If imitation is the truest form of flattery, French-born New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel should have a very big head right about now.
His cronuts, an impressive culinary hybrid of a croissant and a donut, have not only become the object of foodie desire in New York, where people line up for hours outside his eponymous bakery for a taste of the buttery delicacy (or just buy them off the black market), they are an international phenomenon. The cronut has spawned knockoffs in cities from Washington (the "doissant") to Los Angeles (the "cronot") to Melbourne ("dossants").
Ansel, who trademarked "cronut," is not impressed:
Hey there copycats, if we're ever in a room together, I will be able to look you in the eye. Will you be able to do the same?
— Dominique Ansel (@DominiqueAnsel) June 6, 2013
But why try to reinvent the (flaky, delicious, deep-fried) wheel? It was Ansel's idea, and he apparently got it right. "Since we can't get our hands on a Cronut here at D Magazine headquarters," says Carol Shih at the Dallas lifestyle publication, "Nancy [Nichols] and I have twiddled our thumbs and dreamed up a list of the next best hybrid foods." The editors of Bon Appétit are on the same page.
So, while you are waiting for a cronut knockoff to hit your town (or are waiting in line for the real deal), here are some ideas for the next big food mashup — and some of them make the cronut look downright bourgeois:
This pulled pork–pickle combination was dreamed up in Bon Appétit's (fictional) "DARPA-esque food laboratory," says Jason Kessler. This is pretty much what it sounds like, he says: "A giant dill pickle is hollowed out and filled with pulled pork." But the beauty of this portable, tangy delight is that it solves the barbecue season's "age-old problem: How do you hold a beer and a plate while also trying to eat a sandwich standing up?"
It's possible that "someone, somewhere out there has... already invented a warm pretzel stuffed with ooey gooey brie inside," says D Magazine's Shih. But "certainly no one has called it a 'brietzel' yet." Shih says she's willing to forgo the copyright on this one — on behalf of the magazine's administrative assistant, who came up with the idea — if Costco starts selling brietzels. "I know you want to add this to your food court menu and sell it for $1.50. You'd make everyone really happy if you did..."
Not to be confused with "bronies" — adult male fans of My Little Pony — brones are Kessler's contribution to the world of ice cream cone innovation: "Cones that are actually made out of brownie batter."
Just roll out your batter extra thin, bake, and shape. Voila! You've got a brone. You're welcome. [Bon Appétit]
The combination of ketchup and the spicy Thai-inspired pepper puree Sriracha may not be anything earth-shattering, admits D's Shih, "but no one's ever given this saucemenon a catchy name." Thus, Ketcharacha. "I'm trademarking this one. Don't you dare try to steal it from me," says Shih. And it will be a piece of cake to market. "Just replace the word 'cucaracha' in the cockroach song with 'ketcharacha,' and you have yourself a merry little commercial jingle."
5. Craquin Jack
The old ballpark stalwart Cracker Jack may seem timeless, but the tasty combination of peanuts, popcorn, and caramel sets off a lot of allergen alarm bells. Well, if Cracker Jack conquered America, "Craquin Jack is poised to do the same thing, but in a healthier way," says Kessler at Bon Appétit. We're talking about quinoa clusters coated in sweet, sweet molasses. "There's even a prize in the box," Kessler says. "Unfortunately, it's just a doll-size poster of the USDA Food Pyramid."
6. Tini Weenie
This is less a hybrid than a dressed-up Gibson — except instead of a pearl onion in your martini there's a cocktail weiner. But "think about it," says D Magazine's Shih: "If every martini you ever ordered came with a mini hot dog on top, wouldn't you be ecstatic?"
It's like a whole meal, minus the veggies. Try saying "tini weenie" without giggling. It's really hard. I'm having trouble enough just typing it! [D]
7. Cron Dogs
That's not a typo. It's genius. "Prepare for your minds to be blown, because this is a hybrid of a hybrid," says Bon Appétit's Kessler. And it would be the toast of any classy county fair — or possibly even a French soccer match. You take cronut dough, wrap it around a hot dog, impale the glorified pig-in-a-blanket with a stick, and stick it in the deep-fryer. Voila! "A cronut wrapped around a hot dog. It's a cron dog and now that you know about it, the world will never be the same."