3960 West Point Loma Boulevard, San Diego
Following success in local farmers’ markets, the Cravory finally has a brick-and-mortar location. The company picked an interesting place to set up shop, right in a strip mall along West Point Loma Boulevard. The minimal design scheme, with its restricted color palette, is at once modern and vintage. Imagine a late-Victorian iPhone, if that makes any sense whatsoever, and you’ll have the basic idea.
Display samples of each cookie sit out on the counter. Pancakes and bacon, red velvet cake, “almond joyous,” or just plain chocolate chip.
The company’s not-so-secret method involves baking the cookies at high temperature (>400 degrees Fahrenheit) for a short baking time, so that the pastries are deliberately underbaked, soft, and moist. If a pastry chef made cookies like the Cravory’s at a restaurant, his boss in the big hat would say something like, “What the hell did you do to the cookies?”
It’s hard to side with poor baking technique. Words like doughy and raw come to mind. Conventionally, the perfect chocolate chip cookie has a soft, chewy center, but one that gradually yields to a crispy, almost caramelized crust at the outer edges. The path to such alchemy is careful mixing of the dough (to control the amount of air within) and careful shaping before baking (to control how quickly the dough melts in the oven before the cookie solidifies).
Then again, the Cravory’s cookies thwart criticism, if for no other reason than their apparent success. Apparent. That’s a good word. Is there more going on here than meets the eye? Is the Cravory actually just a genius piece of marketing?
Watch the video posted on their website, where the entrepreneurs behind the operation get “interviewed.” It’s done as if for a news program, but the hosting YouTube channel is 4120 Studios, a production company that makes high-quality videos for paying customers. The Cravory video was made for SavorSD.com, but SavorSD is, for all intents and purposes, 4120 Studios. Circular logic much?
Google the Cravory, and find a bunch “candy mom” type bloggers suggesting that the cookies are the most significant piece of baking history since the invention of leavening.
But where’s the “real” press? The OB Rag has the closest thing to a mainstream review, and Judi Curry concludes that she might as well have gone to the supermarket, saying:
“Are [the cookies] any better than what one can buy in the bakery at Ralph’s or Von’s? No, quite honestly, they are not any better. They are equal to them, but I can buy a large box of cookies at the supermarket for $5 — and it satisfies my sweet tooth just fine.”
There’s the rub. When you get down to it, the Cravory sells not-very-good, sugar-heavy doughballs by dressing them up with chic design and marketing to Pinterest fans hell-bent on consuming anything that resembles a “labor of love,” or what have you.
There’s the second rub. It’s not the Cravory’s fault that such a business strategy works. Are we all so keen to be up on things that we shovel underbaked cookies into our gaping maws because we “heard they were good?”
How about no for a change.