Food Ten years ago: Cronut becomes a viral food trend

Half croissant, half donut, a layer of cream: ten years ago the Cronut took the world by storm. Since then, attempts have been made to repeat the success story – and gourmets are rolling their eyes.

Yes, the Cronut is still there. Even still in a new flavor every month. The malt caramel is for December, for around seven dollars (6.50 euros) per piece, according to star pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s New York bakery.

But what no longer exists are the long queues. Ten years ago, the introduction of the Cronut – half croissant, half donut, with a layer of cream inside and on top – created such a hype that hundreds of people lined up in front of Ansel’s bakery early in the morning to get their hands on one of the coveted pastries, back in 2013 still for five dollars. Some of the squiggles were resold online for many times more. You can now still buy a Cronut in the afternoon at the bakery in the trendy Soho district of Manhattan.

The rush for the pastry has subsided – but its success has been lasting. The Cronut, whose name Ansel has long since patented, became famous worldwide and is now considered the mother of all staged and Instagrammable food trends. Since then – in New York and around the world – ramen burgers, rainbow bagels and countless other, mostly briefly hyped offers have followed.

Viral food trends as a target for catering businesses

For example, an ex-chef of former US President Donald Trump sparked a hype with giant milkshakes. The spectacular calorie bombs made from ice cream, milk, syrup and lots of sweets are now even available in Dubai. In Berlin and elsewhere, cruffins (a mixture of croissants and muffins) and croffles (a mixture of croissants and waffles) emerged.

Since the Cronut, viral food trends have been the goal of almost every new catering business – in the hope of getting a lot of buzz and thus many paying customers and setting themselves apart from the competition, says gastronomy expert Adam Platt from “New “York Magazine”. “Every chef who opens a new restaurant today comes up with one or two dishes that they hope will go viral on Instagram. We call it Instagram bait.”

It all started in New York

According to restaurant critics, it is no coincidence that food trends have conquered the world from New York of all places. Running a restaurant business in this city is more difficult and expensive than anywhere else, says restaurant critic Alan Sytsma from New York Magazine. “People see it as a way to cement their legacy – that they made it to New York and succeeded here.” The competition is greater, good employees are more difficult to get and keep and the audience is more demanding than elsewhere.

But that also means that trends are constantly being born in the metropolis. “Everything is played out and whatever comes through in the end, whatever New Yorkers choose, is broadcast to the world. If it’s done in New York, then it’s officially trending.”

How exactly do such trends arise and what works?

This is a mixture of coincidence, artificial scarcity, sophisticated marketing – especially online via social media – and the novelty factor. To go viral, the creations should ideally be novel, very photogenic, relatively simple and not too expensive. Cronut inventor Ansel simply called “New York Magazine” – but was surprised by the success. “I wasn’t expecting anything,” he told Forbes magazine. “I just wanted to do this for Mother’s Day and then it went viral and it was crazy to see.”

However, not everything works: Ansel himself has invented numerous other creations since the Cronut, including a watermelon ice cream in a piece of real watermelon with bitter chocolate seeds, a peach ice cream that becomes a flower when you put it in the packaging on top, and a square kiwi ice cream. These creations also spread rapidly on Instagram – but there was no rush like the Cronut.


Gourmets and restaurant critics are critical of food trends. Some of the creations are certainly delicious, say Sytsma and Platt from New York Magazine, for example. But they still advise following your own taste and not giving in to every hype: “Don’t eat such things, don’t take photos of them, don’t pay any attention to them.”

Nevertheless, food trends seem unstoppable. New York just experienced a kind of “Cronut 2.0” with the Suprême, a kind of very photogenic croissant, round and filled with different flavors of cream. Long lines once again formed in front of the Lafayette Grand Bakery in the Noho district of Manhattan and the pastries sold out extremely quickly. The Suprême, wrote the gastro portal “TastingTable”, is the “hotter and cooler older sister of the Cronut”.