DirecTV dropped Rob Lowe amid complaints about its ad campaign featuring Rob Lowe and his less-Rob Lowe alter ego—but it’s sticking with the format. This year NFL fans are being treated to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and his less-Romo selves. (Also, QB Peyton Manning.) One of those Romos is “Arts & Craftsy Tony Romo” who mixes “a cupcake and brownie,” knighting it “The Crownie.”
— Sam Ponder (@sam_ponder) October 27, 2015
On Twitter where football season ads are regularly savaged, some have suggested that a Crownie is a great idea. But it’s not a new one. In fact, it pre-dates the cronut and Tony Romo is lying about inventing it. In fact, the Crownie is trademarked (in Canada).
— Tony Romo (@tonyromo) July 25, 2015
Since the debut of the commercial, Arts & Craftsy Tony Romo’s crownies have become a meme. Romo has denied that he made any crownies for his Cowboy teammates and his teammates have denied that they would want him to.
They make it seem like arts and craftsy Tony Romo is so bad, but in reality I would definitely want a Crownie
— Johnny Bowlah (@jmsiv99) October 25, 2015
Here's the thing about that Tony Romo direct TV ad – it doesn't make me want direct TV, but I do want a crownie.
— Becky Schonbrun (@beckyrumba) September 27, 2015
I think arts and craftsy Tony Romo might actually be a genius because his idea for a "crownie" sounds delicious
— Jared Andrews (@JaredAndrews3) October 25, 2015
Whatever, DirectTV – I'll gladly keep my cable TV and get to eat a crownie (cupcake/brownie hybrid).
— W.G. Snuffy, Esq. (@iamthedriving) September 28, 2015
There seems to be some demand for Romo’s crownie: Every time the DirecTV ad runs, somebody on Twitter asks for one.
Even though Romo has no interest in making crownies, those close to him have recognized the pastry’s potential. The recent launch party for Fanwish, a Texas charity that counts Romo as an investor, included a special serving of crownies.
They're serving crownies at Tony Romo's FanWish event at Nick and Sam's pic.twitter.com/Yq0CbKNgp7
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 2, 2015
Of course, Arts & Craftsy Tony Romo is lying about inventing the crownie. Long before Romo introduced NFL fans to the hybrid pastry, bakeries were offering crownie variations and a few entrepreneurial bakers were trying to corner the crownie market.
UK restaurant Miners Arms offers a crownie (“Brownie and cookie made into a ‘cup’ for the chocolate sauce.”) At Toronto’s Queen Pastry, the crownie is “Part cookie, part brownie and all natural!” The bake shop also claims a trademark (for Canada anyway) on “Crownie.” In an email, inventor David Fisher says they created the crownie in 2009. Fisher said he could only trademark it in Canada and that he had never seen the Romo ad.
In the US, crownies are widely available. Ohio’s Bakery at ResTORAHtion Farm offers four crownie flavors including pumpkin. Spice brand McCormick offers its Red Velvet Crownie recipe online: “chocolate chip cookies and fudge brownies are combined into an indulgent cookie dough-topped brownie.”
It’s easy to assume crownies were an attempt to cash in on the success of the “cronut,” the croissant-donut mash up created by New York baker Dominique Ansel. The cronut was a national phenomenon with everyone from Japanese bakeries to Dunkin’ Donuts trying to create their own versions.
Translation: "The hottest donut in all New York": Shanghai bakery now serving shanzhai cronuts pic.twitter.com/cgnLaluAQg
— Abe Sauer (@abesauer) August 25, 2013
But crownies predate cronuts by nearly a decade. Urban Dictionary has a listing for “crownie” going back to 2006, defining it as “a cookie that tastes very brownie-like but is not quite a brownie.” (“Crownie” is also Aussie slang for Crown beer.) And a New York Daily News article from June 2008 made note of the Forest Park neighborhood’s The Bakery Shop and its crownie that was “so good, it deserves a crown.” In 2010, Food.com asked, “What’s better than a cookie or a brownie? How bout’ both!” Two years later, The Christian Science Monitor looked at crownies made with gooey candy Rolo centers. It’s worth noting that, while not as popular, bakers have also experimented with “brupcakes.”
Today Georgia’s Tasty Treats serves crownies that also “truly deserve a Crown!” And Southern California’s Casey’s Cupcakes offers a decadent crownie: “The first layer is a rich Ghiradelli chocolate brownie with chocolate chips baked inside, second is a moist Tahitian vanilla bean cake topped with marvelous milk chocolate ganache frosting, haloed with Italian chocolate flakes and finished with glitter and a crown medallion.”
In 2014, Ansel trademarked his Cronut. But trademarking has proven elusive for the crownie. The first attempt to trademark the crownie came in July 2013. A woman from Dallas applied to protect the mark “crownie” as a cookie product. She abandoned the application in 2014 for reasons unknown.
That same year, Florida’s Cafe Chic applied to trademark “Crowny” as a bakery dessert. The cafe abandoned the trademark just a few weeks ago in 2015.
So despite what Tony Romo says bakeries are free to continue making and marketing crownies with abandon. Maybe pair them with a cupcakewich.