Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Every once in a while, something you left behind will come back and grab your consciousness.

For example, if you're a former Kansas Citian, every so often you'll obsess over the thought of Hayward's Pit barbecue. Former Twin Citians my find themselves dreaming of a Cafe Latte dessert every now and then. And if you've ever lived in New England, despite the presence of incredible seafood and the all-too-rare unspoiled place, you'll more than occasionally find yourself craving something altogether more plebian.

Dunkin' Donuts.

New Englanders past and present know the truth. Manuever through nearly any street in our former home of Providence, Rhode Island, and you won't go more than five minutes or so without passing at least one. Thanks to Double-D, Krispy Kreme was doomed in Providence long before it's overexpansion-fueled, anti-carb corporate collapse. And while "newcomers" (defined by Rhode Islanders as "anyone whose family has been in the state for less than three generations") might be confused by Double-D's apparent popularity, living in New England for any length of time will provide the answer.

I'll let you in on the secret handshake: No one goes to Double-D for the donuts. Instead, it's all about the coffee. Look closely at Ben Stiller's dashboard as he's leaving Providence in "There's Something About Mary"; where did that cup o'joe come from, anyway?

Starbucks? Forget 'em. Peet's? Petered out. Local coffeeshops? Who has the time? Caribou? Venison. Instead, you'll see New Englanders in lines year 'round -- both inside and at the drive-through -- waiting for a cup of French Vanilla, ordered "regular" with a cream and two sugars, where they put in the sugar with a freaking tablespoon. Or sipping massive iced coffees in the summer months at the actually swimmable ocean beaches, the bitter bite of the coffee a perfect offset to time on the sand. Or ordering the notorious "Dunkachino," a sweet, hot, mocha-like drink once described as a "cup of love," made thick enough to stand the proverbial spoon and with enough sugar to force dental PPOs out of business.

Averse to Folger's and heavily addicted to Double-D coffee after less than three years of living there, Household Thorne did find ways on occasion to feed our addiction, even from way out west. Sure, you can order the coffee through Dunkin's website, but who wants to pay shipping? Instead, we viewed it as an occasional treat, an indulgence made possible only through careful logistical planning when traveling on business.

Translated: When passing through Chicago, I knew exactly where to find the Double-D stand in the food court between O'Hare's H and K concourses. I'd make sure my flights were scheduled such that I'd have time to stop, while simultaneously ensuring there was room in my carry-on luggage for at least four half-pound bags. Mrs. T would do the same, and thanks to her recent Boston trip we still had a short supply on hand, watching it dwindle torturously as we have no further travel on the calendar until at least December.

And then, it happened.

There we were, The Boy and I, making our weekly Target run when we passed by the checkout stands. And there, on an endcap and under a flashy "New at Target" banner, we found it.

Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

Freaking Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

In convenient little 12-ounce orange bags. In all of the flavors we love. Right here in town. Crying out, "Take me home... take me home."

Every once in a while, something you've left behind will reach out and grab your consciousness. Every once in a while -- if you're lucky -- it'll just plain follow you wherever you go. And in my case, it's followed me to the point of reviving my three-cup-a-day habit.

Forget grabbing consciousness. In this case, it's grabbed my wallet.

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