March 13, 2008

Starbucks Gets Owned by Dunkin Donuts

Ever since the highway rest area Hot Shoppes were turned into Starbucks, I have imagined a fat, grubby, smelly redneck truck driver (my apologies to fat, grubby, smelly redneck truck drivers everywhere) lumbering out of his truck and into a roadside Starbucks to order a "grande double skinny decaf moca latte with extra foam." Now Dunkin Donuts has joined in to poke fun at the pretentious Starbucks ordering process with a couple of funny television commercials.

In one Dunkin Donuts commercial, a bunch of customers in a Starbucks-like place sing a song -- which sounds like something from Blink 182 -- about how they cannot order coffee drinks because they cannot speak "Fritalian." (Clip courtesty of YouTube). In another Dunkin Donuts commercial, a woman goes to a Starbucks-type coffee shop and asks for a large coffee. The "barrista" keeps interrupting her and says "it's a 'deici'". Finally, the barrista is forced to admit that a "deici" is merely a "large." (Clip courtesy of In case the Starbucks connection isn't obvious enough, the number ten in Italian is "dieci" (same pronounciation), while the word for a large coffee at Starbucks is"venti," or "twenty" in Italian, referring to the size in ounces of the Starbucks cup.

Certainly, the Dunkin Donuts television commercials are not the first time someone has made fun of Starbucks' pretentious ordering system. Jackie Mason has a hilarious comedy routine about Starbucks (sample -- and use your best Jackie Mason inflection here -- "You want coffee in a coffee shop, that's 60 cents. But at Starbucks, Cafe Latte: $3.50. Cafe Creamier: $4.50. Cafe Suisse: $9.50. For each French word, another four dollars. ")

The Dunkin Donuts commercials are also not the first time Dunkin Donuts has highlighted its pedestrian image. Dunkin Donuts has for years prominently placed its products in the hands of blue-collar television and movie characters, including Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting." There have even been numerous references in the current Democratic primary election cycle to Barack Obama being the candidate of Starbucks drinkers versus Hillary Clinton's alleged Dunkin Donuts-drinking supporters.

I have to hand it to Dunkin Donuts for trying to win back Starbucks customers by poking fun at Starbucks and by upgrading its own drink selection to include latte and other drinks commonly found at Starbucks. I agree with Dunkin Donuts and Jackie Mason that it's completely asinine to have to learn a new language to order a coffee, especially since Starbucks has about as much in common with Italy as a can of Spaghetti-O's. Not to mention that, as Jackie Mason says, "it's burnt coffee at Starbucks, let's be honest about it. If you get burnt coffee in a coffee shop, you call a cop."

Here in Southern California, where people take their beverage consumption very seriously, we have the best of both worlds in coffee shop chains like Peet's, which serves tasty coffee fully in English, as well as numerous local mom-and-pop coffee shops, some of which roast their own beans on the premises. Unfortunately, while Dunkin Donuts' regular coffee is the sh*t, I drink decaf, and Dunkin's decaf does not quite measure up. As for Starbucks, if I want to order in Italian or "Fritalian" to drink burnt coffee, I'll leave my coffee maker on all day while I attend a Berlitz class.

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At 2:49 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

When I was in San Francisco a few months ago, I noticed a much wider variety of coffee shops. There were certainly Starbucks aplenty and Peet's everywhere, but there were also many locals that looked quite inviting. I'm guessing the Starbucks are for the tourists in that city... and well Peet's is just a West Coast institution, yes?

At 4:09 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

I think Peet's is just on the West Coast. And in cities like SF and Seattle, I guess Starbucks nowadays is just for the tourists -- and the truck drivers.


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