Celebrity | Television

What Happened To Fred The Baker, Dunkin' Donuts' Legendary Mascot?

Alchetron / Bebeton Matthews

Unless you lived under a rock in the '80s and '90s you know who Fred the Baker was.

Fred the BakerAlchetron

Appearing in almost 100 ads for Dunkin' Donuts, he helped to put the coffee and donut chain on the map, while his signature catchphrase "Time to make the donuts!" took on a life of its own.

But the man behind the apron, actor Michael Vale, had a successful career before he became a mascot. He was a classically trained actor, who appeared on Broadway and on TV shows like Car 54, Where Are You? and the Cosby Show.

Fred at a Dunkin' chain in the 1990s.WayToFamous

While he even had roles in Hollywood movies like Marathon Man, Vale was always best-known as Fred. He appeared in lots of memorable commercials for Dunkin' including this one, which he says was his favorite because "I got paid twice."

But why doesn't Fred the Baker appear on TV anymore? What happened to Vale and his most famous character?

By the time Dunkin' Donuts considered retiring Fred in the late '90s, the chain felt like they had to ask for America's permission first.

Fred poses for a photo with Dunkin' executives.Alchetron

The company took an opinion survey, which found Americans would let Fred "retire" as long as he was given a respectful sendoff from the company for all his hard work.

To honor their mascot on his retirement day, Dunkin' held a parade through the streets of Boston and offered free donuts across America on his final day, handing out more than 6 million on Septermber 22, 1997.

Fred's final commercial for Dunkin'.

The public said they didn't want anyone to replace Fred, and while the chain has had giant dancing shakes and doughnuts in their commercials they haven't hired another baker since Fred left the company.

Sadly, Vale passed away in 2005 due to complications from Diabetes. To remember his life and legacy, Dunkin' ran special memorial commercials with clips of his best ads in 2005. Today, their boxes still say "Time to make the donuts!"

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I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com