May 3, 2015

The Dunkin' Donuts "Time to make the Donuts" Guy

Many a morning I find myself uttering a phrase that has stuck with me since I was a kid in the early 80s.  Before going to work, I often drag my weary body out of bed and simply utter.. "Time to make the Donuts".

I've been a lifelong Dunkin' Donuts fan.  As a kid I often begged my folks to take me there to get "Munchkins" Donut Holes for breakfast.  I made my Mom buy me Dunkin' Donuts Cereal when it came out, both in glazed and chocolate versions.  Dunkin' Donuts was one of the first places where I became closely acquainted with, and succinctly started developing a taste for the intoxicating roasty dark nectar known as coffee.

Before I get too far however, maybe I should post a few of the old Dunkin' Donuts commercials for those of you who may be too young to remember the "Time to make the Donuts" Guy.   The first commercial was named one of the best five commercials of the 80s by the Television Bureau of Advertising..

That endearing "Time to make the Donuts" guy became known as 'Fred the Baker'.  Fred was played by actor Michael Vale who portrayed the character for 15 years from 1982 to 1997.  I can't think of another single actor that successfully carried a brand for so long.  What's more, he seemed to get better with time.. his character becoming ever more funny and loveable with every new commercial.  My family got to where we would crack up the second we saw his face on TV.

Mind you.. Vale's career was not a fluke.  He took acting classes with Tony Curtis and Ben Gazarra, had a wonderful career on the screen and stage, and starred in well over 1300 commercials.  Here's Vale in a commercial for Black Flag Roach Motels, with another acting great Mary Jo Catlett..

Michael Vale is sadly no longer with us, as he passed away in 2005 at the age of 83.  After his passing, Dunkin' Donuts actually ran an "In Memory of" commercial dedicated to him.  I haven't been able to find this commercial anywhere, but will make sure to post it here if I do.

The "Time to make the Donuts" tagline and all marketing that accompanied it was sheer genius.  Some thirty years later after the first commercial, it's still deeply engrained in American pop culture.  It may even rival Wendy's "Where's the Beef" slogan as far as recognizable tag lines from the 80s go.

Apart from a great marketing promotion and endearing persona that Vale superbly embodied, it got me thinking as a young boy that someone had to get up in the middle of the night to "make the Donuts", in order for them to be fresh and ready by morning.  I was.. and always will be a big fan of Michael Vale.  His legacy of the Dunkin' Donuts Baker, is a credit to both comedic character acting and good donuts alike.


  1. I loved Michael Vale! He also played Sam Breakstone in a couple of Breakstone dairy product commercials.

    1. I've seen those on YouTube. He was so awesome at what he did!


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