Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Cronut®

One milk and honey with lavender sugar Cronut® —
wait, is that a piece of mouse poop?

In preparation for my last routine visit to NYC, I started thinking about what I wanted to eat, as usual, about a month in advance. The Cronut® entered my mind, where the thought festered and pestered until I just had to figure out a way to try the highly hyped-up pastry I had already deemed overrated. It didn't make sense to chase an item I was cynical about, but just like pro-athlete salaries and people who enjoy snow, a lot of things in life don't make sense.

At 11am EST one Monday morning, I dove headfirst into a fierce online competition to claim a limited number of Cronut® preorders. The site was fussy ("Do I reload and lose my place in line, or do I wait? Dear God, what do I do?"), but by 11:07am EST, the site was sold out, and I was the proud owner of six fresh Cronuts®, to be picked up two weeks later within a one-hour specified window.

This is already getting ridiculous. Let's back up.

Them's the rules.

Since the Cronut® was "invented" and patented by Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo, the demand has been sickening, often resulting in six-hour lines outside of the bakery. There's a litany of instructions called Cronut® 101 that those lucky enough to behold one must adhere to. Consume within a few hours. Do not refrigerate or freeze. If you must cut, do so only with a serrated blade.

The whole thing is a real eye-roller, like so many things in that city are.

Everyone from Vice to Eater has weighed in, so it seems fruitless to devote time to the subject now. The main reason I'm slaving away at the keyboard is the high hopes of cashing in my clout with some sexy SEO action. You see, Dominique Ansel is trending this weekend, even more than usual. And it all has to do with a mouse in the house. 

I had pests in every apartment I lived in in New York. Mice — and roaches — are a part of life. In a restaurant I worked at two blocks from the river in Philadelphia, the cheeky fuckers would occasionally dance across customers' feet as they dined, prompting us to comp meals, but instead of profuse apologies, we usually just sort of shrugged — there was only so much you could do.

I did not work in a dilapidated shithole. I assure you that many, many popular restaurants in these cities deal with the same issue, it just comes down to who gets caught. When some ass posted a video on YouTube of a single mouse darting around the kitchen at Dominique Ansel, prompting the Department of Health to jerk its knee and shut the place down, the future of the Cronut® was all of a sudden lurched into uncertainty. A product of the ubiquitous phone camera, the new sport of restaurant pest-spotting is sweeping the nation with nausea. I miss the days of ignorance, don't you?

Now-ironic message on the chalkboard

I shouldn't care. I don't, actually. (See comment above about going for at least third-page Google results with this shit.) The Cronut® is an intricately layered pastry, and the painstaking effort that must have gone into its development is apparent. Still, it was somewhat difficult to bite into, the cream filling was overkill (a donut–croissant hybrid should be rich enough in my opinion), and the lavender dusting smelled faintly of old people. Perhaps worst of all, I had trouble unloading them on my friends. "No," they said, "you've waited far too long; I couldn't possibly."

I wondered what would have happened if I had left this box of Cronuts® on a park bench somewhere.
Would it have made front-page news?

While I have a thing for portmanteau, the name Cronut® seems far too cutesy for a pastry so regal, so special, so lavish. I think, overall, that croissants might just be better as croissants (unless it's a City Bakery pretzel croissant). But at $5 a pop, I can say I ate one before the Cronut® bubble burst. Before the place was shut down because they evidently found mouse crap everywhere. Before we all got too grossed out to eat outside of our home kitchens anymore.

Until last week, the most sought-after six pack in the country.

Update: Two days later, MY Cronut® photo shows up in the 30th row of Google images!
Sweet success.

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