September 25, 2013

From Cronuts to Kogi tacos, fanatic foodies crave new, hip treats

Social media help to turn offbeat concoctions like a croissant-doughnut into the trending treat du jour.

By MICHELE KAYAL The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Dominique Ansel
click image to enlarge

Chef Dominique Ansel makes Cronuts, a croissant-donut hybrid, at the Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York. The pastry chef introduced it in May, and bakeries in London, Toronto, Seoul and elsewhere have copied it.

The Associated Press

Parsons should know. Los Angeles may in fact have created the whole trend of social media-tracked food trucks, starting with the Kogi truck -- a peripatetic Korean taco vendor that would show up at a different venue each day, tweeting his whereabouts to the uber hip.

"Six months before he opened if someone had said, 'People are going to hook up on Facebook and Twitter and we're going to have 250 people lined up in vacant lots to eat tacos,' you would have said they were nuts," Parsons says. "There was a communal notion to it. If you were there, you were in the know, you were part of the in group."

But food trends trickle down even to those who are not hip. Mass-market mash-ups include Taco Bell's Doritos Locos (a taco with a shell made from Doritos), Kentucky Fried Chicken's Double Down (two fried chicken patties cradling bacon and cheese) and Wendy's pretzel bacon cheeseburger (a pretzel bun). McDonald's McRib -- a pork sandwich that mysteriously disappears and reappears from the chain's menu -- was an early exercise in mass-market scarcity.

And while the Cronut, with its trademarked name and French origins may seem like an elitist food trend, many industry observers regard it as an exercise in democracy, a food that finally brings elevated tastes to the masses.

"Not everyone can participate in higher-end tasting menus," says Arthur Bovino, executive editor of website The Daily Meal. "But you can afford to get on line for a doughnut or burger or fried chicken. ... You're then this everyman, you can be an expert in a category of exclusive conversation that's being had on late-night television."

Maybe. But in some parts of the country, people find it just plain silly.

"It better literally be filled with crack if I'm going to stand in line for four hours at 6 a.m.," says Scott Gold, a New Orleans-based food writer who says the only thing people in his city wait for is a special crawfish beignet that happens only once a year at Jazz Fest. And even then, you're only waiting 10 minutes. "Recently I had to get up at 4:45 to get on an airplane. That was to participate in the magic of flight. But for a pastry?"

The big question now, of course, is what comes next. Ominous reports suggest that the Cronut may be losing its mystique. A post in Eater's New York edition said that at 10 a.m. on a recent day Cronuts were still available and were cheerily being packed up for patrons who got served faster than a New York minute.

 

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