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Cronut craze consumes New York: Just two per customer! And no cutting!

New Yorkers are lining up in Soho for hours to get their (limited) share of Cronuts, the sweet invention of a celebrated pastry chef, Dominique Ansel, that is already inspiring imitations.

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Kidded about the incident on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Ms. Roberts said, innocently, that she just didn’t know where the line started. Fallon then presented her with a covered silver mini tray, which contained one of the rare flaky treats.  

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Thursday morning, Greg Harris, a customer service representative from San Diego, had been waiting in line since about quarter to 8 – much later than the 120 or so in front of him, and he still had a ways to go. He arrived in New York at 10 p.m. from San Diego on Wednesday, and by the time he got to his sister’s apartment in Brooklyn, it was nearly midnight. Still, he and his sister hopped on the subway around 7 to make the trip into the city.

“I wouldn’t call myself a ‘foodie,’ but I’m interested in food,” says Mr. Harris. “My friend told me she read about it, and she knows me, so I’ve been interested in it ever since I heard about it – so I thought this should be the first thing I do in New York.” His New Yorker sister rolled her eyes, however, giving a good-natured sneer.

For now, there are three ways to score a Cronut. You can stand in line for a couple of hours, but the bakery only allows two per person. You can also try to pre-order a six-pack by phone every other Monday for pick up some time in the following two weeks. But good luck with that – two-week blocks of pre-orders sell out in an hour or so. If you want a batch of 50 or more, you have to order at least a month in advance via e-mail.

The Cronut took off literally overnight. The day before its May 10 debut, there were more than 100,000 links to a small article in Grubstreet, a food blog for New York Magazine. There were lines of 20 the first two days, and in two weeks this escalated to more than 100, according to the bakery’s spokeswoman. Currently, about 250 people wait for as many as 3-1/2 hours for one of the 400 fresh Cronuts they bake every morning. They are usually sold out by 10 a.m.

And if you don’t want to stand in line, and you have money to bake, there’s a growing Cronut black market taking shape, with scalpers on Craigslist charging as much as $55 a pop.

But Chef Ansel cautions that his Cronuts must be eaten immediately, since they have a very short shelf life. They should never be refrigerated, since this will cause them to go stale and soggy. And they shouldn’t be reheated, either, since this would ruin the delicate ganache filling.

Michael Lee, a teacher’s assistant in Brooklyn, came up with two friends from Brooklyn, getting in line at 6 a.m. – two hours before the bakery opens. He says he came because a friend suggested a Cronut excursion as a way to spend time together – their busy city-that-never-sleeps lifestyles give them precious little time to get together otherwise.

Now it’s almost 9, and they’re finally about to enter the bakery.

“I’ve had one before – I mean, it’s not the sort of thing where you can just walk in and enjoy it,” Mr. Lee says. “It’s sort of this whole effort – you sort of set your expectations high. But it’s not mind-blowing.”

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