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2013: The Year in Cronuts

Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

There's a reason pastry chef Dominique Ansel's mania-inducing Cronuts and the epic lines they've created took home both Eater National and Eater NY's awards for Spectacle of the Year, respectively. The hybrid pastries have inspired countless customers to wait for hours day in and day out, month after month since their release in May. There were Cronut television appearances. Celebrities got in on the Cronut game. And there were many, many impostors. Below, a look back at the highs and lows that made 2013 the year of the Cronut:

The Arrival of the Cronut

An actual, real cronut. [Photo: Raphael Brion/Eater]

In early May, New York City pastry wizard Dominique Ansel unleashed his Cronut on an unsuspecting public. The new doughnut-croissant hybrid quickly caused Cronut Mania, with people waiting in epic lines and scalping cronuts, all within the first weeks of the pastry's existence. Eater spoke with Ansel in May, who said of the Cronut: "It was just an addition to the menu. I didn't know it would take such a big part of the food world." Shortly after the Cronuts were released, Ansel applied for a trademark on the word Cronut.

Months later lines were (and are) still massive, and Cronut Mania hadn't slowed. In September there was a sense that the hysteria might have come to an end, since lines at the shop had apparently subsided. Turns out the mania is still in full swing — check out the line for Ansel's recent Shake Shack concrete collaboration — Ansel is just producing more now. This November, Ansel also introduced the Cronut online pre-order system, which allows customers to order the pastries from the warmth of their own home instead of braving the line in inclement weather. Although the system was promptly swamped, it still offers hope for those who are not willing to wait hours in the winter cold.

Scenes from the Cronut Line

Below, scenes from the Cronut line, presented in no particular order. For more, do check out the Cronut Line check in on Foursquare.


It didn't take long for the Cronut to inspire impostors (see here, here, and here). While Ansel initially told Eater he was flattered to be an inspiration to other chefs, he ended up putting the copycats on his shitlist. Below, highlights from the wide wide world of Cronut impostors:

Pastry Chefs Go to Extremes to Reverse-Engineer Cronuts
"Croissant Donuts" at Wildflour Cafe + Bakery, Philippines [Photo: Wildflour Cafe / Facebook]

Pastry chefs in Asia began creating their own version of Cronuts, and chef Ana Lorenzana-De Ocampo of Wildflour Cafe + Bakery in the Philippines had Cronuts flown in from Ansel's SoHo bakery to her bakery in Manila so she could assess how to begin making them herself. Bakeries like the Sweet Spot in Beijing and the Banderole chain in Japan spent months working out their own knockoff Cronut recipes, resulting in special flavors like Green Tea and Peanut Caramel.

Dunkin' Donuts in South Korea Knocks Off Cronuts
[Photo: Dunkin' Donuts South Korea]
In July, Dunkin' Donuts South Korea launched the New York Pie Doughnut, a Cronut ripoff. And yes, people lined up to get it.

Canada's Poisonous Knockoff Cronut Burgers
[Photo: Epic Burgers and Waffles]

In August, Toronto's Epic Burger and Waffles teamed up with Le Dolci bakery to bring Maple Bacon Jam Cronut Burgers to the Canadian National Exhibition. After reports started flooding in that people who consumed the novelty burger were getting sick (and in some cases hospitalized, the vendors were shut down and a full-blown investigation took place. The Health Department found staphylococcus aureus toxin in samples, and ultimately discovered the culpable ingredient was the maple bacon jam, which was created by the bakery. In Septemeber, despite that major setback (over 100 people got sick), Le Dolci announced plans to reopen as soon as it had the government's permission.

Victoria Beckham Conned by Fake Cronuts
[Photo: @victoriabeckham]

Fashion designer and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham was sucked into the mad, mad world of Cronut knockoffs. After she tweeted a picture of a dozen "Cronuts," NYC pastry chef and Cronut inventor Dominique Ansel set the record straight tweeting: "Who tricked @victoriabeckham into thinking those knockoffs were the real Cronut™? An intern who overslept and didn't wait in line? Hope not."

Cronuts on TV

[Screengrab: Late Night With Jimmy Fallon]

Cronuts are obviously telegenic. They have also become a part of pop culture, as evidenced by their many, many TV appearances including: The Chew, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (and again), Today, CNN, and many more. Also, Glee. Check out the Vine below:

Looking Ahead

[Photo: @DominiqueAnsel]

In 2013, Ansel showed himself to be a modern day Willy Wonka. Along with Cronuts, Ansel introduced several inventive pastries this year. Ansel debuted beautiful pine cones made of gingerbread. He introduced a cold cereal concoction with mini meringues in time for the holidays. And of course there was the Magic Soufflé, a Grand Marnier chocolate soufflé encased inside orange blossom brioche. Will Ansel's next pastry creation be the new Cronut? It's definitely possible.

Other Highlights from the Year in Cronuts

· Watch Reactions to a Fake 'Guns for Cronuts' Program
· Marilyn Hagerty Reviews a Cronut: "It's Very Chewy"
· Heidi Klum Saved a Seat on Her Private Jet for Cronuts
· Deathmatch: Paula Deen vs Cronuts
· Dominique Ansel Staff Threatened by Crazed Cronut Fan
· Watch the Creation of a Cronut-Bourbon Milkshake
· Vegan Propagandists Boldly Come Out Against the Cronut

· All Cronuts Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Year in Eater 2013 Coverage [-E-]