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Politics shouldn't overtake the experience of watching sports, drinking coffee, or eating a hamburger

By S.E. Cupp, Tribune Content Agency on

One coffee, black, hold the politics: Companies are coming to terms with how much activism customers want with their brands; it's a hard line to draw.

How would you like your coffee -- milk, sugar and a side of politics?

In an era when it seems impossible to divorce politics from everything else, Dunkin' Brands, the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts, is betting you might just appreciate a break whilst in their stores.

At an International Trademark Association meeting Monday, Dunkin's vice president of brand stewardship Drayton Martin told a room full of professors pointedly, "We are not Starbucks. We aren't political. We don't want to engage you in political conversation, we want to get you in and out of our store in seconds." She also reportedly added, "We don't want people burning their Munchkin boxes."

This stands in refreshingly stark relief from the in-your-face political preaching of some other companies. And not just Starbucks, where former chairman/CEO and presidential might-run Howard Schultz waded heavily into politics. Starbucks named their stores "gun-free zones," announced it will hire refugees in protest of President Trump's immigration ban, and infamously launched an ill-fated campaign to have baristas confront unsuspecting customers about race after handing over their half-caf, no foam, skim mocha lattes.

In 2017, Pepsi apologized for a cringeworthy ad featuring model Kendall Jenner at a fictional Black Lives Matter protest, seeming to solve race relations by handing a police officer a soft drink; it managed to tick off multiple competing activist groups.

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Earlier this month, Burger King debuted its Real Meals, the mental-health conscious alternative to McDonalds' Happy Meals. At select stores, consumers can choose the Pissed Meal, the Blue Meal, the Salty Meal, the YAAAS Meal and the DGAF Meal. The company's explanation of how, exactly this would affect our national mental health crisis, was "With Real Meals, the Burger King brand celebrates being yourself and feeling however you want to feel." Many people, however, saw it for what it was: a marketing ploy that exploited a very real health crisis.

Corporate America's path to wokeness has been littered with casualties, and Dunkin' clearly wants to avoid becoming part of the carnage.

Others might be catching on.

This week, ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro revealed in a Los Angeles Times interview, "Without question our data tells us our fans do not want us to cover politics," marking a significant shift in coverage by the sports outlet, which had come under increasing scrutiny for foisting politics on unwitting sports fans.

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