With yet another gripping season of the Great British Bake Off nearing an end, Stormie Lucy Hancock takes a look at the story of the cronut and how the baking fusion went viral…
The year was 2013, a time previous to which ordinary folk ate singular pastry options such as the croissant and the doughnut, until… the cronut was born. Described by many as the most viral dessert item ever, just one day after being released, images of the pastry-combo treat brought 140,000 links back to its creator, American pastry chef Dominique Ansel. And following in its wake, there have been many pretenders to the foodie lovechild throne since. Who could forget the pizzaburger? A 1,360 calorie bacon cheeseburger wrapped in a pepperoni pizza and cooked like a calzone. Or indeed, who among us doesn’t occasionally hanker after a sushi burger? The £8 snacking solution from chain Yo! Sushi, which contains meat or fish in a ‘bap’ made of toasted rice. But none have had quite the same recognition as the cronut. Why?
Ansel describes the day they launched the cronut as a pretty low key Friday with a new product that his customers loved – nothing new about that – and again not unusually, that evening there was a small write-up on a foodie website, but by the following morning the social media onslaught had begun and there was a line around the block waiting for the shop to open. And so there has been every day since, with bakeries across the world creating imitation cronuts.
As Ansel himself professes: “You can never predict what ideas will go viral. The only thing you can do is keep producing, keep thinking” but here are a few simple take-aways from his attention grabbing dessert…
Simplicity. In this case, the name really says it all. Customers understand the hybrid concept in a nano-second because of the seriously succinct name Ansel chose, and which in turn has left many a copycat baker scrabbling for a name anywhere near as good.
Be exceptional. In order to have strong talkability and therefore strong sharability, you have to do something exceptional. Ansel’s pastry creation is extremely difficult to make since frying croissant pastry dough is a very volatile business. He tried ten different recipes before settling on the current one and learned to fry the cronut in grapeseed oil at an undisclosed temperature.
Keeping it fresh. Each month the bakery launched a new flavour cronut. Previous incarnations have included rose vanilla, lemon maple and coconut – all bringing with them a fresh wave of excitement to try the limited edition variety.
With the launch of Ansel’s newest creation last month, the Pretzel Lobster Tail and the final of this year’s Great British Bake Off tonight, its the perfect time to try making your own cronut with GBBO star Edd Kimber’s take on it… the fauxnut.
Lucy Hancock is an Account Manager at Storm Communications in the Consumer team.