Ate a cronut today. Milk and honey flavor. Surprisingly delicate and nuanced. Very sweet with subtle hints of lavender, buttery creme filling, with soft inner layers mixed with stronger textured pastry layers. Delicious. That basically sums up the 90 second relationship I had with the famed Cronut from the time I opened the box to the time I finished the last bite.
But the Cronut is so much more than a pastry to be devoured. It’s a phenomenon. It’s an example of the finest NYC trademarking, branding, and all-around hype building to hit the food scene in years. The best thing about the Cronut is… how long you have to wait to actually get a Cronut.
Today I went to Barney’s New York at the Grove at 8:10 am to wait in line for Chef Dominique Ansel’s special Oscars Weekend pop up. The first time true Cronuts had ever been served outside of NYC, or so it said. As soon as I got there I saw a line of what had to be 400 people waiting in a rainy parking lot area. The early birds had clearly been there all night. This line swelled to maybe double that by the time 10 am (the scheduled opening time) rolled around. So I got there. And I waited. And I waited. And waited. And then waited some more. Bear in mind that this is the rainiest weekend in Los Angeles in over a year (not really rainy at all, but for LA, the mere thought of rain is paralyzing for most), it’s 8am, and we are capped at two Cronuts per person for the price of $5 each.
And we were happy to do it. They closed admission at roughly 9: 20 am and we all felt like high fiving each other because we were in and the others who came slightly later than us were out. It added another level of joy and anticipation to what ended up being a three and a half hour wait for a small pastry. Every person that made it into line was happy and more than a little smug. Hey, we had planned ahead and beat the rush! We won!
This experience made me think of how important factors beyond just the food itself are in today’s eating and dining. Looking forward to that special meal or food item is a real and tangible part of the modern eating experience. It’s what makes it fun. No one has perfected the anticipation factor more than Chef Ansel and his fiercely protected and trademarked donut-croissant hybrid.
Anyways, I thought that it was well worth the wait in the morning in the rain on a Saturday to get in on what New Yorkers have known about for almost a year now since May 2013. It won’t be the last great food fad phenomenon and it won’t be the last time I wait in a three hour line to eat the “next big thing.”
As good as the Cronut tasted, its taste alone paled in comparison to the experience of lining up and earning your right to eat a Cronut. They have a perfectly fun thing going in SoHo NYC at Dominique Ansel Bakery and I am grateful that they came to Los Angeles this weekend. I will have no qualms about waiting another three hours for another Cronut when I visit NYC, because hey, it’s all about the experience.
Brian Lee is a transplant from Canada who has been out here since 2000 to attend grad school. After all of these years, there is no Canadian left. Only Los Angelino remains and he couldn’t be happier.