Of course we have to start this list with the Cronut. This cream-filled croissant-doughnut creation started the craze of all crazes, a phenomenon that swept across the world (behold the powah of social media), and its creator, Dominique Ansel, has even trademarked it. How many pastries get named one of the “25 Best Inventions of 2013” by TIME Magazine? The line for this hybrid is a phenomenon in and of itself, with people queueing up very early every day in Soho in New York for a chance to try one (the limit is two). It’s quite an experience, with bakery staff offering people fresh-made madeleines, hot chocolate in the winter and lemonade in the summer while they wait in line. People have even met in line who got eventually married, and rings have been offered in Cronuts too. They change the flavor of the Cronut each month and never repeat it, from cherry blossom sour cherry to caramelized malt Valrhona chocolate with Maldon salt. And if you don’t get to try one, there’s always some other amazing item from Ansel’s Willy Wonka-like mind in the case to try, like the Frozen S’more, Magic Soufflé, Milk & Cookie shots and sage-smoked brownie.
Americans have deep-rooted nostalgia for classic sweets ranging from cupcakes to doughnuts to chocolate chip cookies to the perfect slice of pie. But then we have the pastry chefs and bakers who are dreaming up the next-level desserts and creative pastries and inventive Viennoiserie that make us stand in long lines and take pictures of them—just look at what they’re doing to croissants. Some bakers are dreaming up completely new hybrids or creations, while others are taking tradition and then modifying or riffing on it. Here are some of the most popular baked goods from around the country, and thanks to social media, many have earned quite the rock star status—although these are more about a sugar high.