May 1, 2024 - News

How Whole Foods reverse-engineered a "crookie"

A person holding a cookie-croissant combo in a wrapping.

A cookie is fused with a croissant — and then bundled into wrapping. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

The backstory behind the creation of a single Whole Foods product — an on-trend cookie-croissant mashup known as a crookie — shows how supermarkets are hungry to find specialty products to draw in choosy consumers.

Why it matters: The reverse-engineering of the crookie is a test case for whether the supermarket behemoth can nimbly glom onto a trendy food item as it seeks new ways to satisfy its customers.

  • The Whole Foods version is a brown butter cookie fused to a croissant and appears as if a giant UFO landed on a crescent moon.
  • It's decadent, best consumed, in our opinion, with the aid of other people.

Behind the scenes: Earlier this year, after videos of cookie-croissant concoctions went viral, Whole Foods' national test network of test kitchens — including one in East Austin — set to work aiming to re-create them.

What they're saying: "I work with croissants, I work with cookies, so I thought, 'OK, I'll try it,'" Erica Skolnik, Whole Foods' senior culinary program manager, tells Axios.

The challenge: How to marry dense raw cookie dough, both atop and inside the croissant, with delicate pastry.

  • It had to be something local Whole Foods bakeries could fit in their ovens to bake fresh daily — yet also have some shelf stability.
  • Also, Skolnik, who is based in Maryland, was not working off any recipe, so she had to tweak oven temperatures to make sure the top of the cookie wouldn't burn while also giving a full bake to the cookie-stuffed croissant.

The bottom line: Within eight days of beginning tests, the crookie on March 15 made it to Whole Foods' shelves and has been selling well since, per company officials.

  • Priced at $4 — more than the $2.75 muffins and scones shelved next to it — and each displayed in its own bag, the pastry is offered as a premium croissant for shoppers.
  • "We haven't really caught onto a trend in the past, and now we know we can do it," Skolnik tells Axios.

Fun fact: While the crookie is now for sale at more than 300 Whole Foods stores, from Hawaii to the Northeast, the flagship store at Sixth and Lamar has sold almost three times more than other top-selling spots.

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