From Cronuts to Duffins: the Fascination with Hybrids

October 29th, 2013

Our fascination with hybrid food soared to a whole new level on May 10, 2013 – the fateful day that the Cronut™ launched on New York’s bakery scene. Created and trademarked by Chef Dominique Ansel, the Cronut combines everything you love about a croissant and a doughnut into one indulgent hybrid pastry.

Those wanting to get their hands on a Cronut, line up outside the NYC bakery as early as 5:30am – two and a half hours before the bakery opens! Even with a two-per-person limit, the Cronuts sell out daily. This summer, you couldn’t read a trend newsletter or scan a foodie blog without coming across Cronuts. They were even featured on TV sitcoms!

On the heels of the Cronut craze, Starbucks UK launched the Duffin in early October. The muffin-doughnut hybrid looks like a sugar-coated muffin but hides within it a doughnut core with a raspberry jam filling.

While it seems like the Cronut started the hybrid hype, if you go back in time through food history, there were some innovative hybrids that predate the Cronut. Way back in 1957, we had the birth of the cupcake cone. In 2004, there was the crêpe cake. And 2008 saw the cake pop launch. But none of these flavor innovations received the same red carpet treatment that was rolled out for the Cronut. Why is that?

Chef Ansel combined two beloved indulgent pastries and made them innovative yet comfortable, craveable, buzz-worthy, truly delicious and hard-to-get all at the same time. In today’s social media-driven chatter, the “whisper down the lane” effect is achieved in the blink of an eye. The Cronut is innovative because it takes two related items and merges them into one. The fact that both of those items are individually known and adored, makes their combined flavor innovation irresistible. Let’s add to that the limited availability and resulting bragging rights that come with getting to consume the treat. And as if we needed more, only one flavor of Cronut is sold every month, giving those who’ve had it reason to come back for more and potentially adding a new layer of appeal to those who have yet to sink their teeth into the flaky, sweet Cronut goodness.

The launch and popularity of the Cronut seems to have tapped into a current consumer desire for hybrid activity in the food and beverage world. While not every newcomer will be lucky enough to experience the success of the Cronut, we can confidently assume there are a whole lot of hybrids around the corner who are going to try!

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