Although Mister Donut's roots are in the United States
, it was acquired by Dunkin' Donuts
in 1990, and now most of the old Mister Donut stores are either replaced by, or in the process of being replaced by, Dunkin' Donuts.
In Japan, however, Mister Donut is the Biggest Thing Around. There are nearly 10,000 Mister Donut franchises in the country today, under the corporate eye of Suita-based Duskin K.K., and they play well to the Japanese perception that America is cool. Misudo's success in Japan has prompted the chain to expand into Thailand, Indonesia, and other East Asian markets.
Besides playing to American cool, why does Mister Donut do so well in Japan? Here are some of my thoughts:
- It's the only chain in the country where you get free refills on coffee (cleverly called "American coffee"). At ¥250 (about $2), Misudo's bottomless cup is the most beautiful beverage deal in the entire country.
- All the donuts cost around a dollar apiece (¥90-¥130)... and they actually taste as good as their American counterparts! Apparently, someone finally figured out that the legends about Japanese taste buds being somehow fundamentally different from Occidentals' were completely inaccurate.
- As Yogurt put it, Merchandising! Every month, it seems, Mister Donut has another "present" that you can receive by eating there enough times. And these aren't like Happy Meal toys. I remember when every girl I knew was saving up points to get a Hello Kitty umbrella. One of my college friends, a Godzilla fanatic, just got a bag with a little cartoony version of the mega-dino on it, saying "I like to eat New York for breakfast!" Good stuff, good stuff.
Recently, Mister Donut got into big trouble
with the government's sanitation
police, after they were found adding a banned antioxidant
, T-butyl hydroquinone
, to their nikuman
buns. Thirteen MILLION tainted nikuman were sold in 2000. It's a shame... that was my favorite menu item.
Still, if Mister Donut in America was anything like its Asian counterpart, I would eat there, like, every day. Twice.