In the United States, National Croissant Day is observed each year on January 30th. Croissants are a buttery, crescent-shaped rolls that are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
- Legend surrounds this pastry, as is often the case with a popular, worldly treat. What is known, is that crescent-shaped breads have been found around the world for ages. One of these was the Kipferl which originated in Austria as far back as the 13th century. This nonlaminated bread is more like a roll.
- Credit for the croissant we know today is given to an Austrian military officer, August Zang. In 1939 he opened a Viennese bakery in Paris introducing France to Viennese baking techniques.
- The legend of how the croissant came to be is that in 1683, the Turkish Empire laid siege on Vienna, Austria. The Turks made several attempts to conquer the city by force, but were unsuccessful, so decided to try underground tunnels. The bakers of Vienna, who worked in the basement storerooms, heard the sound of digging and alerted the cities army.
- For their vigilance, the bakers received high honors and thanks for their assistance in outwitting the Turks. In celebration, they baked their bread in the shape of a crescent moon—the symbol of the Ottoman Empire. After the Turks were defeated, it became custom to serve morning coffee with the crescent-shaped pastry!
- The legend continues to say that over a hundred years later, Marie Antoinette introduced the pastry to the French who dubbed it a “croissant”.
- Each croissant rolls are made of 50 or more thin layers of pastry & butter.
- According to legend, it was Marie Antoinette (Austrian Princess who married Louis XVI), introduced the croissant to France.
- The French newspaper Le Figaro named the croissant from bakery Pierre Hermé the best in Paris in 2013. It also won in 2006.
- Since Starbucks bought French baker Pascal Rigo’s San Francisco-based La Boulange, the chocolate croissant has become the coffee chain’s bestselling pastry.
- In 2013, chef Dominque Ansel came up with the cronut — a deep-fried croissant/doughnut combination that became all the rage at his New York bakery.
- The Croissant became the French national product in 1920.
- The Croissant started as a luxury product, but by the end of the nineteenth century, it was middle-class (the rich preferred a good brioche).
- Before the modern croissant, puff pastry was used as a garnish or shell, not to eat on its own.
- The chocolate croissant is actually called pain au chocolat, as it is not in the shape of a crescent.
- 32 million baguettes are eaten daily in France.
- There are more than 35,000 bakeries in France — one bakery per 1,800 people.