William Rosenberg

William Rosenberg
Born (1916-06-10)June 10, 1916
Died September 22, 2002(2002-09-22) (aged 86)
Resting place Sharon, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation Entrepreneur
Known for Founder of Dunkin' Donuts
Spouse(s) Bertha Greenberg (divorced)
Ann Aluisy
Children 3

William Rosenberg (June 10, 1916 – September 22, 2002) was an American entrepreneur who founded the Dunkin' Donuts franchise in 1950[1] in Quincy, Massachusetts, one of the pioneers in name-brand franchising, originally named the "Open Kettle" doughnut shop when established in 1948. At the end of 2011, there were more than 10,000 outlets of the chain in 32 countries.[2]

Early life

Rosenberg was born in Boston, Massachusetts, one of four children of Nathan Rosenberg, a grocery owner, and Phoebe Rosenberg (née Swart). Both parents were Jewish-German immigrants from Prussia. Rosenberg grew up in Boston's working-class Dorchester neighborhood and was educated in public schools.[2] Due to financial problems, he was forced to leave school by eighth grade to help support his family, who had lost their store during the Great Depression.


After several jobs, at age fourteen, he went to work for Western Union as a full-time telegram delivery boy. At seventeen, he started working for Simco, a company that distributed ice cream from refrigerated trucks, rising from delivery boy to national sales manager at age twenty-one, supervising the production, shipping, cold storage and manufacturing and managing 40 to 100 trucks.[3]

At the start of World War II, he joined Bethlehem Steel in Hingham, Massachusetts. He later became the first Jewish trade union delegate. After the war, Rosenberg borrowed $1,000 to add to his $1,500 in war bonds and used his knowledge of food distribution to open his first company "Industrial Luncheon Services", a company that delivered meals and coffee break snacks to factory workers on the outskirts of Boston. Rosenberg created his own catering vehicles, with sides that rose to reveal sandwiches and snacks stocked on stainless steel shelves, an early predecessor to mobile catering vehicle. Within a short time, he had 200 catering trucks, 25 in-plant outlets and a vending operation.

Noticing that forty percent of his revenues came from coffee and doughnuts, he started a retail shop that specialized in those products, opening his first coffee and doughnut shop, the "Open Kettle" on Memorial Day in 1948, later renamed "Dunkin' Donuts".[3] Instead of the five different types of doughnuts doughnut shops traditionally offered, Rosenberg offered 52 different varieties. In 1955, upon opening his sixth shop, he decided on the concept of franchising his business as a means of distribution and expansion.[2] In 1959, after the franchise idea had started to catch on, he lobbied at a trade show for the creation of the industry group that became the International Franchise Association in 1960.[4]

In 1968, Rosenberg bought Wilrose Farm in rural East Kingston, New Hampshire.[4] After being diagnosed with lung cancer in 1971, he devoted his time to the farm, becoming the largest standardbred breeder in New England and was inducted into the New England Hall of Fame of the Standardbred Industry.[3] In 1980, he donated Wilrose Farm to the University of New Hampshire,[4] and later became involved in philanthropy, primarily benefiting hospitals.[5]

In 2001, he published his autobiography, Time to Make the Donuts: The Founder of Dunkin Donuts Shares an American Journey, written with the help of Jessica Brilliant Keener.[3]

Personal life

Rosenberg was married twice. In 1937, he married Bertha "Bookie" Greenberg[6] and they had three children: Robert Rosenberg, Carol Rosenberg Silverstein, and Donald Rosenberg. They later divorced.[7][8] In 1978, he married Ann Aluisy of Farmington, New Hampshire.[7]

On September 22, 2002, Rosenberg died of bladder cancer at the age of 86 in his home in Mashpee, Massachusetts.[9]


  1. ^ Tierney, Juliet (2013-10-29). "Things you didn't know about Dunkin' Donuts". Fox News. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  2. ^ a b c David B. Green (June 10, 2013). "This day in Jewish history / Dunkin' Donuts' founder is born". Haaretz. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  3. ^ a b c d Myrna Oliver (September 23, 2002). "Obituaries: William Rosenberg, 86; Dunkin' Donuts Founder Pioneered Franchising Businesses". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  4. ^ a b c "Our Founder". Dunkin' Donuts. Retrieved 2009-07-07.
  5. ^ Murphy, Bill Jr. (2015-07-07). "How an 8th Grade Dropout Founded a $5 Billion Company (the Origin Story of Dunkin' Donuts)". Inc.com. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  6. ^ American National Biography: "Rosenberg, William (10 June 1916-20 Sept. 2002)" retrieved September 3, 2014
  7. ^ a b University of New Hampshire Library: "Guide to the William Rosenberg Papers, 1940-2002" Collection number: MC 187
  8. ^ Legacy.com: "Bertha (Greenberg) Rosenberg" retrieved September 3, 2014
  9. ^ "William Rosenberg, 86, Founder of Dunkin' Donuts". The New York Times. 2002-09-23. Retrieved 2009-07-07.

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