Pizza in a Cone: Crispycones
Editor's note: This is the second of two reports today about pizza in a cone. Here's the first: Pizza in a Cone: Kornet Pizza
Anytime you publish something about pizza cones on the web, Nir Adar will see it.
That's how I found myself in the prep kitchen of a food-photography studio in Chelsea this past Tuesday. Adar, the man behind pizza-in-a-cone venture Crispycones, has been following Slice since the first time I mentioned the food product on the site. With a Google alert set up to monitor "pizza cone" or variations thereof, he saw a recent post about the opening of Kornet Pizza in Overland Park, Kansas.
In that post and follow-up comments, I express my desire to try the cones several times, and Adar, picking up on this, extended an invitation to do just that.
Yeah, I know. It's rare that I accept invitations to try products, preferring to forge my own opinion away from the corrupting influence of marketeers, but as I've said, I've been wanting to try a pizza cone for about four years.
As it turns out, four years is almost the entire lifetime of the product. In fact, by coincidence I was visiting Adar and his business partner, Manny Kivowitz, on a rather auspicious day. To hear Adar tell it, it was five years ago on Tuesday (January 29) that pizza in a cone was conceived, when he dreamed it up watching New Yorkers shuffle along the sidewalks here, scarfing food on the street. The concept, he says, addresses the recent shift in how people consume food outside the home. With more people gorging on the go, Adar says he recognized a dearth of truly hand-held foods—foods that, by his definition, could be held and consumed entirely in one hand.
Enter the Pizza Cone
Were it only as simple as the subhead above. Adar wants you to know that all those pizza cones you may have seen on the webcropping up first in Italy, then traveling to the Mideast and Asiathose are not Crispycones.
According to Adar, he first brought the concept to Konopizza, the Italian company that would go on to bring the world the cones you've already seen. After showing the company the process, and on the verge of signing contracts, Adar said, the company told him it was no longer pursuing the ideaonly to release a similar conical product months later.
Adar seems to have taken it in stride, however. Unphased, he went back to the drawing board and worked on improving his original method. "I realized I didn't have the perfect product back then," he said. "Now I do."
The Crispycones Adar is making, he says, have a thinner wall than the first-generation cones and use a process that creates a moisture-protective barrier that keeps the dough from becoming soggy.
When I walked in, a warm cone, sans filling, was there to greet me, sitting in a little cardboard caddy. "Take a bite of just the cone itself," Adar said. "It just came out of the microwave, but notice how crisp it is."
Yes, a microwave. The Crispycone shells are produced by a baker in California, where they're parbaked. And though they're machine-produced, they have the look of the handmade about them. They are then frozen, to be finished off in a microwave at point of sale. Pizza fans familiar with microwave reheats know what the device does to crust, but amazingly, the Crispycone, true to its name, actually becomes crisp, or perhaps retains its crispness upon nuking.
My first question was, Yeah, but what crazy stuff do you have to put in the dough to achieve that? According to Adar, "It stays crisp without any of the weird stuff you wouldn't want to eat in it."
Taking him at his word, then, you'd have to admit that the cone is pretty damn ingenious. It's crisp, has a slightly flaky texture and a buttery taste with just a hint of sweetness, and it's easy to imagine the standard cone conveying fillings other than pizza components. And that's the point. The cone is merely a vehicle, Adar says, and there are recipes for chicken teriyaki cones, breakfast cones, salad cones, and deli conesthe lot of them designed to appeal to on-the-go eaters in general rather than just pizza eaters specifically.
Yeah, But How Does It Taste?
I've gone over the crust, which was surprisingly good. I honestly don't think you'd know it came out of a microwave if you weren't told or didn't witness it cooking.
The fillings were fairly standard pizza fareon par with what you'd get a corner slice joint. This might be owing to the fact that Adar had cooked them up right there for the cone I tried.
Whether that will change when these go into wider production is another matter, as Adar and partner Kivowitz tell me that some major chains are interested in the product and that they're also looking at ramping up a production facility to bring these to the grocery store freezer section. (Crispycones doesn't plan on opening dedicated stores at this point; Adar and Kivowitz say they want to keep a tighter rein on standards than a traditional franchising model would allow.)
Eating the cone was not unlike eating an ice cream cone once the crowning scoop has been licked away. Except for the dripsthere were none. I wouldn't say the eating experience was entirely without mess. As you can imagine, when biting into the edge of the cone, the space between your upper lip and nose is likely to take a dip into the filling, so you have to watch that. But it's hardly any messier than eating a well-topped hot dog, another hand food that the pizza would hope to bit some market from.
Will the cones catch on? That's anyone's guess. Word is among blogs I've read that the first-gen cones enjoyed fad status in Seoul a summer or two ago, and they've already spread to Japan, Russia, Iran, and Indiaall of which gives Adar hope that that first wave has done much of his marketing for him.