Baskin-Robbins ice cream stores in California on Thursday began selling K-Cup packs from sister brand Dunkin’ Donuts in a move the company predicts will tap a West Coast longing for the coffee-and-doughnuts brand.
The Dunkin’ Donuts chain has been largely missing in California since 2002, when the chain pulled its final location out of Sacramento. Earlier this year, however, the Canton, Mass.-based chain opened an outlet on the Southern California Marine base Camp Pendleton, raising hopes of a larger return to the West.
Company officials at the time, however, said the move did not necessarily signify bigger plans in California, and that Dunkin’ Donuts’ westward expansion  would be based on a disciplined “hub-and-spoke” infrastructure build that is slowly moving west of the Mississippi River.
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Meanwhile, California has become one of the largest markets for Dunkin’ Donuts’ packaged coffees in grocery stores.
Parent company Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. said in July that K-Cups were coming to participating Baskin-Robbins units in California, where the brand was founded in 1945. The Baskin-Robbins chain includes about 7,000 locations globally, including about 460 in California.
“This is an exciting day for our Baskin-Robbins guests and franchisees in California,” said Nigel Travis, Dunkin’ Brands chief executive and president of Dunkin’ Donuts U.S., in a statement.
“There is incredible passion for the Dunkin’ Donuts brand on the West Coast, as evidenced by the sales of our bagged coffee at grocery stores, the recent opening of the Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant on Camp Pendleton, and in our conversations with fans on our social media channels,” he said. “We’re excited to bring our two brands together for this launch, and we look forward to keeping Californians running with our great-tasting Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at home or in the office, one cup at a time.”
Dunkin’ Donuts began offering the coffee pods designed for home use with Keurig brewers exclusively in its restaurants nationwide in August 2011.
During the second quarter, K-Cups accounted for 40 percent of same-store sales increases at domestic Dunkin’ Donuts locations , the company said. The chain’s same-store sales in the U.S. rose 4 percent during the quarter.
The K-Cup packs are available in five flavors, including Original Blend, Dunkin’ Decaf, French Vanilla, Hazelnut and Dunkin’ Dark Roast. At Baskin-Robbins, the suggested price for a 14-count box is $12.99.
The chain is celebrating with a Baskin-Robbins $1K Giveaway sweepstakes through Oct. 11, in which six guests at locations throughout the state will be surprised with a check for $1,000, a Keurig brewing system, and a year’s supply of Dunkin’ Donuts K-Cup packs.
Dunkin’ Donuts plans to double the number of its U.S. restaurants over the next two decades, with an aggressive push into nontraditional locations like universities, airports, sports stadiums and amusement parks. The chain currently has more than 10,000 units in the U.S. and 31 other countries.