Have you ever dragged a piece of salty bacon through sweet maple syrup dripping from a stack of pancakes? That’s the taste sensation Dunkin’ Donuts executive Chef Stan Frankenthaler was aiming for when he came up with his newest creation: the doughnut sandwich.
The concoction, a combination of pepper-fried egg and cherrywood-smoked bacon, between two slices of glazed doughnut, debuted at the Canton-based chain’s stores across the country Friday.
Based on the early reaction from customers at the Dunkin’ Donuts on the corner of Commonwealth and Harvard avenues in Allston, Frankenthaler got it right.
“Wow,” said Cait Maynard, 18, after taking a big bite out of her first-ever doughnut sandwich. “It’s not as salty as I thought it’d be, but you know what it really tastes like? Pancake and eggs.” She chewed some more just to make sure.
“Yeah, just like a pancake — it’s so good!” said Maynard, who makes Dunkin’ Donuts part of her daily routine.
Another regular, Cody Nilsen, 20, had a similar reaction.
“I’m into it,” he said. “It’s like nothing else, one in a million, and the best of both worlds with the bacon and the egg, too.”
Even before Friday’s national rollout, a buzz was building over the “Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich,” which was test-marketed for three weeks in April at Eastern Massachusetts Dunkin’ Donuts locations. Online comments ranged from “hello heaven” to “America runs on diabetes” to “excuse me while I go have a heart attack.”
Frankenthaler said the social media response was massive and immediate.
“This was by far our biggest viral hit,” he said. “Within days of the test, people were sending pictures, tweeting ‘look what I got!’ or ‘this is so wrong!’ and it was just incredible. By overwhelming popular vote, it had to stay.”
The doughnut sandwich is actually rather mainstream. American food guru Paula Deen created a doughnut burger in 2008, and they have been a greasy staple at minor league baseball stadiums and state fairs for years. A Cincinnati diner even features a doughnut grilled- cheese sandwich.
Other fast food chains already offer items that cater to America’s fondness for bacon and obsession with anything that mixes sweet and savory foods. McDonald’s has featured McGriddles — sausage, egg, and cheese between maple syrup pancakes — since 2003, and Burger King added a bacon sundae to its menu last year.
“This is not the most unusual combination,” said Dennis Lombardi, a food industry analyst at WD Partners in Ohio. “But the doughnut is the iconic American breakfast treat, so it’ll be hard for Burger King or Wendy’s or anything else to compete on that level, even if they tackle the sweet-savory mix with something else.”
The Dunkin’ sandwich clocks in at only 360 calories — less than items billed by the chain as healthy — but it is hardly wholesome. Each one contains a total of 20 grams of fat, 13 grams of sugar, 720 milligrams of sodium, a host of artificial flavorings, and a total of 64 ingredients.
“Go get a doughnut or go get a sandwich, but this like some sort of crazy food porn that doesn’t make any sense,” said Gustavo Fontana, 39, a Dunkin’ Donuts regular from Framingham. “I can’t imagine something so disgusting is what you’d want for breakfast.”