SOUTH PORTLAND — The pastry that must not be named is selling out at Little Bigs. Maybe it’s the 300 layers of butter mixed with sugar and dough. Or, maybe it’s the intrigue.
“It’s a phenomenon,” said Little Bigs co-owner James Plunkett, speaking carefully to avoid saying the forbidden word. “It’s the Beatles of the doughnut world, and we’re Ed Sullivan.”
The tiny bakery has been in business for only about seven months but now has a dedicated customer base. Business has been brisk since a flap began over the naming of the pastry.
The Portland Press Herald published a story in February about the shop frying up a cross between a croissant and a doughnut that had become a craze in New York.
Plunkett and his wife and co-owner, Pamela Fitzpatrick Plunkett, have since been featured in newspapers across the country, on several New England television stations and on National Public Radio. Reporters flocked to the bakery to find out about the new item.
What do the Plunketts call the sugary concoction?
Not “Cronut,” the name that New York chef Dominique Ansel trademarked for his invention last year. The Plunketts called it a “Crauxnut,” but a New York law office representing Ansel sent them a “cease and desist” letter this month saying “Crauxnut” too closely resembled “Cronut” and could not be used.
So they decided to host a renaming contest. The winner was “C&D,” for cease and desist – and croissant and doughnut.
The Plunketts moved constantly in the bakery on Friday afternoon – rolling dough, putting raspberries on pastries and spooning custard, all while talking to the media.
They make a maximum of 138 “C&D” pastries per week, selling them only on Sundays. They’re mostly sold out, with pre-orders through Easter.
“If I made them daily, that’s all I would be making,” said Fitzpatrick Plunkett.
Orders for the pastries are neatly handwritten on index cards and posted, nearly covering the surfaces of three refrigerators.
Customers joke about the flap, calling the pastry “formerly known as,” “that which cannot be named” or other phrases to avoid saying “Cronut.”
Whatever they’re called, people are eating them.
One customer was so eager to try one Friday that he ate a free stale one, warmed up.
Penny Dennison of Yarmouth placed an order, weeks in advance. Her taste buds will have to wait.
“I had heard about this thing on TV, and I thought, ‘They can’t be making them in Maine.’ Lo and behold, I heard that they were, and so I made it my goal to try one,” Dennison said.
Fitzpatrick Plunkett said they heard about the new pastry item and, on a lark, decided to start making it, not realizing what was to come.
The couple moved here last year from Chicago, wanting to start a new life in Maine and hoping that their business would take hold. They’ve doubled their business in the last few months, partly because of the hard-to-name confection.
“It was just a fluke that’s blossomed into this monster,” said Fitzpatrick Plunkett.
Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at: