Crossushi was destined to become the first big food trend of 2018. The flaky croissants stuffed with a sushi roll had it all: A catchy name, a mash-up of techniques and flavors like the Cronut, and the food-within-a-food surprise that made it Instagram bait. The news of this creation by California-based Mr. Holmes Bakehouse crossed oceans, getting attention by the Italian, Dutch and French press, and even the BBC. Crossushi was so hyped that it even sparked a near-immediate backlash: It was “Everything nobody in their right mind ever asked for,” according to Dlisted, a “monstrosity that I’m giving a hard pass,” according to Punkee. “I’m sorry, I love croissants and I love sushi, but this is cat food,” wrote Jezebel.
There was only one problem. None of them had ever tried it. Because there was no crossushi on a menu, anywhere.
Mr. Holmes Bakehouse used to offer an item called the “California Croissant.” It did not contain any sushi, but it had some Asian flavors: smoked (not raw) salmon, and nori, served with soy sauce. It fit in with the bakery’s innovative menu: It’s known for its “cruffin” (croissant-muffin), as well as other experimental treats, such as a lemon meringue pie croissant and a pastrami-manchego-pickled orange creation that the bakery dubbed the “Just try it” croissant. Anyway, the California Croissant was served on and off beginning in 2014, but co-founder Aaron Caddel discontinued it early last year. He never called it crossushi.
Around November, he noticed that some food bloggers began to write about it under that name. He’s not where the name came from, but he’s not fond of it: “It’s not sushi. They’re misrepresenting what it is,” he said. He isn’t sure who was the first to write about it.
“We saw an article come up and thought, ‘This is funny. This hasn’t been on the menu in forever. Maybe someone has this backlog of articles,'” he said. The California Croissant wasn’t even in any photos on the bakery’s website, but the stories mostly used an Instagram taken in 2015. “Two days later, we see it pop up again. Before you knew it, it was a national news story.”
Mashable made a video about it. The Daily Meal quoted Mr. Holmes co-founder Aron Tzimas as saying the pastry “sells out super fast” — except he said that in an Instagram comment in 2014, and he’s no longer with the company. Hello Giggles told its readers to go to San Francisco to try it. Elite Daily rounded up reactions on Twitter. Good Housekeeping chimed in. MTV used a bunch of profanity about it. It became a Twitter Moment.
But no one, until this publication, ever called the bakery to verify that it was even being sold, said Caddel. Only one crossushi story, from PopSugar, has been updated with a line that it’s no longer available (the writer, who tried one in 2015, originally directed readers to all four of Mr. Holmes’ locations). The belated publicity has caused a lot of problems at Mr. Holmes, because customers come in all the time expecting to get it — and then Caddel’s staff has to break their hearts.
“Whenever a story goes national … right after that is an influx of lots more people,” said Caddel. “In San Francisco, we have a line out the door waiting to buy pastries seven days a week.” Whenever crossushi appears in an article, “That line goes from being 45 minutes long to an hour and a half.”
Most of the time, customers aren’t too mad about the crossushi — er, California Croissant — being unavailable. They’ll just buy something different. And even though the pastry has gotten this much attention, Caddel says he has no plans to bring it back.
“We’ve at times even discussed pulling off the cruffin — it’s an item that put us on the map, it’s been ripped [off] in every major city,” said Caddel. “Ultimately, we get bored of items as well. It cheapens what we do if we get thrown into the category of a fad.”
Caddel considered reaching out to publications to correct the record, but decided it would be “too passive-aggressive.” He thinks the sudden publicity for his pastry speaks to a problem in certain types of food media: “You guys just need to be generating content like crazy. … People just want to see cheese fries and a burger dripping, and it’s going to get a ton of views, ” he said. But in this case, “There’s an article that got attention that was done really lazily.” Each story cited a previous story, like a photocopy of a photocopy, or a game of “Telephone.”
He’s not that mad, though. It brings people through the door. It’s been a funny joke for his staff since November.
“I’m super excited that an item that’s not on the menu is getting so much attention,” said Caddel.
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