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The croissant is a flaky breakfast food that is so culturally iconic and French that many defer to its native pronunciation (krwa-sohn).
Yet, in the 19th century, the French viewed the croissant as a foreign novelty that was only sold in special Viennese bakeries in Paris's wealthier parts.
The croissant was inspired by the Austrian kipfel - a crescent-shaped baked good featuring a generous amount of butter or lard.
The croissant started as the Austrian kipfel but became French when people began to make it with puffed pastry. There is no reference to the croissant in France before about the 1850s.
An Austrian entrepreneur named August Zang opened the first Viennese bakery in Paris in 1838. Zang's ability for marketing had Parisians flocking to his establishment to sample his Vienna bread, kaiser rolls, and kipfel. By 1840, there were at least a dozen makers of Viennese bread.
The croissant took the fast-food industry by storm in the late 1900s, as manufacturers introduced pre-made frozen dough and takeaway "croissanteries" that popped up throughout France.
The frozen croissant was introduced to America in 1981, which soon outpaced the pound cakes in sales. The croissant morphed into Cronuts (doughnuts made with croissant dough). The most recent incarnation is the Baissant, or bagel croissant.
Michel Lyczak was the 2014 winner of the "best butter croissant" award.
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