A cop walks into a donut shop may sound like the start of a joke, but fighting counterfeit donuts is no laughing matter for Dunkin' Donut. When they suspect that a franchise store is selling fake donuts, they send in specially trained undercover agents:
"I used to be able to reach in and pull out a donut, and be able to smell and determine whether it was a Dunkin' Donut," Michael Mershimer, former head of loss prevention for Dunkin' Donuts and Quiznos, told ABCNews.com.
Dunkin' Donuts didn't just rely on Mershimer's nose. It has a lab in Canton, Mass., where Dunkin' investigates fraudulent pastries with the zeal of a forensics team. Donuts are weighed, measured, taken apart by experts in white lab coats. They are tasted, sniffed and mashed to see how they crumble.
Across America's thousands of franchise restaurants are more than 300,000 undercover food cops, pulling apart donuts, inspecting sub sandwiches, and checking burger patties for authenticity. The mystery shoppers are part of a loss prevention strategy that tries to ensure major brands - Quiznos, Baskin Robbins, Burger King - maintain consistency and don't lose money to crafty franchise owners.