If you’re unfamiliar with a restaurant creation called the Cronut, there’s probably not a bit of black clothing in your wardrobe. And don’t embarrass yourself by asking youngsters on the staff if Daft Punk is sort of like The Sex Pistols.
You need to catch up with the times, man. The Cronut is the strongest infatuation for New York foodies since the chocolate martini. It’s also the most brilliant business innovation the industry has seen in some time.
Imagine a light, flakey croissant in the shape of a doughnut. Voila: The Cronut. So what’s the big deal? The New York purveyor, Dominique Ansel Bakery, bakes only 200 of the delectables a day, then sells them for $5 each.
People line up in the vain hope they’ll be graced with one. It’s harder to get for die-hard New Yorkers than a rent-controlled two-bedroom.
No doubt bakers and chefs are trying to concoct their own versions as you read this. But they should be careful. The industry has seen its share of flashes in the pastry pan. Consider these past skyrockets:
The Chipwich: Picture an ice cream sandwich made with oversized chocolate chip cookies as the outer parts you hold. For a summer not long after the Sex Pistols era, you had to buy one regularly from a fleet of Chipwich sidewalk carts if you wanted any respect from fellow trendinistas. Then it was gone as quickly as it started. But savvy marketers learned a lesson: If I recall correctly, the Chipwich was outrageously expensive for street ice cream—I think three or four bucks. It proved you could charge almost anything for a product that was deemed trendy. It was also a harbinger of the trucks and street food crazes.
Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies: Around the same time, debates would erupt at the water cooler over which purveyor had the best cookies: Famous Amos, David’s, or Mrs. Fields. Again, you paid considerably more for that new batch of cookies, which had to be fresh-baked, if not still hot, if you wanted the full effect. Hail the first flush in modern times of the relatively small (and hence relatively guiltless) indulgence, sold at a super-premium price.
Modern day s’mores: Not the old Girl Scout version, dripping with molten chocolate after the marshmallow is melted over a campfire. These were much more of a stylized version, usually offered in components that dessert eaters could prep at the table.
Krispy Kreme doughnuts: Yes, they’re still around. But their current popularity is a step down from the craze they spawned in the 1990s when that Hot Now sign flicked on. They were proof that an old standby can suddenly look chi-chi if you put enough molten sugar on it.