SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Foodies need not panic: the pastry responsible for lines out the door at Little Bigs bakery is not dead, it’s just had yet another identity crisis.
Owners James and Pamela Plunkett received a formal letter March 8 ordering them to cease and desist from calling their creations “crauxnuts,” their take on the foodie fad “Cronuts,” a doughnut-croissant hybrid made famous by New York City baker Dominic Ansel.
Much like its New York cousin, the sugary, fried crauxnut at 340 Main St. became a hot commodity: reservations are required, and the wait list is full until Easter.
When they started baking them in January, the Plunketts called their croissant-doughnuts Cronuts, until Ansel trademarked the name. So they changed it slightly. But, according to the recent letter from Ansel’s attorney, simply changing the spelling was not enough.
If the Plunketts wanted to keep selling their tempting treat, they would have to get more creative.
So they turned to Little Bigs’ nearly 1,400 Facebook fans for inspiration. As a result of one commenter’s suggestion, the “crauxnut” is now the ”C&D” – short for, that’s right, “cease and desist.”
Hopefully, fans of Little Bigs can breath a final sigh of relief that the fried treat is here to stay.
The Plunketts, chefs originally from Chicago, opened Little Bigs last August. They specialize in savory hand pies and assorted baked goods and, according to Plunkett, only started selling the croissant-doughnuts as an experiment.
“We’re new to Maine, and we assumed we were going to be slow in the winter,” she said. “We thought it would increase business on a Sunday, so we did a few tests and put out a couple dozen.”
Those dozen sold out, and so did the next two dozen in just an hour the following Sunday. And there were still lines out the door. From there, Plunketts decided on a more organized system of ordering and reserving the treats via telephone, Facebook message, or in person.
“We thought it’d be a fad that’d blow over pretty quickly, but it’s only built and made repeat business for us,” Plunkett said.
The process of creating the dough for a batch of C&Ds takes 3 ½ hours, and due to fermentation time, Plunkett can only fry the dough fast enough to make 120 per batch. For that reason, C&Ds are only available Sundays starting at 11 a.m. They cost $3 each.
Though the legal process for the Plunketts has seemed perhaps as never-ending as their C&D waiting list, they hope their trademark troubles are over.
“This has been a lesson in persistence and tenacity,” James Plunkett said.