Intellectual Property

How Copycat Cronuts Keep Chefs Sharp

Ripoffs and remixes in the food industry drive talented creators to new heights.


You can watch a video of celebrity dessert chef Dominique Ansel's newest creation, a wild strawberry pavlova, today at It looks ridiculous and awesome (ridiculawsome?).

But why should Ansel go to all the trouble of flying $70/lb wild strawberries in from Spain and fussing around with egg whites? After all, Ansel became a household name (well, in certain households anyway) in 2013 when he invented the cronut, a sphinx of a dessert that combines the glories of a croissant and a donut into a single pastry. New Yorkers (still!) line up around the block to get one of the limited edition treats each morning.

So why isn't this guy just chilling out and swimming around in his piles of cronut cash?

For starters, the U.S. Copyright Office does not recognize recipes as copyrightable. As The Washington Post reminds us today, you can trademark your brand name—no one else can call their ring of deep-fried croissant dough a Cronut—but that won't stop Dunkin Donuts started selling the Croissant Donut as soon as they can, even as others hustle out Doissants and Cruffins.

In fact, Ansel has published his recipe. There's no protectable trade secret, so anyone with a deep fryer and a death wish can try to make their very own authentic cronut.

But even as as folks queue up around Ansel's shop, still interested enough to pay a premium in time and money for the original brand's cache, Ansel is on to the next thing. He has to be in an industry where copying is a fact of life, and we're all better off for it.

As co-author of The Knockoff Economy Kal Raustiala told Reason TV: "Intellectual property law is not as important as we might think to innovation." He cites fashion, food, and football as industries that are constantly being driven to new heights by the fast pace of copying and remixing set by the lack of intellectual property.

(Of course, many industries with intense copyright protections are also hotbeds of innovation. The food and fashion industries merely suggest that treating intellectual property like real property not a necessary condition for entrepreneurship and new ideas.) 

NEXT: Clinton-Sanders Spat Over Libya Reveals Fundamental Problems With Their Foreign Policy Postures

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  1. “but that won’t stop Dunkin Donuts started selling the Croissant Donut as soon as they can,”

    Am I wrong or is that a grammatical mess?

    1. You’re not wrong. That sentence is a grammatical abortion.

  2. I am not a pastry guy. Don’t make ’em, don’t eat ’em.

    However, I am a chicken liver guy. I am frying them tonight. In case anyone wants to rip off my recipe, here it is:

    Soak livers in tabasco then dust with granulated garlic and all purpose white flour. Mix by hand and add small amounts of flour until the livers are completely coated with a sticky, gooey paste.

    Place livers one at a time into a bowl of all purpose flour, cover with flour then press down. Gently turn liver and repeat until the entire liver has a dry coating of flour. Place in a frying basket. When the basket bottom is covered with livers drop into oil at 375F. After 30 seconds to one minute gently shake basket so the livers don’t stick to each other.

    If you want them crunchy on the outside but tender inside take them out at about 4 minutes. 5 if you like them more well done.

    Sit in front of a movie with your large bowl of fried livers, a bottle of tabasco, a bottle of ketchup, a large glass of ice water and lots of napkins. Try not to eat so much that you hurt yourself. Enjoy your movie.

    Simple, quick, and enormously satisfying.

    1. I am not a pastry guy. Don’t make ’em, don’t eat ’em.

      Good God.

      1. chicken liver pasta sauce

    2. Might have to try that, except replace the chicken livers with actual chicken meat.

    3. Tabasco is the worst, you want Loiusiana Hot Sauce. That’s what real Cajuns use.

  3. Doesn’t anyone do the old standbys anymore? Like A thousand hummingbird tongues or live thrushes baked inside a hog with dormice sauce?

  4. Cronuts? WTF is this culinary abomination?

  5. But even as as folks queue up around Ansel’s shop, still interested enough to pay a premium in time and money for the original brand’s cache

    n.g. “cache” is a storeplace for something.

    “cachet” is status or a distinguishing mark or equivalent, what you were looking for.

    1. (n.b., rather, but I can’t edit comments.)

      1. I really hate this comment system. You don’t get notified when some replies and no editing. It sucks.

        1. *someone


  6. I am eating one as we speak. It’s kind of nasty though as they thought it would be a good idea to give it some sort of sickly sweet gooey filling. But a regular one with cinnamon or powdered sugar on top is fucking awesome.

    1. they thought it would be a good idea to give it some sort of sickly sweet gooey filling

      These masturbation euphemisms…

      1. OK, this meme is getting old.

        It needs to die.

        The Cleveland Browns can be its pallbearers.

  7. Copycat Cronuts Keep Chefs Sharp Cooks Creative

    Fucking Amateurs.

  8. Once I saw the draft of 5210 bucks,,, I admit that my friend’s brother was like really generating cash in his free time with his COM. BG His aunt has done this for only 5 months and by now repaid the loan on their home and bought a new Car …B—–10


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