Dunkin’ Donuts: Is the Company Becoming “Smart,” As Announced? And Why is Rachel Ray Promoting Coffee for This Donut Chain?

Is Dunkin’ Donuts becoming “smart,” as hoopla surrounding its new DDSmart Menu (being rolled out on August 6) would have you believe?

Well, according to Dunkin’ Donuts, this new “healthier” menu will include items that are either at least 25% lower in calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium, or sugar “compared to a base product or other appropriate reference product” and/or contain ingredients that are “nutritionally beneficial.”

Gotta hand it to the company for its clever marketing moves. At first blush, this new development, which we learned about, thanks to Lauren Shepherd of the AP, sounds interesting and even promising.

But, let’s face it, when you examine nutritional data a couple of the supposedly healthier items featured on the menu, the phrase “not smart” may come to mind. (At least to mine.)

Put it this way: The “healthier” medium-sized, 24-ounce Reduced Calorie Berry Smoothie still contains lots of calories (370 to be exact) and massive amounts of sugar (62 grams or about 15 1/2 teaspoons). No idea how much of that is naturally occurring sugar. (The entire drink has 73 grams total carbs or 18.25 tsp. of sugar.)

But this allegedly better-for-you beverage has, according to Dunkin’ Donuts, at least 25% less sugar than its full-calorie Strawberry Banana Smoothie. (This 24-ounce, 550-calorie regular version has 118 grams of carbs, of which 103 grams are sugar or about 25.75 teaspoons.)

Meanwhile, ingredients in this “improved” concoction aren’t anything I’d put in my body these days. The drink still contains sugar as one of the first ingredients, plus sugar in various guises (such as blackberry concentrate, blueberry concentrate, oligofructose and high fructose corn syrup). What’s more, it includes an artificial sweetener such as sucralose (the artificial sweetener sold by market-leading Splenda). .

Jennifer Moore, my research assistant and blogger here put it cleverly. She wrote to me: “Seems to me that saying the Reduced Calorie Berry Smoothie is better for you than the full-calorie Strawberry Banana Smoothie is like saying a light cigarette is healthier than a regular one.”

Now, let’s look at another ostensibly healthier breakfast item on the DDSmart menu: The nutritious-sounding Multigrain Bagel. Are you ready to dash over to Dunkin’ Donuts now to get it?

Well, I invite you to check out the ingredient list first: First off, it has still has 380 calories. Then look at what’s included: Enriched flour is its primary ingredient and high fructose corn syrup is fourth on the list. (When items are listed first, it means there’s lots contained.)

Now let’s peek at the much-touted, new DDSmart Egg White Veggie Flatbread Sandwich. Just how “smart” is this dish? You decide.

(To help you out, note that the dish has 39 carbs, that means they convert quickly to 10 tsp. of sugar; it has 290 calories; and only egg whites. What’s the matter with the yolks — many health experts, who’ve now seen the light of day point out that the yellow part of the egg is very beneficial.)

Look, I’m all for restaurants — especially fast food chains — to finally realize that more people want healthier foods to eat.

But unfortunately, many large companies still don’t “get it,” in my opinion. After all, the gulf between what companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts assume is “beneficial” and what is truly beneficial is still pretty big, if the new DDSmart menu is any indication.

One more thing: I’ve quietly held my tongue for way too long.

Why did Rachel Ray — the adorably, chirpy poster child for quick, healthy meals — team up with Dunkin’ Donuts, a collaboration she began in March 2007? I was sooo disappointed when I first started seeing these ads, because I happen to like Rachel and had hoped she’d become eventually sugar savvy.

You see, even though Rachel — winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show-Entertainment — speaks about Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, by signing on with the company, she is, in effect, promoting their sugar-filled, morning “treats” such as this Chocolate Glazed Cake Donut. (It has 340 calories and 39 grams of carbs, which translates into 9.75 teaspoons of sugar, because refined carbs are converted into sugar quickly. Most people look at just the sugar content — which is 16 grams or 4 tsp. of sugar.)

Back to Rachel. After all, isn’t she pointing out that American Runs on Dunkin’? (Actually, I think a more accurate way of putting it would be that: America Runs for a Few Minutes on Dunkin’ and Then May Soon Poop Out on Dunkin’ — because of the sugar-shock reaction.)

By allying herself with the donut company, it sure seems that Rachel isn’t hip to sugar’s dangers. (She obviously never read — or even glanced at — my book SUGAR SHOCK!, which I one of publicists sent to previously to her production company.

She seems very smart. Doesn’t she realize that by pushing Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, she’s also promoting their sugar-filled donuts?

By the way, did you hear about the TV star’s alleged remark about the DD coffee she’s pushing?

Reportedly, after taking a sip of her Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, she yelled ‘What is this shit? Get me MY coffee.’ Rumor has it, she wouldn’t continue the ad til given “her” coffee, which reportedly comes from Starbucks.

FYI, the Internet and mainstream media were buzzing about Rachel’s reported unflattering remarks about the company’s coffee, which she later brushed off as ridiculous.

I sure hope I didn’t I ruin my chances of being on the Rachel Ray Show because I was so outspoken. After all this time, I just had to say something.

This just in: At least, Rachel Ray is more into feeding America’s pets well dogs well (or at least better than Americans who run on Dunkin’ Donuts, because the cheerful chef just launched a new line of dog food, as Rachael Ray Nutrish (like nutritious, “only not,” claims Calorie Lab‘s Sarah E. White, who got the news from Portfolio.com, which picked it up from PR NewsWire

The dog food — which is touted as having “no fillers, no junk” — includes doggie treats named after her favorite furry friend, Isaboo, including “booscotti” (sure sounds like “biscotti’ to me) in bacon and peanut butter flavors. The nice news is that Rache’s decided to devote proceeds to Rachael’s Rescue, a charity that helps at-risk animals.

Jennifer Moore contributed to this SUGAR SHOCK! Blog post.

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