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Anthony Agard, from Queens, NY, shows off a Cronut he purchased after standing in line since 3:00 am in the mooring in New York, NY, on June 18, 2013.

Customers wait as long as five hours outside Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City to buy cronuts, a cross between a doughnut and a croissant.

Photograph by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

Catherine Zuckerman

National Geographic

Published August 19, 2013

It was bound to happen. In these days of goat cheese-and-honey ice cream and bibb lettuce cocktails, palates are primed for the unexpected. People are obsessed with the new. And if it happens to be delicious, the world pretty much goes mad.

Case in point: the cronut. Bearing the looks of a doughnut and the inner workings of a croissant, this confectionary hybrid has become a near-global sensation since its creator, Dominique Ansel, debuted it at his New York City pastry shop in May.

"It's very much like a doughnut and croissant and yet completely different from both," says Ansel, who grew up in Beauvais, France, just north of Paris. "You have the crispy sugary outside of a doughnut and the flaky tender layers of a croissant on the inside."

And it's not simply fried croissant dough, Ansel adds—his dough is a specialized mix developed specifically for the cronut.

Customers line up in the early morning hoping to score an order of Ansel's cronuts (ten bucks for two). And those growling stomachs aren't just from around town. "We've had people come from Australia, Brazil, Singapore, Berlin, the Philippines, and even Kenya," says Ansel.

 

 Chef Dominique Ansel packages croissant-doughnut hybrids (known as
Chef Dominique Ansel packages cronuts at his bakery in New York City.

Photograph by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

 

How the Two Met

Fans may believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but the cronut owes its existence to the two treats that came before it.

The culinary encyclopedia Larousse Gastronomique defines the croissant as "a crescent-shaped roll generally made with a leavened dough," and offers this story of its birth:

"This delicious pastry originated in Budapest in 1686, when the Turks were besieging the city. To reach the centre of the town, they dug underground passages. Bakers, working during the night, heard the noise made by the Turks and gave the alarm. The assailants were repulsed and the bakers who had saved the city were granted the privilege of making a special pastry in the form of a crescent in memory of the emblem on the Ottoman flag."

The American-born, Paris-based pastry chef and author David Lebovitz—who has written about croissants on his popular blog—cites a similar history: "Most believe that it was probably invented by the Viennese when they were sparring with the Turks, and someone invented a 'crescent' (the symbol of Turkey) to bite into."

Doughnuts are a different story. According to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, the deep-fried cakes have roots in Europe and the Middle East. One of the earliest incarnations was the Dutch oliekoecken (oil cake), which was made with yeast dough, eggs, butter, spices, fruit, and sugar and served during the Christmas season. By the mid-19th century, doughnuts had made their way into American cookbooks and kitchens.

Could the cronut—a name Ansel has trademarked—become the next pastry classic? It has gained worldwide fame via social media in the months since its debut, but not everyone is convinced.

"I think it's a fad that will pass," says Lebovitz.

Cronut Copycats

What's a far-flung cronut craver to do if a trip to New York is impossible? Not to worry, imitations abound!

At Emporio Santa Maria, a high-end specialty foods store in Sao Paolo, Brazil, cronut-like pastries are now available every day at 4:30 in the afternoon. At a café in Taiwan they're served with fruit and whipped cream. Some Netherlands bakeries are riding the cronut wave too. In South Korea, the "New York Pie donut" is now on the menu at some Dunkin' Donuts stores. In London, chef Dan Doherty at Duck & Waffle has recently introduced the "dosant" on his brunch menu. Then there's the KLonut, Malaysia's answer to Ansel's invention.

Whether or not the cronut will make it into any food dictionaries or historic registers remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure: the world is sweet on it now.

What are your favorite food mashups? Could the inchezonya be next? Share your stories in the comments.

8 comments
Richmond Acosta
Richmond Acosta

Cronut could be a name of a fictitious currency in a fantasy novel for kids.

Hamoon Chauhan
Hamoon Chauhan

wow there are many health experts here ,i dont even know what is going to happen to me in next second,so till i live i love to enjoy food.

Vedran Profil
Vedran Profil

People are really stupid. And when they surprise you with their stupidity, wow, there's another surprise right around the corner and it's called cronut... 

and not to mention it's extremely unhealthy...

George Glasser
George Glasser

There was a doughnut shop in Oakland, California that made them back in the 1960/70s. Also, Publix Supermarkets (Florida) just sugar coated croissants they sold in the bakery section - good stuff, but nothing new or particularly innovative .

C. Dufour
C. Dufour

Interestingly enough, the cronut has led the emerges of a black- cromarket where people go in line to get there 5 cronut limit. Then sell the extra to people who don't have time to get in line.

on kijiji and craigslist, the avergae price for a black market cronut seems to be around 30$ a piece but there are many people making fakes that are not quite as tasty.

John C.
John C.

$5 for a donut? And people wait in line 5 hours for it? You'd have to be out of your mind with lots of free time on your hands. 

David Guerra
David Guerra

@Vedran Profil Don't like pastry eh? Yeah I guess you're right. Only stupid people like pastry. Don't they know eating pastry makes them fat and raises their cholesterol? Such dumbasses, stuffing themselves with delicious cakes...

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