One of New York’s relatively new food innovations is called the Cronut, created and trademarked by Dominique Ansel Bakery in SoHo. Every morning, New Yorkers and tourists alike line up starting as early as 6 AM to buy these elusive, heavenly treats.
But…what exactly is a Cronut?
According to Ansel’s website, the Cronut is “the unique creation by Chef Dominique Ansel that many have described to be a croissant-doughnut hybrid.” I’ll be honest, the croissant + donut thing did sound pretty appetizing. Still, though, I wasn’t quite sure why anyone would be crazy enough to line up for hours just to get one, especially given the cold temperatures in New York for a good part of the year. I usually think these Black Friday-esque, “wait in line all night” gimmicks are kind of silly, but being the foodie that I am, the Cronut sounded intriguing enough to make the sacrifice.
So, of course, to find out exactly what the hype was about, I set out with a few friends to get my hands on the mysterious Cronut. After perusing the website, we found out that the flavor changes each month, and October’s flavor was Pumpkin Chai Spice. (YUM!) That added the icing (literally) to our decision to get our tired bodies out of bed and on the road at 6 AM.
We arrived to SoHo around 6:45 AM and found that a line had already formed near, but not in front of, Dominique Ansel Bakery. We weren’t even sure if the line we saw was the right one, but we figured that it couldn’t possibly be for anything else at this hour. Though we were pretty close to the front, I was surprised that on a Tuesday morning, a line had already accumulated long before we’d gotten there.
“Is this the Cronut line?” A young woman asked me as she and her mother stepped behind us, just as the sun was beginning to rise. Like us, they looked tired but intrigued.
“I think so…” I replied. At this point I really hoped that we were in the right line.
A few minutes later, my hunch was confirmed when a bakery employee came outside to greet us and hand out free drink and pastry samples. “The doors open at 8 o’clock,” she said, “we’ll be taking in about 20 people at a time.”
I checked the time. 7:13. I counted the number of people in front of us. 14. We were in the clear.
After chatting with my friends and munching on free samples for the next 47 minutes, the doors to the bakery finally opened. I couldn’t believe we’d waited over an hour for this. I was tired.
Entering the bakery, it was apparent that the staff put a LOT of time and effort into their creations. Owl-shaped desserts sat next to gold-leafed pastries, and the smell of whipped cream and butter filled the air. The bakery was tiny but, because they only let 20 people in at a time, it didn’t feel cramped. Everything looked absolutely delicious.
Each person was only allowed to pick up 2 Cronuts at a time, so my friends and I each bought two and we sat down to taste them in the back sitting room, which looked somewhat like a glass conservatory. As we unwrapped the boxes, two normal-looking donut-shaped pastries came into view. They were iced with an orange/brown glaze and smelled like cinnamon. Cutting the first one open, we could see the pastry layers in size of the round figure. The more I saw and smelled, the more excited I got to taste them.
What’s the verdict? Is the Cronut worth the wait?
Part of coming to New York as a tourist is getting used to the crowds and lines, and I think the excitement of waking up early to get your hands on a limited quantity breakfast item is a huge part of the fun. For me, although I enjoyed getting a Cronut and thought it was delicious, I probably wouldn’t go on a regular basis if I had the chance.
For those of you who are looking for a fun way to spend the morning (and don’t mind waking up early), it’s definitely worth it for a) the experience and b) the delicious, one-of-a-kind Cronut. It’s also a fun way to start a morning with friends. Also, the original Cronut is not available anywhere else, so this is definitely a classic New York thing to do.
However, if you’re not into waiting in lines, or getting up obnoxiously early, you are still in luck. Dominique Ansel’s Bakery (as well as the hundreds of other bakeries in New York) has dozens of other delicious items that you can get throughout the day, without waiting in a long, early line.
And, if all else fails, you could just preorder.
Have you ever gotten up early for something slightly ridiculous? Was it worth it? Share your story in the comments!