There's a famous study that suggests that the ability to delay gratification is among the most important determinants in whether a person will have a successful life. A Stanford professor gave hundreds of kindergarteners the option of one marshmallow now or two marshmallows in 15 minutes, recorded their choices, and tracked the kids over the next several decades. The wily little bastards who had the wherewithal to wait out that second marshmallow grew up to be more successful than their impatient peers in just about every aspect of life: higher educational achievement; lower rates of incarceration, obesity, and drug abuse; and, one must presume, a reduced likelihood to ever wait in line for a goddamned donut.
This last one seems counterintuitive on the surface—if patience is a good predictor of success with marshmallows, why is it the opposite with donuts?—until you remember that it makes perfect sense for little kids to wait around a bit for an extra marshmallow, because their time isn't worth shit. There's no opportunity cost for a 5-year-old to cool his jets until another marshmallow shows up; that's rational patience that bodes well for his future. But who are these full-grown monsters with the time to wait in line for one of Dominique Ansel Bakery's famed Cronuts?
A quick summary, for those of you cool enough to have no idea what I'm talking about: In May of 2013, a bakery in SoHo unveiled a donut-croissant hybrid that quickly became the newest darling of whichever mysterious sect adjudicates matters of pastry fame. Daily Cronut demand far exceeds supply, so every morning there's a line outside the bakery. I don't doubt that the Cronut offers an exceptional breakfast experience, but waiting in line first thing in the morning for anything that isn't a new kind of meat or a new iteration of the iPhone is objectively nuts.
Eh, maybe not. To each his own, I guess. But it's at least a very eccentric way to spend your morning, and it also demonstrates a peculiar paradox about the Manhattan mindset: For all the hustle and bustle and bitching about slow-walking tourists who have the gall to use umbrellas, those motherfuckers love to wait in lines. Maybe it's a status symbol. Are they demonstrating that they have an excess of time, one of modern life's most precious commodities? Am I supposed to react the same way I do when I see someone walking a mid-sized dog in Manhattan, i.e., "Holy shit, how do you afford an apartment that can accommodate a dog too big to live in the microwave?"
Or maybe they've just heard so damn much about the Cronut that they need to scratch the itch once and for all; it's reasonable to do something just to cross it off the list. That's why the world has things like threesomes and $5,000 Super Bowl tickets and the rest of life's troublesome indulgences that, sure, are pretty cool, but might not be worth the hassle if you couldn't brag—at least to yourself—about them. So, all right, people who stand around waiting for a crack at the original, trademarked Cronut get a partial pass: They're quite likely bonkers, but I can't say for certain.
But who in anything approximating his right mind would go to Dunkin' Donuts four fucking days in a row in search of their heavily promoted new Croissant Donut? A fast-food blogger who tends not to get out of the house in the beastly morning hours and thus arrived after the last fake-Cronut had been served the first three times, that's who. I'll let the reader come to her own conclusion as to whether this daily shortage is artificially generated to mimic the original Cronut, which Dunkin' swears they are not ripping off from Dominique Ansel, which is curious, given that they are blatantly ripping it off from Dominique Ansel.
For whatever reason, I had to exert rather more energy than I cared to in order to get my grimy paws on a Croissant Donut, which I feared might bias my review, but good news: This thing sucks enough to overpower any predisposition one might bring to the counter. Think you'll love the Croissant Donut? You'll hate it. Think you'll hate the Croissant Donut? You'll hate it. Think Congress needs to get off its ass and work toward meaningful immigration reform? You'll hate the Croissant Donut.
It's just a goddamned glazed donut that happens to be gratuitously six-sided, like a diabetic hexagram intentionally designed to lure in not only low-rent trend-chasers, but also innocent table-gamers and orbaphobes. Oh, all right, I guess it's marginally less dense than a standard glazed Dunkin' donut. But not by much! This baby seemed pretty damn donut-y to me, and when I clawed through the icing to see what the innards were made of, the few scattered air pockets in the cake didn't scream "delicately layered croissant" so much as "ha ha, sucker, you got shorted a couple square centimeters of donut."
Now let us here pause this diatribe to acknowledge that glazed donuts are fine. They do not suck, and no one hates them. So why all the sucking and hating now? Because these basically-just-goddamned-glazed-donuts cost $2.49 each (compared to the $.99 charge for a normal, honest Dunkin' Donut). And they come individually gift-boxed. And they are clearly trying to cash in on another bakery's claim to fame. And, at least at the Dunkin' franchises near my home, where people line up only to get coffee or secure a warm place to wait inside for the bus, they seem to intentionally manufacture a daily shortage in an effort to drum up the kind of cache enjoyed by their forebears in disingenuous scarcity, such as the McRib and various seasonally available nogs and lattes.
The Dunkin' Croissant Donut is not rare enough to be coveted simply for its exclusivity; instead, it's just rare enough to be a pain in the ass. It's not good enough to be worth 2.5 times the price of a less ambitious donut; it's just good enough to avoid the ridicule usually reserved for foods that objectively suck. Well, I judge foods within their rightful context. My subjective donut-grading criteria is based on a sliding scale that considers convenience, cost, and purity of intent, and the Croissant Donut is worthless by each of those measures.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and has visited all of the other New England states, including, come to think of it, Vermont. Find him on Twitter@WillGordonAgain.
Image by Sam Woolley.
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