Cronuts, the inside story: How idea was cooked up

cronuts bulk-buy

On Tues., July 2, a group of five men picked up their prepaid bulk order of 45 cronuts from Dominique Ansel, then went over to a chess table at nearby Vesuvio Playground and divvied up the “croissant-donuts” among themselves. The bakery has ratcheted up production to 375 cronuts per day, and the staff is working around the clock. It takes three days to create a cronut, and they have a shelf life of only six hours. There is only one bulk order per day. The member of the group who placed the bulk order is age 25, in advertising and lives in the Financial District, and described himself as “a big foodie.” “I knew getting a cronut was near-impossible,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t going to get up at 6 a.m. … I like them. They’re good,” he said of the cronuts. “It’s something you haven’t tasted before. They’re unique.”                        Photo by Tequila Minsky

New photo, caption and explanatory note at end of article added at 11:15 p.m. Wed., July 3.

BY LAEL HINES  |  Every morning, Lin Ha experiences the new cronut edible phenomenon firsthand.

“There is a frantic rush for them in the a.m. People are trying to sell them on craigslist or something!” said Lin, who lives near Dominique Ansel Bakery, at 189 Spring St., the crucible of the cronut’s creation.

Cronuts of course are the innovative new pastry created by South Village baker Dominique Ansel. In an interview last week, Ansel told The Villager how the pastry’s creation came about.

“Every week we gather together for a manager’s meeting, and I try to bring some snacks to inspire the cooks to be creative,” he said. “My team told me they wanted to eat doughnuts one day, but I wasn’t very familiar with doughnuts. I had my first one when I moved to New York eight years ago.

“So I took two months and made my version of the doughnut, which I called a cronut, because I laminated the dough and made it similar to a croissant. We had no idea then how popular it would be, and it was just at that time a fun team snack.”

To Ansel, the public’s insatiable appetite for the cronut was unexpected.

“The reception has been quite unlike any I’ve seen before,” he said. “Every day now we have about 200 people outside the door and everyone is so excited. We have a lot of very sweet stories surrounding the cronut, actually. One man came for a cronut because he wanted to put an engagement ring in it to propose to his girlfriend. Another couple had actually met in the cronut line. In the mornings, when the first person gets the cronut, they often run down the line high-fiving each other. That’s always a fun sight to see.”

Consumers’ cravings for the cronut seems nearly unbelievable. Hungry New Yorkers begin lining up in front of Ansel’s bakery between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.

Yet what is it exactly that makes cronuts so incredibly irresistible?

Katie, a local resident and avid baker, offered, “The appeal of the cronut comes from the combination of the light and buttery texture of the croissant with the compact shape of the donut.”

Olivier Dessyn, owner of Mille-feuille Bakery Cafe, at 552 LaGuardia Place, just five blocks away from Ansel’s bakery, recently created his own version of the cronut, which he has dubbed a French donut. (Ansel has wisely trademarked “cronut.”) Dessyn described the appeal of his new pastry creation.

“It’s extremely flaky with a melting inside,” he said. “It’s something unusual. I believe American people have gotten used to donuts; these French donuts are something new. It’s like if you have only eaten bread all your life and one day you discover the croissant. It’s just something different.”

Dessyn said it was public encouragement that forced him to start making his imitation of the cronut.

“People were constantly asking for them, so after many months we started making them. We actually started making them last week.

“If customers are asking for it,” Dessyn said, “there is no reason to not make it.”

An earlier version of this article contained a different photo, showing the group of young men who purchased a prepaid bulk order of cronuts on July 2. Due to some concerns over one of the individuals having sold two of his cronuts to passersby for a profit — which was reported by The Villager in that photo caption — The Villager has agreed to remove that photo and caption. Neither of the two men pictured in that photo was the man who scalped at least two of his cronuts, one for $20 and another for $40. That earlier photo was replaced by the one above, which shows the men divvying up the cronuts for themselves and boxing them in the distinctive Dominique Ansel  fold-up golden boxes. The men’s faces have been cropped out of the photo to protect them from being identified as the cronut scalper. Apparently concerned by The Villager’s report of two of the cronuts having been scalped right near the shop, baker Ansel has tweeted that he is considering stopping cronut bulk sales. The leader of the July 2 bulk-buying effort is upset at the controversy and fears the bakery has “lost trust” in him. As for his friend hawking two of the must-have pastries, he said, “A friend happened to sell a cronut. That’s not something I condone. There are people reselling them, scalping them, but that wasn’t my intent… . I have to live with it,” he said. “They’ll probably decide not to do bulk orders now. The damage has been done.”

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One Response to Cronuts, the inside story: How idea was cooked up

  1. What the acronym CRONUTS really stands for::

    Crazy crowds craving
    Nuggets of

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