Fast Food: Dunkin' Donuts Smokehouse Sausage Sandwich

Fast Food

Would you like fries (or onion rings or chicken tenders) with that?


[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

I'm going to my girlfriend's work holiday party on Friday, which means I'll meet a bunch of doctors and similar fancies, all of whom will have either cool accents or no accents. It's not that all of these doctor types will be from someplace exotic (or one of those accentless pockets of Ohio); it's that successful people know that unless you're from an audibly charming place like Scotland or India or Mississippi, it's best to train yourself to sound like the world's most highly evolved GPS.

My untamed squawk, on the uglier hand, betrays my working-class Massachusetts background. I have plenty of Masshole pride, but I realize my people sound like the audio equivalent of losing your wallet while stuck in traffic on the way to an uninsured appendectomy.

This wouldn't be a problem, except these melodious high-ranking people often give my girlfriend small gifts, and I just know they're going to take one listen to my voice and start replacing the Starbucks gift cards with ones from Dunkin' Donuts.

Despite accented evidence to the contrary, I have little use for Massachusetts's most famous fast food export. The bagels are giant and bland and terrible. I don't eat enough donuts to qualify as an expert Dunkin' denouncer, but I hear bad things about the namesake product. And I'm no great lover of Starbucks coffee, but it's far better than the Dunkin' stuff.

There is one area, however, where DD has been known to pull off the occasional pleasant surprise, and that's with their sandwiches. They're pushing the Smokehouse Sausage Breakfast Sandwich pretty hard these days, so I tried one in a desperate attempt to find a way out from under the impending gift card avalanche.

The SSBS is sausage, egg, and cheese on an English muffin. (Revolutionary!) But the sausage's pedigree is supposed to distinguish this from every other Dunkin' Donuts breakfast sandwich. It's from Hillshire Farms, which doesn't mean much to me, and its novel shape—a split link rather than a patty—seems a dubious departure, since "It's easy to cram into your mouth" sits pretty high on the list of positives regarding most DD sandwiches.

But I must admit it's a pretty nice piece of fast food sausage. The casing doesn't have a ton of snap, but there's just enough textural contrast between the skin and the guts to justify the link choice. The taste is very hot-doggy, but there's a touch of smokiness that nudges it toward kielbasa territory. The flavor and texture work well enough to make you overlook the way the shape prevents ideal bite-to-bite consistency.

The muffin's not bad, either. It doesn't have much flavor, but mine was well-toasted and had the requisite cragginess; it wasn't one of those store-brand frauds that are really just mushy white bread in an English muffin's clothing. The exterior cornmeal blizzard didn't serve any discernible purpose, but it didn't wreck the party, either.

The egg was the standard too-chewy Dunkin' Donuts microwaved disk. It wasn't any good, but I've had worse at hotel continental breakfasts. By worse, I mean "identical but cold."

The cheese was a big disappointment, and I say that as a man who expects very little of the square of yellow American flopped atop his fast food breakfast sandwich. I just want it to be melted, and this one wasn't. I suspect I got a defectively assembled sandwich, because I can't imagine the recipe calls for the cheese to be added straight from the fridge. It had no flavor and was therefore useless, but I could see a melted slice filling in some muffin gaps and holding the sausage in place.

The Smokehouse Sausage Sandwich is very filling (as it should be for $4 and 550 calories), and while the eggs, bread, and cheese lack character, the slightly smoky and very salty sausage makes up enough of the difference to turn this into a viable breakfast option, even if you're paying cash.