Cronut Mania

Don’t call it a Cronut. The hit hybrid pastry that debuted last year in a New York bakery has inspired a spate of knockoffs at national restaurant chains.

This week, Dunkin’ Donuts unveiled the Croissant Donut, a flaky croissant ring that features the chain’s signature donut glaze. The product has 24 layers of buttery dough and a crispy exterior with a soft interior, according to the company.

At Sonic Drive-In, customers may now order croissant donut holes served with crème brulee dipping sauce.

And Red Robin Gourmet Burgers has added Towering Doh! Rings, which features a stack of croissant donuts served with hot fudge and berry dipping sauces. As described during a recent earnings call by Denny Post, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer at Red Robin, the dessert “taste(s) curiously similar to, but for our lawyers, cannot be called a Cronut.”

During the summer, Jack in the Box offered its version of the pastry mashup, made with buttery croissant dough rolled into cinnamon sugar.

The trend may come at little surprise, given the Cronut’s rise to foodie fame, with two-hour waits for the eponymous bakery chef Dominique Ansel’s creation. Hybrid innovation has been identified as a top food trend this year, supported by such examples as the Waffle Taco and Quesarito at Taco Bell and the Soft Pretzel Crust Pepperoni Pizza at Little Caesars. Nancy Kruse, president of The Kruse Co., Atlanta, spoke about hybrids during a presentation at Technomic’s Restaurants Trends & Directions Conference, held June 18 in Chicago.

“They are really meant to generate buzz, drive some P.R., certainly to create traffic, and also to a certain extent, to give the consumer some bragging rights in terms of being the first one on the block to try it,” she said.