Walmart, donuts, urinals

Somewhere in the deepest, most sensibly-priced depths of the American Middle West, there is a rumbling. There, where shoes are six different shades of white and T-shirts are designed by someone who has never seen a shirt with their own eyes, where values are found and tossed aside daily, a monstrous beast is feeling the tremors of another behemoth growing. Walmart has found a competitor.

Easy there, buddy. This is not going to be an article about Walmart. As I said a few weeks ago, I have no interest in discussing that sort of subject here, nor does anyone want to see a 21-year-old dummy trying to dissect the nuance of economics in 1,100 words.

This article is about that competitor to Walmart. I am not talking about Target or Costco. In my professional opinion as a barista and writer, the biggest competitor to Walmart in the coming decades will be Dunkin’ Donuts.

Right now, Dunkin’ Donuts might seem like an afterthought in the scope of the national economy, battling it out in the quick coffee marketplace with Starbucks and—I don’t know, Gloria Jean’s? Caribou? Someone with a van, a Keurig and an entrepreneurial attitude? I cannot even begin to guess what the third-place coffee chain is. Is it McDonald’s? I can only assume that McDonald’s takes the bronze. But Dunkin’ Donuts stands out from its competition in its history and its potential to rise to big-box status one strange product at a time.

Everyone has heard Nike’s origin story: Phil Knight selling weird shoes out of his van as if he were the Bon App food truck idling outside of the Con. Most people are not aware of this, but Dunkin’ Donuts actually has a similar success story. I have done absolutely no research on this, but I am willing to opine that Dunkin’ was founded by one feisty entrepreneur, Duncan Donitz. Duncan was, I can only assume, so inspired by the pastry industry and the concept of circles that he began to sell his signature ‘Donitz’ from the back of his Bel Air. After a name change and a few productive changes to the product, Dunkin’ Donuts (DD) was born.

All these years later, DD is setting itself apart from the pack through its willingness to invest in some of the silliest products I have ever seen.

Two weeks ago, DD rolled out a probationary item known as Donut Fries. To the average observer, these little buddies might not appear to be fries at all. The Fries, which are specifically composed of cinnamon-and-sugar “Donut Sticks,” are somehow different from what might otherwise be called “bad churros.” The fries will not make it to every location, but the entrepreneurial attitude of Duncan Donitz III is something we can all hope to emulate. I for one am looking forward to the day I can exit Dunkin’ Donuts with my Egg and Coffee Fries in hand, driving away to the new day in my Prius-Fry. This is not the most innovative move made by DD lately, however, and it’s not even close.

I have no idea how to describe the latest invention from DD, a collaboration with America’s favorite shoe brand not named Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Puma, Zumiez, New Balance, Heelys, Redwings, Allen Edmonds, Chaco or Crocs: Saucony. Imagine a world that reaches your highest possible aspirations; even that world cannot possibly include a team-up between a donut shop and a middling shoe brand. The Saucony Dunkin’ Donuts shoe is not particularly good looking, nor is it particularly exemplary in its comfort or reliability. It is, like most of America, thoroughly average in every respect of the word. The shoe sold out harder than a Coldplay tour among basic millennials desperately trying to return to 2008. The shoes are about as attractive as a well-used urinal, but they still represent an important entry into the log of food-based clothing and DD’s slow march toward total monopoly.

Speaking of urinals, I have some non-food thoughts that are strong enough to bear mentioning in this article.

United Users of the Urinal, if you use your phone while using a urinal, you need to reevaluate your life choices. I wish I was fabricating this scenario for the sake of a hot take, but this week alone I have witnessed four fully grown, allegedly well-adjusted adults whipping their phone out at the standing desk equivalent of the porcelain throne.

Are we so collectively bored that we routinely need another source of entertainment while we pass the 1 to 2 minutes necessary to relieve ourselves? Even if you are the most elderly, performance-shy, kidney-stone riddled urinal user, it never takes more than four minutes to finish your business. Taking your phone out while using a urinal—or worse, to entering the porcelain palace with the premeditated intent to browse Facebook while urinating—is downright sad.

I can hear your mocking response to this creed now: “Blah blah blah, millennials need to get off their phones. My name is Dan and I disappoint my parents by writing about sexy cereal mascots.” But wait, friendo. This is not about that played-out take. I could not care less if you use your phone every minute of every day, as long as you put it away when you enter the sacred space of standing solace. Why would you ever need it there? Are you taking Tinder pics? There is not a single human being on this planet who wants to see your nasty giblets dangling over a urinal. There are hardly any that want to see them in the first place. Get over yourself.

Did you know urine can splatter up to five feet from a urinal in the act of commode contamination? If you are one of the many using their phone at the urinal, you are practically dipping your phone directly into the toilet. Live in the shame you have earned, urinal scrollers. Your habit has persisted long enough.

Yada yada yada, Dunkin’ Donuts is the next Walmart, hot food take, etc. But seriously, get off your phone at the urinal. It is disgusting. Messing around on your phone at the urinal is almost as bad as not washing your hands at all. If the world is a just place, our future overlords at Dunkin’ Donuts will mandate phone abstinence at the urinal.

Actually, if the world is a truly just place, a nation founded on bigotry and the subjugation of marginalized peoples would watch its political structures erode from within while a greedy, egomaniacal slime-ogre leads the charge against basic civil rights as the very figures meant to prevent such an abuse of power stand idly by.

It’s a good thing nothing like that is happening to the U.S., right?

Keep your phones out of your hand while you have your dirty bits in the other. The world is nasty enough without your preoccupied self-splattering nastiness everywhere.

Dan Meyer