Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions, or personal experiences.

Since New England’s favorite breakfast chain expanded to California in 2015, America truly has run on Dunkin. No longer an “only in the Northeast” attraction, Dunkin has grown to become nationally and perhaps even globally popular.

It's so popular, in fact, that Cambridge native Ben Affleck went viral last year as he was photographed picking up Dunkin orders at his California home. And earlier this year, he flipped the script.

Ben and his wife Jennifer Lopez were both in Massachusetts, where Affleck worked the drive thru while shooting a commercial that would air during the Super Bowl.

I’m sure Ben did a fine job dishing out Wakeup Wraps and Coolatas. But respectfully, nobody can top Dunkin’s original pitch man.


A college classmate of Tony Curtis, Michael Vale was a respected character actor in New York. Despite a resume that included appearances on The Jackie Gleason Show, Car 54, Where Are You?, Kojak, and The Cosby Show, Vale didn’t have high hopes when he went to audition for a commercial role in the early '80s, according to AdAge.

Nonetheless, Vale beat out 300 other actors for the role of Fred the Baker, a Dunkin Donuts employee who was up before dawn to, well, make the donuts.


With his iconic catchphrase, Fred the Baker became an instantly recognizable figure in New England and eventually all over the Northeast in the '80s and '90s. So naturally, fans and customers were saddened in 1997 when Dunkin retired the character.

But he definitely went out in style…


Michael Vale passed away on Christmas Eve 2005 at the age of 83. Dunkin called Vale “a beloved American icon that permeated our culture and touched millions with his sense of humor and humble nature.”

And the character still lives on. As for many New Englanders, it’s impossible to walk into a Dunkin without hearing that beloved early-riser say, “Time to make the donuts…”

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