William Rosenberg

America runs on Dunkin’, but there is nothing more American than the founder’s history. Bill (William) Rosenberg was born in Boston on June 10, 1916. The son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, he began working at 12 years old, delivering orders for a small grocery store. By 14, he was a milk delivery boy on a horse-drawn cart and a telegram runner for Western Union. He left school in the eighth grade to work full-time and support his family during the Great Depression. During WWII, Rosenberg worked at the Bethlehem Steel Company and became the first Jewish trade union delegate.

After the war, Rosenberg cashed in his war bonds and borrowed money from relatives to start a business called Industrial Luncheon Services, which served coffee, pastries, and sandwiches to area factory workers. He realized that coffee and doughnuts were the best sellers, so he opened his first doughnut and coffee shop, called “Open Kettle,” on Memorial Day weekend in 1948. At the time, doughnuts were only offered in 4 flavors, but Rosenberg decided to sell 52 varieties, one for each week of the year.

In 1950, Rosenberg changed the name of his store to Dunkin’ Donuts, which is still in operation today. By 1954, he had opened five more stores and decided to franchise his business to grow throughout the country. Franchising was not yet a well-developed concept, but Bill proposed the idea at a trade show. In February 1960, the International Franchise Association (IFA) was founded, with membership open to both franchisors and franchisees.

Bill Rosenberg led the company until his retirement in 1988. Today, Dunkin’ is the world’s leading baked goods and coffee chain, serving more than 3 million customers every day.