High demand for ‘Cronuts’ creates black market for latest food craze

It’s simple economics: when something is banned or it costs way too much money then the entrepreneurial spirit or those who understand the market tend to create an underground economy with the item in question.

The latest black market good is not cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or a bootleg copy of some Hollywood blockbuster. No, it’s the Cronut, a delicious, fried, cream-filled croissant-doughnut hybrid that has developed a tremendous demand in New York City, where fans line up for as long as 90 minutes.

Dominique Ansel, who produced the newest craze in his bakery on the isle of Manhattan, charges $5 for the delights, but can sell for as high as $40 through scalping services. The Cronut is so popular that the bakery has applied a two-per-customer limit and only around 300 are available each day, which means the cronuts sell out within minutes when the shop opens its doors at eight in the morning – fans wait two hours before opening.

In total, he has made 5,000 cronuts since launching the latest food sensation in May.

The store’s popularity is so large that it had to hire additional staff members.

According to Grub Street, not even celebrities receive special privileges. It was reported that CNN host Anderson Cooper attempted to make an order for his birthday, but was denied because of the high demand from the general public. Ditto for Hugh Jackman, who tried to wait in line for the pastry item – it is unclear if the actor was able to land a cronut (a lot of people tend to share one half of their cronut).

Just like any other hard-to-find good, people can go through the black market to get their cronut fix. Operators within the underground economy charge a 700 percent premium for the cronut, but only deliver five out of the six cronuts because the delivery person can get the sixth as a surcharge.

Despite Ansel making the decision to trademark the cronut “as a protective measure against the type of bullying that is taking place now,” other local bakeries are trying to cash in on the success of the pastry. These establishments are selling their own versions of the cronut but under various pseudonyms, such as Co-Dro and doussant. Others, meanwhile, are baking up other types of baked goods, like the Cro-Clair.

“People call us and say do you have a Cronut, and instead of getting into semantics about language, we say yes we have our version of it,” said Jim Hausman, owner of the Swiss Haus Bakery in Philadelphia, who began to make his own version of the cronut a week ago, in an interview with CNN. “The only thing that I’m aware that is similar is that it’s fried croissant dough in the shape of a doughnut. Otherwise, it’s our own.”

Hausman also charges $5 for each order and limits purchases to two per customer. However, it is unknown if there is a black market for Hausman’s variation of the famous cronut.

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