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I'm David Faria, a New Zealander accidentally marooned in America, and I want to figure out what makes this country tick. Now, we've done a few food episodes in this show because, let's face it, Americans love eating. From pizza to hot dogs to burgers, America is as passionate about its diet as it is about its flag. But there's been an important food item missing from the flightless bird food chain. A hole, so to speak. A donut hole, if you will. Donuts. Hey, Thomas, slow down. You're going to choke or something.


Don't tell me how do we eat donuts.


It's a cold, hard fact that Americans eat over 10 billion donuts every year. Each American listening to this podcast will gobble down an average of 63 donuts each over the coming year. I wanted to understand America's relationship to the donut, from the giant chains to the smaller stand-alone stores. I wanted to know if cops really do feast on donuts all day and why BN Affleck is always snapped with handfuls of Duncan Donuts products in public, like some donut goblin. So Get ready to fry up some dough and cover it in massive amounts of sugar, because this is the Donuts episode. Fly this, fly this, fly this bird, touch down in America.


I'm a fly this bird, touch down in America.


Do you have strong feelings on donuts, Monica? Do you eat a lot of Donuts, do you eat 60 plus a year?


That is a staggering statistic. I mean, that means people are eating over one a week.


Yeah, people love a donut. I don't eat a donut for a long time, but then when I do eat them, I eat a at once. So I probably do eat about one a week on average, actually.


No, you do?


Well, yeah. When I eat it, I'll have 10 at a time. If I'm having a donut once every two months, I'll have 10 or 20. I'll just gobble them down.


Oh, my gosh. I do. I love a donut. Who doesn't? What's not to like about it? It's, though, I will say in some ways it is like cereal in that America has made it a breakfast item and it's a cake. That's all it is in the shape of a circle. And yet we eat it for breakfast.


Yeah, that's actually a remarkable thing. I didn't thought about that. America is good at taking what should be a dessert and making it a breakfast. They flip it. That's so savvy.


It is savvy from a marketing corporate perspective, and it's so horrifying health-wise.


I mean, yeah, sugar is a great fuel to start your day with. A few times I have started a day with a donut. Generally, it's been a A bad day. It hasn't gone well. You get the crash, all those carbs. It's a bad time.


What is your favorite, not place, I'm sure we'll get into that, but what is your favorite donut? What do you order if all the donuts are on the menu?


I just like a Simple. What do you call it? I just want a little chocolate topping, like a chocolate glaze. Glaze? Really basic. Yeah, just a chocolate glaze, and I'm happy. I don't want any filling in the middle of my donut. That's too much. I just want that dough, and I want a bit of chalk. What about you?


My favorite of all time, I have two, is a Blueberry donut or a Chocolate Cake donut. Oh, it's so good. Duncan donuts. I think all time favorite is their Chocolate Cake donut.


Oh my God, that's the one. Look, spoiler alert, but I do talk to the boss of Duncan later in the documentary. What? Yeah, so that's coming up.


Were you star struck?


I was. I liked all the people at Duncan. They were really fun to interact with. And this is actually quite annoying because, spoiler alert, I'm in New Zealand at the moment because I've had to come back here to get my visa renewed. So I'm looking at a very American topic as I'm coming in from afar. But the problem is I was going to get donuts delivered to all of us today. If we're recording in the attic, Duncan was going to come to the party and just give us all this stuff. So I'm really sorry.


Wait, Duncan, the man was going to come?


Not the man, the company. The company was going to come and deliver donuts. David. To all of us. Yeah. I mean, I probably should have done this even though I'm not there. It would have been a kind gesture. It probably shows how selfish I am.


It would have been generous.


But I thought we're not all together, so I didn't make that happen. And I'll make it up to you later in the year somehow, okay?


It does feel a little bit wrong, morally, that we aren't eating donuts or they're not in our presence. We can't smell them right now. I'll probably have to get one today after we record this, I'm sure.


I think we all probably need to get some donuts after this, to be honest.


Wow. I can't I believe you met Mr. Duncan himself. I imagine he looks like the guy from Home Alone, too, who works at the shop where he gives the two turtle dove monuments to Kevin.


Oh, that kindest-looking old man of all time.


Yeah. Actually, he owns the story, and he's also a billionaire. You don't know it because he's just so kind.


Oh, big Home Alone fan over here. I didn't pick you for a Home Alone 2 fan, actually.


Really? Home Alone is my favorite Christmas movie.


It's really good. I watched as a Christmas movie last year, Gremlins. That's a good Christmas movie. I forgot that a big part of that takes place at Christmas. And it's also incredibly depraved. Movies for kids used to be so scary. There's a scene in Gremlins where The Mom is just going around throwing Gremlin into kitchen. What do you call them? We call them in sinkerators in New Zealand. We've had this debate before. A garbage disposal into a blender, into a microwave. There's a gremlin that flashes people. This is a movie for kids. It's crazy.


Can gremlins not die? I haven't seen it.


You can kill a gremlin. Yeah, you kill them by putting them in a blender, typically, or a microwave, something like that. But you haven't seen gremlins? No. Hey, Monica, this Christmas, It's many months away, but we've got to get you to watch gremlin. It's an all-time classic. They start as these cute little tiny creatures. But then if they eat after midnight or if they get water on them, they turn into these horrible, conniving, awful creatures, and rampage around this Christmas-y town.


Can they turn back good?


No. Once they've gone evil, they're pure evil. Once that's happened, yeah. And they also procreate if they get wet. The good ones procreate, so you've got 20 cute ones. But then if those cute ones eat after midnight, they turn into the horrible ones. It gets out of control quickly.


Okay. Before we get into donuts, we have to talk about the thing I know you don't want to talk about, but it was your birthday. You are 40 now. Happy birthday. How does it feel?


Yeah. How old did you say I was?


40, aren't you? Or are you 41? Or are you 39?


I turned 41.


Oh, you were 40 last year.


Yeah. So it feels bad.


Wait, why did I think this was going to be... I feel like me and you talked and you were so upset about this birthday.


Yeah, I was because I've crossed over into now the stretch to 50. 40 was fine. It was like, I'm for zero. 41 is nine years from 50. And that is a huge, huge, huge problem to me because 50 is a real problem for me, personally. Not insulting anyone 50 or over, but for me, I'm not happy about it.




Yeah, 41 feels infinitely worse. And everyone for your 40th, everyone's excited and they're on board and you can party. You can't party for 41. It's almost a bit sad.


You didn't party? What did you do?


I was at my mom and dad's in a day, and it was very quiet. We just had a really mellow time. Mom made me a birthday cake and a Christmas cake at the same time, which is nice because it's acknowledging my birthday. Because usually, if you're a Christmas baby, it's going back a bit now, actually. But, yeah, the memories are all flooding back. Yeah, usually people are ignored when their birthday is on Christmas Day. But my mom made especially have it to make a Christmas cake and a birthday cake. I'm a very lucky boy.


You're the luckiest little boy. But what cake did you get? This is circling back to donuts. What cake was the birthday cake and then what kind was the Christmas?


You would have liked the birthday cake because it was a chocolate, very simple, beautiful chocolate, foamy texture, not too moist, not too dry, beautiful chocolate icing. And with one of those little happy birthday signs, like squished into the top of the cake.


Did it say happy birthday, Davy?


No, just happy birthday. Few candles, not 41 candles. That would have been insulting. And the Christmas cake was your classic fruitcake. Mom starts making it halfway through the year.


What do you mean?


Well, I think with fruitcake, you got to brew it a bit, don't you? You've got the fruit, you're mixing it all up. My mom makes it in advance. It's a big deal.


She makes it in June? I don't understand what you're saying. Is it frozen? How does she do this and not spoil?


Yeah, no, I think actually, look, to be honest, I think she does freeze it. She makes it early and then she freezes it, and then she dethors it. And something in that process, she thinks makes it a better texture and a better cake.


Or maybe the fruit she's using is of a certain season or something.


I got to be honest, I haven't thought about this a lot. I just know she always starts making this cake in June, and it's like, by the time Christmas rolls around, it's really, really delicious.


Okay, well, in an upcoming episode, we need to get your mom on the horn, and we need to learn about this Christmas cake.


The most exciting thing about my mom's Christmas cake is that, you know most Christmas cake, fruitcake has an almondy icing on top?


Or is that just in New Zealand? I'm actually not all that familiar with fruitcake. I mean, I know it is a thing, but I don't know much about it.


It's not big in the Padman household. It's usually an almond topping. My mom is like, screw that. Amonds, horrible in a topping. We're not doing almond. And she just makes this beautiful, sweet, buttery white icing to put on top. And it's the best Christmas cake you'll ever have.


Wow. And I do want to try this.


Well, bring some back from... Bring a frozen chunk back to on the flame. Defrost it over a week.


Do it. I just had a brand new thought. I've never thought this before.


Holy shit. Got a brand new thought coming in. It's rare as a human to have a brand new thought. They usually remodeled thoughts. Isn't it? Yeah.


Yes. It's cruel what we do to people with the candles on birthdays, where we put the amount of candles for your birthday because it starts to become impossible and you already are feeling old and And so when you can't do it, it's just reiterating that you're old, you don't have the breath you used to have. It's awful. Why do we do that?


You're right. And it's either if you do use... So say 41, 41 candles It looks ridiculous. There's no cake. You can't see the cake through the candles. So then it gets a bit pathetic and someone will just put maybe one candle on or maybe three. And that feels sad. You get the numbered candles. You get the number. You get the number. Rob comes in a resolution.


That feels always like a cheat, but I get it. Or you do four singles and then one single. Oh, God.


Have you been to a kid's birthday recently and there's a cake you actually want to eat, and then the parents give it to the kid to blow out, which is awful. The kid is just spitting. Spitting all over it. Just everywhere. They've got no control. I'm not eating that cake now. I'm out.


Snott comes out.


Yeah, horrific. It's disgusting. They shouldn't let kids blow out their own candles. They shouldn't make David do it. Mature adult that doesn't spit everywhere.


I do have one important donut for you guys. Do you prefer yeast or cake donuts?


I'm a yeasty boy.


I like cake. I'm team cake, too.


Really? I like that yeastiness. That's interesting.


But I do love Krispy Kreme. Ding ding, ding, ding, whatever episode from a long time ago where we brought up Krispy Kreme randomly and then ate some. Was it the Amish episode?


I think it was Amish. It was Amish. Yeah, Amish and their donuts.


Wow, good memory. Okay, so listen to that. Oh, it's an encyclopedia. Two, do a double header on this for donuts.


All right. Let's crank into this little documentary, into the world of delicious donuts. Yummy, yummy, yummy. When do you start baking? I started one o'clock in the morning until 6:30. We're done. What are your best ones?


The best one is a Reese's peanut butter.


I'm at a California donut store, and I've just been told their best donut is their Reese's Pieces donut. Funnily enough, I'd been researching Reese's Pieces for an episode about American candy, and my head was brimming with Reese's Pieces facts. Invented in 1978, based on the butter cups version from 1928, got huge because they featured an E. T. Anyway, here were Ries's Pieces on a donut. It's called Flight this Bird, and it's just about different parts of American culture. How long have you worked here for? Thirteen year. What's your favorite donut?


Ries's peanut butter and Snickabur.


All right, I'm looking forward to it. I'd come to the store to research donuts. With me, Andrew, a friend from New Zealand. Andrew is a fitness freak and hates things like battered dough and sugar. This is his nightmare. I need to have my eyes opened to the donut experience. Then there's Lauren, an American who grew up surrounded by donuts.


I love the donut. It's very classic. We used to get them as a family on weekend mornings, which was quite nice.


These are the yeasted donuts, which are the big puffy ones.


I like a denser cake donut.


I thought they were all yeasted. I think they all technically have yeast, but I like a Kroller or a buttermilk bar. Andrew, my New Zealand cohort. How are you feeling about this situation? I'm approaching this with some trepidation, having a low tolerance of sugar. But I have the Snickers donut. I've taken my first bite and I can see this melted Snickers. Almost like an entire Snickers bar inserted into the middle. The three of us had agreed to drive around all morning and eat different donuts at different stores, but I could already see a floor in our plan. Donuts are filling. I had a feeling this might be our last stop, especially because we'd started with the most sugary nightmares available. That does make me think, too. La is so notoriously like a svelte culture, a wellness place.


We are like gluten free and vegan and so obsessed with our bodies and our figures.


And yet the donut is very central to LA culinary history. And to US culinary history. While different cultures have been frying dough for hundreds of years, it's thought the actual donut can be traced back to the Dutch who came to New York in the 1600s and started frying smaller bits of dough. But it wouldn't be until 1850 that an American sailor would stab a donut onto one of the spokes of his steering wheel, accidentally inventing the donut hole. This revelation meant that donuts could be made bigger because with a hole in the middle, they cook all the way through and wouldn't have a disgusting undercooked center. They became big with American soldiers during World War One in the trenches. Easy to make, delicious to consume. National Donut Day came about because of World War One. It was created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to honor members who'd served donuts to soldiers during the war. Now, National Donut Day is celebrated on the first Friday of June every year. Lauren tells me the whole thing about cops loving donuts isn't just in the movies. To Americans listening, you probably know this already, but to this New Zealander, I'd figured it was just a joke.


But as I've discovered making this show, things I grew up thinking were a joke about America are just real things, like cops eating donuts.


That's a real thing because they're 24 hours. When you're on your shift and you're just cruising around town and you need a little pick me up, you get your little caffeine to keep you going.


You walk in. Often, they have the air of authority.


The donuts are cheap anyway. I think often they're gifted to the cops that come in. If you need a place to hang out, one or two booths on a main drag with a big window, you can just sit, have a nice little break, but still be on the clock.


We'd eaten a few donuts each at the California Donuts store, and Andrew had given up. This is about the time that I make a kale salad at home. And here I am with you two. He's eating another chocolate donut. I thank Cindy for the donuts. She's behind the counter today, especially the Reese's Pieces one. This was an amazing donut, so thank you so much. You're welcome.


I hope to see you again, okay?


I I abandoned my friends and go and meet up with Emily Tang. She's originally from the Bay Area and grew up working in her parents' donut shop. I wanted to meet Emily to better understand the donut situation in America, which for her started when her parents, Yin and Sang, moved to the US.


My mom came in her late '20s. Her and my father met in China, and she immigrated here. And first day in the US was at the donut shop, essentially. And then my father, he's ethnically Chinese and Cambodian, born in Cambodia, immigrated to the US as a refugee due to the Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian genocide in the late 1970s. So a very common business that a lot of Cambodian Americans got into because it was a community I built an internship where a lot of folks, mainly guys, would start waking up, go learn how to make donuts, collect money, save up, lease a donut shop, rent a donut shop, buy a donut shop, from another relative, and start building their own small business. Everyone in the family is involved. The kids are folding the pink boxes. The dad and the mom are behind the counter. So that's how my parents got into it.


Her parents' store, Best Donuts, is in Santa Clara. So today in Los Angeles, we've met up at another mom and pop store called Tasty Donuts & Cafe. Emily knows a lot about donuts because she grew up with them. But also, she now runs an Instagram account called Pink Box Stories, bringing attention to Cambodian Americans who we have to thank for the iconic pink donut box. The story goes that in the '80s, a Cambodian refugee was expanding his donut chain and was looking for cheaper boxes than the typical white ones. The supplier offered him one very cheap color.


At the time, it was only pink because someone wanted red, and they already made all these red boxes for a different business and such. The pinks were straps running through to get the remaining color out before they changed the color. So we'll go with this pink one.


Pink took off, and now it's the norm. Emily also tells me there's a coastal divide of donut shops, where the East Coast has more franchises like Krispy Kreme and Duncan, where the West Coast tends to have more mom and pop stores, many owned and operated by Cambodian Americans. How many donuts would you have consumed in your life, do you think?


Maybe 100 or so. I'm not huge sweet tooth. My dad will actually have a donut a day, mainly to taste how his recipe is, but they're also both sweet tooth, so they will eat it almost all the time. I'll just eat it to provide a review or if it's super fresh. I've had peak donuts where they're straight out of the fryer. The main category is the raised donut, which is a fluffier dough. It has yeast. And then off of that are all the denser donuts, so the old fashions, the cake donuts, a buttermilk bar. And then some really old-school shops will have the French crueler, which is a very soft donut. It's more sponge-like, very egg heavy. And now we see the evolution of the trendier donuts. I see behind you there's a panda-looking donut. The Crow nut is also a new one. I think the most extreme donut I've ever seen, this was somewhere in New York. It was a maple bacon donuts, and stuck to its side was a syringe of whiskey.


We've been eating donuts this whole time, by the way. They're really good. Johnny, who runs this place, comes over to check in.


We've been here since 2014, but we were across the since '91.


We end up talking to Johnny for a while, who insists on giving us more free donuts while telling us that maybe things are changing a little in these smaller family-run stores. The next generation of donut makers have other things on their mind. They don't want to keep it.


It's too much work. Yeah. Too much work. If you have no baker, you have to bake yourself. Times are changing.


It's just the new immigrants that's coming in.


It's a different lifestyle. A lot of them, they're switching to a lot of Uber drivers now. Yeah, because of all the Internet and the next phase, everything is switching. The jobs, the careers, everything is all evolving.


And he says that while the box is the perfect device for holding donuts, in a way, the donut store itself ends up feeling like a box for those making them.


I think a lot of people, they just want more freedom to roam around rather than be stuck in a box set.


If anything, this just makes me want to support smaller stores even more. Places like this one, Tasty Donuts, which I can assure you lives up to its name. Stay tuned for more Flightless Bird. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsors. Support for Flightless Bird comes from AG1. Now, taking care of your health isn't always easy, but it should at least be simple. That's why for the last couple of years, I've been drinking AG1. It's just one scoop mixed in water once a day, every day, and it makes me feel energized and just much better in my day. That's because each serving of AG1 delivers my daily dose of vitamins, minerals, pre and probiotics, and even more. It's a powerful healthy habit that's also powerfully simple. I know that with AG1, I'm giving my body high-quality nutrition because every batch of AG1 goes through a rigorous testing process, so you know it's safe. The ingredients are sourced for absorption, potency, and nutrient density. If there's one product I had to recommend to elevate your health, it's AG1. That's why I partnered with them for so long. If you want to take ownership of your health, start with AG1.


Try AG1 and get a free one-year supply of vitamin D3 plus K2 and five free AG1 travel packs with your first purchase, exclusively at drinkag1. Com/flightless. That's drinkag1. Com/flightless. Check it out. This show is sponsored by Better Help. Now, there's a few relationships that I'm proud of in my life. One's with Hayden, I've talked to him before. Another one is with my friend Roosevelt. Both of them, they're not simple relationships. They have their ups and downs. To make those relationships work, you have to do a little bit of work on yourself along the way and some work on the relationship. That's something that I've found incredibly valuable. Now, a common misconception about relationships is that they have to be easy to be right, but sometimes the best ones happen when both people put in the work to make them great. Now, therapy can be a great place to work through the challenges you face in all of your relationships with your friends, your work, your loved one, or anyone in your life. In therapy at the moment, I'm working specifically on boundaries, not just with my friends, but everyone. In New Zealand, we don't really have boundaries because we're people-pleasers, but I'm learning that putting boundaries in place long term is actually a really good thing to be able to do.


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I thought that was so lovely. I loved hearing those backstories. I didn't know that about the pink box.


That was very sweet. Yeah, it was just like the end of a run where the red was running out. And they just had this other color that no one wanted, and they rolled with that. And now everything... Yeah, you just associate pink, right? I feel like you go to Universal Studios and you get that big touristy box of donuts and it comes in a big pink garden.


Yeah. I never really thought of it as being an establishment that a lot of immigrants flock to.


Yeah, donuts, especially. I can't remember what the exact stats are, but so many of those Mom and Pop donut stores, especially in California, are Cambodian run. There was a story, I think, in the LA Times the other day about this really iconic one in Echo Park. I think the landlord sold the building and they're having to move. And the whole community grew up getting their donuts there. So they've made this GoFundMe campaign to try and help them keep their donut store because they make the best donuts in Echo Park. Yeah, I think that's the interesting thing about donuts. And in the next part of the doc, we get into the more corporate side. But yeah, there's a big corporatized world. I guess it's like coffee, right? You've got Starbucks with all the chain, and then you've got these cute little stores, and both of them have their own weird charms.


Well, there's a third bucket that's trending, too, is the trendy, fancy artisanal donuts.


Yes, the fancy boys. I reached out to a lot of the trendy trendy ones for this. None of them go back to me. They're too trendy. They're too trendy for this podcast. In their minds, they're probably like, We've got enough customers. We don't need to talk about it. We've got our Instagram account.


But also that's just culture right now. Everything is artisanal. There has to be a fancy version of everything. Have you had Sidebar Donuts? I have, yeah.


They're very good. I think you took me there, Rob, and they were frigging delicious. I just remembered a bad thing I did where... This was years ago. I was staying at someone I was in my house's house before I'd found a place to live in LA, and a giant box of voodoo donuts arrived at my door. It's that store that they're like crazy sweet additions. And a big box of them arrived, and I just assumed they were for me, and so I ate them. Just sat there and ate them all. Forgetting that I was living with someone else. And they came home and they were like, Where are those donuts that were delivered. They were for my friend's birthday that we're going to later on. We're going to take the donuts there.


David. And so I felt really bad about that.


And so when it came around to that person's birthday again- Again?


Did you not go that day?


No. So we sorted something out for that day. But then when that person had another event on, I felt… Of course, everyone at the party was like, David ate your donuts. David ate your donuts. Everyone teased me. I felt sick. You ate a dozen of them? No, not all of them. I ate maybe six and a half or seven. I felt bad. At one time? Yeah, I'm very hungry. I'm growing. So the next time that person had an event, they knew that I'd eaten their donuts last time. So I went and got some new donuts from Voodoo Donuts to take to that person's house. But then they were sitting there on the bench and I was like, oh, my God, I just want a donut. And I ate them, too.


You're kidding. David, how old were you?


Back then, I'd say 38, 39.


This is unacceptable behavior.


No. No, there's a complete lack of self control. It's childlike. It's awful. Yeah, and so I've never gotten this person their donuts because whenever I try and get them, I just eat them.


This is like another egg to the head. It's insanity. Do you know the story of voodoo donuts? No. That was the original trendy donut shop in Portland from 20 years ago.


Really? So it was like a little trendy one and it just got big.


Yeah. It was like 20 years ago, I think it opened. And whenever you go to Portland, you had to go there. And it was always lines around the block for their donuts. And they did the Cock and Balls donut and cereal on top of it.


Right. They're like a naughty donut place.


I think they've opened some since in LA.


Apparently, there's an amazing documentary on Netflix that I embarrassingly haven't seen called The Donut King, which is a lot about these Cambodian refugees who have made donut such a big thing. Apparently, it's a really beautiful doc, but if you like this episode, that's probably a good thing to watch. Okay, should we get into the other side of donuts? The big, giant, you're driving along the freeway and you get off. And there's the reliable donut store. It's always there, the chain.


The sign is on.


Beckoning you. Yeah, I'll take that exit. Yeah, let's get into this. Let's get into it. Ben Affleck, the star's legendary love of Duncan Donuts, just hit a whole new level.


He's always photographed my little Duncan coffee.


Tuesday, Ben was spotted serving cups of the New England Brew at Medford, Massachusetts drive-through. I'd be cursed for all eternity and banished to the lower depths of hell by Monica if I didn't my sights towards Duncan, the chain loved by actor Ben Affleck. Emily from earlier on had mentioned to me how the East Coast was defined by bigger franchise chains. So of course, it's time to turn to Duncan.


I think you can quote me, Donuts are sexy again.


I'm not here to fuck around, so I went straight to the top.


So my name is Scott Murphy. I'm the President of Duncan. Been here about 20 years, and we are the franchisor of Duncan, almost 10,000 restaurants here in the United States, another 4,000 outside the United States, but obviously a leader in drip coffee, in donuts, in bagels, in all sorts of categories across the food and beverage spectrum.


What are the defining aspects that make Duncan, Duncan? Because there's a lot of places in America that sell coffee, a lot of places that sell donuts. What's the whole Duncan thing?


The whole Duncan thing? Yeah, it's a great question, and I think it's a really deep answer. Duncan has been around for 70 years, and it's one of these great brands that have found a way to stay relevant and to stay in the conversation with America and to really grow with people. So if you are traveling around America and talking to people, a lot of them will reminisce about their early childhood getting a donut with their father after a baseball game or with their mother before church or after church, that type of thing. And then they'll talk about in high school when they started getting a coffee Coolada or something like that. And then they'll talk about in college, they migrated to hot coffee for an all-nighter before an exam, and then cold brew recently, and some of these products. So it's a brand that has stayed with people throughout their lives. Then the second thing I'd say about this brand is we don't take ourselves too seriously. We certainly take the quality of our donuts and our coffee seriously, but it's a brand that humor is very much at the center of it. But we're your reliable partner that's there with you.


And we know that not every day is going to be great, but if we can give you that brief moment to start your day the right way and give you the energy, then that's what we're going to do.


Good Lord. Americans are really good at making you feel patriotic about everything. In this case, a bit of dough with a hole in the middle. What's the balance between the donut aspect and the coffee aspect? Because obviously, Duncan donuts, I mean, even in the name, it's got donuts. Are you meant to be dunking them in the coffee? What's the fusion between the coffee and the donuts, or is that just a good breakfast?


Yeah, I mean, I think it's how it originally started. Our donuts even had that little handle, that little bump out on the donut. You were meant to hold it and dunk it in your coffee.


Are people still doing that or is that a practice that's It's certainly not happening in America? I've never seen it done now that I think about it.


Yeah, we don't do too much of it now, but I will tell you everyone remembers it. And some people still certainly dunk their donuts in their coffee. In 2018, we dropped the name Donuts from the So now we just go by Duncan, and mostly because that's how America was referring to us. We're on our way to Duncan. And it was also a nod to, while donuts are an important part of our legacy, certainly, the future is probably more around beverages and certainly ice beverages when we think about that next generation consumer.


I hadn't even noticed it was no longer called Duncan Donuts, just Duncan, a donut store without donut in its name. Scott tells me the first store was opened in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1950, which was actually a rebrand of another donut place called Open Kettle. The idea was to serve blue collar workers only what they needed. Two things, donuts and coffee. It was eventually franchised, and today it sits in the hands of franchises disease like Sue Andrade. She's run a Duncan store for the last 26 years. It's in her blood.


My dad's been in the business for about 52 years, and then he sold to me and my brother. So as I graduated from high school, I worked at Duncan behind the counter since I was 12. Back then, there weren't any labor laws against that. And it's been wonderful. So there are now four generations of this family that is in this business today. You would be amazed at the uniforms that we have collected through the years. I actually brought one into our meeting a couple of months ago, and it was like the donut tree. So literally, it's a little beige dress that has donut trees on them. It started with the pink striped shirts. They went to the donut trees, and now we're in jeans and T-shirts.


Do you think Do you think it'll go on for another generation in your family?


I think so, yeah. My kids are still a little bit younger, so I don't know what they're going to be doing. But the legacy that's been created is truly amazing.


I guess it's your job now to probably start slowly indoctrinating your kids and giving them little bits of donut and little bits of coffee now and then.


Oh, they love donuts. Let me tell you, and coffee.


Generations of Duncan franchisees selling donuts and coffee to generations of Americans. I guess that's where their slogan comes from.


Probably 10 or 15 years ago when we came up with America runs on Duncan, the slogan, and we were contemplating going West. We were very much a northeast donut company. And the question was, could we expand our footprint and go to California and other places. We looked at a lot of the demographics, and the rub on Duncan was it was very much a blue collar brand. It was for the landscapers and the teachers and those types of people. We went to go do the demographics, and then we realized it's actually not demographics that are important, but it's the psychographics graphics. Duncan is a brand that's not just for a certain type of people, but it's for people that want good quality products at a decent price, serve quickly, and they have a lot to do in their day, and they just want to get in and get out with low friction. And guess what? Those people certainly are janitors and landscapers, but they're also hosts of podcasts. They are presidents, they are lawyers, and that aspect exists across the entire United States. And what we realized is, Duncan serves the red It serves the politics.


It serves the blue politics. It serves everyone. It's very much a coffee and a product for everyone.


I could tell I was being indoctrinated, indoctrinated into the world of Duncan. I mean, it happens to all of us. One day, Ben Affleck has spotted struggling with handfuls of Duncan coffees. The next, he's fronting their entire ad campaign. Things with Duncan are going well. Big promotion.


Made me brand ambassador.


We got to come up with a drink name, but it's not easy, right? Nowadays, with social media, the kids, it's got to be authentic.


I would argue Ben has been our number one fan for the last 20 years, and we've never actually had a relationship with him. He was just a fan. He grew up in Boston and Cambridge. And I actually think who he is is an exact archetype of who that Duncan customer is. He's moved out West, local boy done well. He's an Oscar-winning, obviously, writer, director, actor, all those types of things. But at the heart of it, he just loves a great product. And so he loves our ice coffee. He loves our donuts. And it's something that has stuck with him from his childhood. He goes to the one out in California all the time. And we talk to him about doing something together just because it seemed obvious. And that's when we ended up filming the Super Bowl commercial that had him and obviously his wife, Jennifer Lopez, in it as well.


If you missed it, the ad has Ben Affleck taking orders at a Duncan drive-through, hidden camera style. And of course, people are surprised when they turn the corner and see it's Ben Affleck serving them. Jennifer Lopez drives up, annoyed her husband's been gone all day.


It came out incredibly well. Seven billion media impressions rated the number one 30-second ad in the Super Bowl. And it was all his idea of how to do a behind-the-scenes hidden camera while he works the drive-through. And I think people really related to it because they associate Ben with Duncan. And so it made sense. But Ben, just like Duncan, doesn't take himself too seriously. He's a little frazzled in the ad, but he's having fun with it, and it worked out really well.


My journey into the world of donuts is coming to an And honestly, I've eaten a lot of donuts along the way. I don't feel all that great. So it's probably good I wrap up. Before I leave Scott to go and do whatever it is that presidents of massive donut chains do, I let him tell me his most important Duncan fact.


Given your fascination with donuts, I would let people in on a little known fact that Munchkins, which are our donut holes, the spiracle donuts, that it's approximately 4.3 Munchkins that make up a single donut in terms of their mass. And so it's like these miniature candy bars that are out there. Everyone feels good when they just have one, but that you end up having multiple. So you can have about 4.3 is your break-even in comparison to having a traditional donut. And I think that's a highly guarded secret in the vaults of Duncan headquarters here. But now you and your listeners will know the true ratio.


The donuts come a long way since the sailor accidentally invented the donut hole. I guess these days, we're back to eating the hole as well. Donuts now come in a variety of shapes and sizes with toppings and fillings that boggle the mind. I like that between giant chains like Duncan and smaller Mom and Pop stores like Best Donuts and Tasty Donuts, you're never far away from a fried ring of dough. Ten billion of them guzzled down every year. Ten billion, Monica. I still can't get my head around that number.


What a journey. Oh, I'm so pleased.


We were recording this over Zoom, and I was looking at your face whenever Ben Affleck was being talked about. You had this glow, this expression on your face. It was really beautiful to see. It was contentment. Yeah, it makes me happy.


He is a good old boy from Boston. He is. He just is.


Yeah, he's so good.


I thought that was a genius move, him totally embracing this Duncan connection that everyone had all these horrible memes about him and just so rude. And he's like, fuck it. I'm taking it.


There's certain commercials that come about in such an organic way. And I guess brands try and fake that sometimes, but you can never fake it. And nothing makes me laugh more still in a really good, harder way. We've all struggled with a thing of coffees and too much in our hands. And just seeing an A-lister have that same struggle that the rest of us have. It's just eternally funny. And his facial expressions as things fall out of his hands. It's great.


It's hard. It's hard to be a donut guy.


Yeah. I hadn't actually watched that Super Bowl ad until recently. And when people catch Ben Affleck in the window, it's just a good moment.


That was what I dreamed of, just driving up to a Duncan Donuts and Ben is working in the... That is probably something I actually had a fantasy about. Yeah.


Actually, probably another topic for this podcast is the drive-through, because being back in New Zealand, I've really remembered. We don't... Look, I mean, maybe it's popped up in some cities here. I haven't noticed it. You can't really do a drive-through Starbucks. They don't have a drive-through bank. We do I go through McDonald's and fast food, but it hasn't expanded to other things like donuts and coffee.


Oh, I love that. Yeah, that'd be a great episode.


Yeah. Why get out of the car? Stay in the car. Just stay in there all day.


We are a A country of convenience, if nothing else. Yeah.


And we love you for it. Yeah.


Do you miss us?


I know. I miss you. I do. I do miss you. Yeah. I mean, I'm in this weird reverse purgatory, and I'll do an episode about this where I'm now waiting for my visa interview. So I've filled in all my paperwork, paid the lawyers some money. Now I have to wait for my interview, and then I'll go into the embassy here in Auckland, New Zealand, and they'll quiz me about why am I coming? I have to explain this podcast to them. I do a podcast It's called Flight of Spread. That could be a little ad pitch, a little sales pitch for them. We'll get one more listener from the embassy. And then they take my passport away to put the visa in it. But it's unclear when you're getting the passport back. My point is, I'm stuck in New Zealand in a weird purgatory, which is nice because at the moment it's summer and it's beautiful. But I do miss America. I miss my buddies. Believe it or not, I miss you guys. Believe it. I want to be back in the crazy. New Zealand's too beautiful here. I I want to be back in the madness of the US.


The muck.


The muck. Well, we miss you, too. And we hope your interview goes well. Yeah, maybe play them some clips. Maybe play them this Ben Affleck clip. It makes people smile.


Maybe I could take this in. That's a good idea. And I can really sell it to them. And there'll be a big queue of people behind me at the embassy so they can hear them as well. That's one thing about these visa interviews. You're in this big room and you can listen to what everyone's being quizzed about. And some of it's really personal. Why do you need to be in America? And some of them are pleading there to get over for a wedding or to see a relative. There'll be some guy who's desperately trying to explain his business venture that he's trying to get to America for, fumbling with papers. Yeah, it's like a really wild environment to be in.


Are you allowed to take your mic in there?


Oh, no. It's like going through airport security. I wish I could record in there. Yeah, they take your phone off you. They take any recording devices off you. It's really, really sad. I have got a ticket booked for Hobbiton here in New Zealand. Do you know Lord of the Rings? Have you heard of that film before?


I've heard of it. Yes.


So in New Zealand, about a two hour drive from Auckland, where I am, they have kept one of the sets of Hobbiton going. And there's little hobbits in there and little hobbit houses, and you can pay a ticket and go along. I'm going to probably jump on the bus and take a bus ride to Hobbiton because I noticed when I was flying over to New Zealand, so many people on the plane were watching Lord of the Rings.


Oh, they were getting in the spirit.


No, they do. People do that, apparently, when they come to New Zealand now. And so I figured I'll go to Hobbiton and have a look around and maybe record some audio there.


I love it. Oh, I can't wait.


Yeah, it'll be good. It'll be good. But in the meantime, let's all go and eat donuts.


Donut Day.


Donut Day. Rob, go and eat your trendy sidebar donuts. I'll go and find whatever donuts they have here in New Zealand. And Monica, we know where you're going.


You know exactly. I think you You are 14 % more American and 14 % more Cambodian.


Thank you. This is nice. It's like it's taking the show in a different direction. We need to chase these stats, actually, with the ups and downs and see how American I'll become because I haven't been keeping a track of this quite chaotic system we're using.


I know. Yeah, someone should go do that. Let us know in the comments. All right.


I'll see you guys soon. See you next week. Bye. Bye.