Hello, 'Waffogato': Has the Cronut-Creator Gone Too Far for PR?
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The mashup, inspired by the Italian "affogato" -- a scoop of ice cream topped with a shot of espresso --was created for the "Taste of the Nation" benefit for hunger relief organizations. However, the hungry masses can get a taste of the treat in Ansel's bakery starting on May 9.
While the Waffogato is clearly created for a good cause, its role as the latest in a long line of Ansel's mashups leaves a sour taste in one's mouth. When Ansel created the Cronut, its buzz and the accompanying mega-lines helped kick off a mashup food trend. From the surprisingly high-brow Ramen Burger to the fast-food Waffle Taco, everyone wants a slice of the mashup pie – including Ansel.
When the Cronut premiered, Ansel was careful to emphasize that he was, first and foremost, a pastry chef who offered more than just the hyped treat. However, as he has gained more fame, public relations has begun to play a bigger role in the life of the pastry wizard. The cookie shot's SWSX debut – while inventive and reportedly tasty – was masterminded by PR firm Allison+Partners. Ansel has since showcased Cronuts at a one day pop-up in LA and handed out free treats around NYC to celebrate the unveiling of his cookbook's cover.
New mashups feel like Ansel is playing the Grub Street-created Dominque Ansel Pastry-Phenom-o-Matic: American favorite plus French Twist plus secret weapon. The Phenom-o-Matic spits out options such as snickerdoodle tarts with vanilla air and pumpkin pie éclairs with pineapple toffee, but an ice-cream waffle with espresso and maple flavor doesn't seem too far off.
Ansel is much more than a foodie mashup wizard, receiving widespread recognition in the food industry long before the Cronut-craze swept New York and knock-offs spread to the rest of the country. However, if he continues to churn out pastry mashups, he risks becoming a one-trick pony – and losing credibility as a pastry chef.