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Behold the Cronut, the New York frankenpastry that’s taking Ottawa by storm

By Drake Fenton, OTTAWA CITIZEN July 9, 2013

OTTAWA — It’s half doughnut and half croissant. It’s breakfast and dessert at the same time. And like a brush fire in midsummer, the popularity of this Frankenstein pastry seems uncontrollable.

Created at a specialty bakery in New York in May, the pastry went viral, with imitations and spinoffs popping up across North America.

They called it the Cronut, and now, it’s in Ottawa.

Boko’s Bakery on Elgin Street started selling what they call the “Croughnut” on Canada Day.

“It’s a nice hybrid with the buttery layers of a croissant and then the crisp fried crunchiness of a doughnut,” said Jun Sakiyama, Boko’s manager. “We had really good response from customers, with many coming back later on Canada Day for another one.”

The bakery makes 30 to 50 a day, and there’s only been one time when they didn’t sell out. Sakiyama said Boko’s has four variations of the Cronut: a lemon zest custard, double chocolate, chocolate with a nut topping and one stuffed with fresh fruit purée. But be warned, the Croughnut is massive. The amount of dough used for one is the equivalent to two croissants.

Why the Elgin Street bakery decided to make a version of the pastry shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who’s been following Cronut-mania.

Go to the Craigslist web page for New York and type in “Cronuts.” Take a minute to be confused and bewildered.

“Festive Singing Cronut Delivery (Up to 4!) Any Day of the Week,” one of the listings reads.

There are dozens of these ads, all posted by “Cronut scalpers,” selling the pastry for $40 more than its regular price.

Normally $5, the Cronut was created at Dominique Ansel’s SoHo bakery in New York. In foodie circles, the dessert’s popularity went viral faster than a Kanye West faux-pas does on the Internet. By early June, hundreds of people were lining up daily at 6 a.m., two hours before Ansel’s bakery opens, to get their hands on one of the 300 Cronuts made each day.

Along with Cronut scalping, the pastry’s acclaim has led to Cronut cooking classes, a Martha Stewart endorsement and the morning Cronut line has even become a New York hot spot. As of Monday, it’s been the site of three marriage proposals.

And while Boko’s Bakery is happy to join in on the pastry’s appeal, Sakiyama said he doesn’t plan on turning his bakery into a “Croughnut dispensary.”

“We’ve had nice success in Ottawa and have been in business for 30 years,” he said. “We are known for having a wide variety of products, so this is just one more small project that we take on and that we hope helps us show off our other goods.

“But this is nice because you seldom see something crazy happen in the news in terms of baked goods, so it’s great to see a lot of hype going around.”

There’s just one small snag. The Croughnut’s days are numbered. While the actual dessert will remain at Boko’s, it will have to go by another name.

In mid-May, Ansel’s bakery copyrighted the name “Cronut” in five countries, including Canada.

“The basic idea of trademark law is that it protects people from customer confusion,” said a spokeswoman from the New York bakery. “Even if the word is similar, if it causes confusion, it’s not allowed. For example, you can’t spell ‘Coca-Cola‘ with a K.”

While there is nothing stopping someone from selling a croissant-doughnut hybrid, the spokeswoman said all bakeries that do infringe on copyright will receive legal notice, starting with a cease-and-desist letter.

“But with a lot of these places, I don’t think it’s problem,” she said. “I think many of them are just unaware that it’s trademarked.”

And according to Sakiyama, that’s exactly what happened. He said they’ll be changing the name to something more generic like, “Croissant-Doughnut.”

“Now it’s so popular it shouldn’t be a problem,” he said. “Most people will likely know what it is already.”

dfenton@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/drakefenton
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
 
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