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Q&A: Dunkin' Donuts' Creative Willy Wonka

Chef Stan Frankenthaler, executive chef of Dunkin' Brands, looks through the
testing window at a corporate kitchen.

Chef Stan Frankenthaler, executive chef of Dunkin' Brands, looks through the testing window at a corporate kitchen. Photograph by Michele McDonald

Before Stan Frankenthaler became executive chef and vice president of global product innovation at Dunkin’ Brands, he was a three-time James Beard award nominee. In 2005, he left behind white tablecloths to shed fine dining expertise on the Canton, Mass., company’s lineup, including coffees, donuts, and ice cream. Dunkin’s strategy includes a constant rotation of limited-time options, and Frankenthaler’s team of roughly 20 chefs keeps busy launching about 25 new items every year at Dunkin’ Donuts, plus roughly 18 new items at Baskin-Robbins in the U.S. alone.

Under his watch, Dunkin’ has launched such hits as the Big N’ Toasted breakfast sandwich in the U.S. and expanded overseas with pork donuts and bubble tea in China. As the team prepares to roll out two new fall coffee flavors next week—Pumpkin White Chocolate and Pumpkin Mocha—and puts final touches on a recipe for a nutty cream cheese brownie ice cream that Baskin-Robbins will launch in November, Frankenthaler talks to Bloomberg Businessweek about the challenge of churning out new recipes without creating “frankenfoods.”