Donut Shop Showdown: Dunkin Donuts vs Honey Dew Donuts

I grew up on the south shore of Massachusetts. When I was little, I knew only of one donut shop, Honey Dew Donuts. Then someone new came to town, Dunkin Donuts, and since then they’ve basically taken over the world. Maybe that’s a little dramatic or overstating things, but they are in 32 countries. I’d say that’s pretty widespread anyway.

Both chains are New England based. Honey Dew was founded in Mansfield, Mass. in 1973. Dunkin Donuts was founded not far from there in Quincy, Mass in 1950. Honestly, I was sure Honey Dew was older until I looked up the facts. Call me shocked.

Within the last few years more Honey Dew locations began popping up and being in New Hampshire that was a fun sight. A nice memory from my childhood. At some point, I got it in my head how fun it’d be to compare these two donut shops. Would one come out on top and be a clear winner? That’s what I wanted to find out.

While I love Dunkin Donuts, I need to make a plea for them to train their employees better. I cannot emphasize enough how awful our experiences are. I mean it’s a coffee shop. It can’t be that hard to get an order correct, right? 8 out of 10 times, our local shop doesn’t get our orders right. We pull up and we have to repeat it to them. Honestly, it’s not just that one shop… another local shop can’t make fruit coolattas. They’re typically over frozen and lacking flavor. And while we’re on the topic of customer service, my first experience at our local Honey Dew shop was fantastic. The girls were friendly, got our order right and didn’t have any issues with the machines. We’ll get back to all of that…

The side by side comparison included: a medium hot chocolate, a glazed (or honey dipped) donut, jelly and Boston cream.

Total Price
Dunkin Donuts: $5.19
Honey Dew: $5.02

Glazed/Honey Dipped
Dunkin Donuts: From experience, I know these are typically very sweet and the glaze is nearly always wet and very sticky. The Mr stated it initially had a “chemical taste” to it.
Honey Dew: As you can see, is much larger than it’s competitor. The glaze is completely crusted over and dry.
The winner: Honey Dew. I’d say they’re pretty much known for this particular donut.

Dunkin Donuts: 
Extremely squishy and often wet on the outside. We found the jelly to have a nice sweetness.
Honey Dew: Had a fantastic sugar coating that was not moist at all, however the jelly flavor was too mild and blended in with the flavor of the donut.
The winner: Dunkin Donuts. The jelly is the key to these donuts so it has to be just right. I’d love to take Dunkin Donuts jelly and put it inside of a Honey Dew donut.

Boston Cream
Dunkin Donuts: The chocolate was thin and sweet, unlike typical Boston cream desserts. The pudding was creamy and had nice vanilla flavor.
Honey Dew: This one offered a thicker coating of a darker chocolate, which is more traditional. However, the pudding lacked the right flavor and was not at all creamy.
The winner: Dunkin Donuts. While the chocolate is important, the pudding is essential. As with the jelly comparison, if we could blend these two donuts together with Honey Dew’s chocolate and Dunkin Donuts pudding, we’d have a perfect Boston cream donut.


Hot Chocolate
Dunkin Donuts: I regularly order hot chocolate in the winter. My biggest complaint is that it is always scorching to the point that I have to let it sit for at least 20 minutes prior to being able to take a single sip so I don’t burn myself. Isn’t there some kind of law against a drink being above a certain temperature? Or hasn’t there been lawsuits over this? Anyway… on this particular visit the girls were having trouble with the machine. This hot chocolate had an extremely watered down taste. Gross. Normally that isn’t the case. I usually love their hot chocolate.
Honey Dew: The Mr hit this one dead on… it tasted like Swiss Miss. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing but if I wanted packet mix hot chocolate, I’d buy a box and make it myself… not spend $2 to get it from a donut shop.
The winner: This one I decided was a draw because Dunkin Donuts botched this cup and while Honey Dew wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t fantastic either. Such sadness…

I love the Honey Dew shops and customer service SO much more than Dunkin Donuts. I mean how freaking cute are these old time-y display cases. Dunkin Donuts shops are basic and boring, fitting a mold. They’re not inviting. Not that a donut shop has to be inviting, but it’s a nice change of pace.

Conclusion… even though Dunkin Donuts deeply disappoints me 80% of the time by messing up our orders, being out of stock on something and especially no longer carrying cranberry juice… which by the way, is particularly awful considering they’re a New England based company which is land of cranberries!!! This deeply upsets me as cranberry juice is my drink of choice 97% of the time.  Dunkin Donuts won this battle. I had such high hopes for Honey Dew, I really did, but they just didn’t come out on top.

*Note: store image was taken using an iPhone.  All opinions are completely my own and am in no way endorsing either company.

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21 Responses to “Donut Shop Showdown: Dunkin Donuts vs Honey Dew Donuts”

  1. #
    amy @ fearless homemaker — October 31, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Do you have any idea how hungry you’re making me for donuts?!?! It’s been probably 15+ years since I’ve had a Honey Dew donut, so i barely remember them, + we only have a tiny handful of DDs here, so i rarely eat those either. SOB! The good news is we have a fabulous Southern chain called Shipley Donuts which is my Nashville go-to donut shop. I love donuts!

    • #
      Rachel — October 31, 2012 at 9:53 am

      I need to find a local shop to compare. It’d be awesome if a small town shop won out!

  2. #
    Gina @ Running to the Kitchen — October 31, 2012 at 9:35 am

    This is awesome. I’ve always wondered how the two compare. There aren’t many Honey Dew in NY, but after living in New England for 2 years out of college and making the CT-Boston trek for work weekly, I’ve had my fair share of both.
    ps-I’ve never craved a donut more than I do now after seeing those perfectly halved ones up above. Jelly for the win. Always.

    • #
      Rachel — October 31, 2012 at 9:54 am

      Yes! Jelly sister :) The only thing better might be a chocolate frosted… or with sprinkles.

  3. #
    Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen — October 31, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Ooooh looks good! I cannot even eat DD after having Krispy Kreme. There is no comparison to me. :) However I DO like the DD bagel twists.

  4. #
    Stephanie — October 31, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    I grew up with Dunkin and haven’t really heard of any others. Ever since moving away from the East Coast, I haven’t had real GOOD doughnuts in a very very long time.

    I hear DD’s opening shop in SLC next year though and I’m excited!! I bet it won’t taste the same though. Using different water and all..

  5. #
    Erin — October 31, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Totally agree on the DD service and ridiculously hot beverages. I always need to repeat my order seven times and – you’d think I’d have learned by now – I always burn my mouth on their coffee. I need to find a Honey Dew when I’m in the Northeast sometime. Have you ever tried Tim Horton’s? They are my favorite, but are limited to Canada, upper midwest and upstate NY.

  6. #
    amanda @ fake ginger — October 31, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Oh man doughnuts. They tore our DD down for remodeling so I haven’t had a doughnut is FOREVER. I wish we had Honey Dew here – they look really good!

  7. #
    Michelle Collins — October 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    My first job was at the Honey Dew Donuts in Nashua, N.H. I loved that place, and have always been a big promoter of it. However, my fiance and I went to a Honey Dew over the weekend, and it was absolutely awful. I hope all locations aren’t that bad now!

  8. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — October 31, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I looooove this donut review!! DD always has my heart. I don’t like Krispy Kreme. I don’t think we really have any local donut shops here. Oh man, but the real winner is Top Pot in Seattle.. HANDS DOWN. You need to go!

  9. #
    Georgie — November 1, 2012 at 6:55 am

    All the local donut makers here taste way better than DD. It’s my guilty pleasure twice a week. I’m hooked on one called the blueberry crumble, swoon.

  10. #
    Pat — November 1, 2012 at 11:05 am

    “…even though Dunkin Donuts deeply disappoints me 80% of the time…” How DD came out on top after you made that statement completely kills your credibility as a food blogger. And calling Hot Chocolate a draw after not even getting the product you ordered? Well, that’s a mystery. Better keep your day job.

    • #
      Rachel — November 1, 2012 at 11:46 am

      Nice to see that you have the ability to crop a sentence and change the context completely. Not approving of the service of a store, shop or brand does in no way kill my credibility.

  11. #
    Michelle — November 1, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I have actually never been to a honey dew ! But I agree how much nicer and tastier the donuts look when you can see them close up in the glass case :) DD should totally do that ! I bet it would up their baked goods sales to see all the varieties up close !

    • #
      Rachel — November 1, 2012 at 11:47 am

      I completely agree! People first eat with their eyes and nose. A redesign of their shops could only help.

  12. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — November 1, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Oh I LOVE LOVE this post, Rachel!

    DD always botched my orders too when I lived in Chicago and there was one on every corner. It’s like really…it’s a donut. Put it in a bag but invariably, something would go wrong. They have great fillings, jellies, and creams. Their donut base is not my fave. If I could put DD fillings into Krispy Kreme donuts, I’d be in heaven! Sort of like you with the Honey Dew. Never had those.

  13. #
    Kristi@My San Francisco Kitchen — November 2, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Ahhh these donut pics are killing me!! They look soooo good :)

  14. #
    Faith — November 5, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    This was such a fun post idea, Rachel! In my area there isn’t a Honey Dew, but for us it’s Tim Hortons (which we affectionately call Timmy Ho’s) vs Dunkin Donuts. Ironically, Timmy’s coffee is always better, but I prefer a lot of Dunkin’s food over Timmy’s. Definitely wish there was a way to combine them. (And you are SO RIGHT about the customer service at Dunkin!!)

  15. #
    nicole @ I am a Honey Bee — November 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I love honey dew donuts so much more than dunkin’s. Their glazed donut is so good. totally agree with you

  16. #
    mechelle — December 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    can u make the chocolate filled ones? those are my favorite ones but cannot figure out the creamy chocolate filling

    • #
      Rachel — December 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      I haven’t made any filled donuts personally, but perhaps that will be on my list at some point.

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