It was 9 a.m. on a recent morning when the first Cronut hit Instagram. Already, that was late for the Cronut: Normally, the famous croissant-doughnut hybrid starts a trail of geotags in the Soho neighborhood of New York City by 8 a.m. — often on the dot — when the first Cronut of the day is sold. Others will follow. Followers will stalk.
If Dominique Ansel Bakery’s Frankenpastry has yet to hit your Instagram feed — let alone your sweet tooth — you’re an anomaly. Like a sugar trap for the modern-day Hansel and Gretel (even more for Gretel, as women are statistically most active on social media), Ansel’s Spring Street address is the second-most prominent American sweet spot. Of course, this only applies to its worth measured in geotags, not salt or sugar. An even greater social media superstar, categorically a heavyweight in sugar, is New Orleans’s Café Du Monde, which is rich in geotags, laden with beignets.
The list shouldn’t surprise you, because if it’s accurate (note: Instagram confirms it’s accurate), you’ve likely seen parts of it — multiple times — gracing your feed.
Nevertheless, here’s the sweetest geotagging action you’ll find on Instagram across all 50 states:
Café Du Monde
If only Instagram existed in 1862, we could trace the ebb and flow of New Orleans–bound tourists by way of Café Du Monde. Keen to treat every visitor, it stays open 24 hours a day and seven days a week. It closes only for Christmas Day and, it allows, if “an occasional hurricane passes too close to New Orleans.” Tourists and Instagrammers alike can’t resist the illustrious beignets, whose powdered-sugar clouds can easily be spotted in the air amid selfie sticks. And while there are lesser lines — perhaps leading to greater beignets — throughout the city, Café Du Monde tops the list of most geotagged bakeries in the whole country. If only we could see if there was a spike in 1988, the year it debuted iced coffee.
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Dominique Ansel Bakery
Parrying for number one, there may be no baker more practiced in geotaggable treats than Dominique Ansel. While his eponymous bakery has made news since opening in late 2011, its instantaneous fame can be traced back to this unassuming post on Grub Street, which inexplicably sparked a mad dash for Ansel’s Cronut. Lines formed, and continue to form, and we wonder when they will ever not form.
After getting their Cronut, sweet-seekers can walk en masse just blocks away to another geotag generator and queue up at Ladurée Soho, the French chain’s first North American outpost (internationally, it’s pushing 70 locations). The pâtisserie is best known for its macarons, shipped from Paris every week, all of which likely end up on Instagram, thanks to their perfectly petite shapes and polychromatic palettes.
Voodoo Doughnut can arguably be credited with igniting the gourmet-doughnut craze. But Portland’s best-known sweet also started something savory — specifically, the put-bacon-on-everything trend. The owners have since apologized for their Maple Bacon Doughnut, which inspired sweet-bacon mashups everywhere, but they aren’t apologizing for their other wild ideas, which draw crowds of Instagrammers. These creations have names you’d think Instagram might mistakenly take down; the Cock-N-Balls, Tex-Ass, and Butterfingering doughnuts are among the most unsavory — yet most likely to be hashtagged.
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Less explicit, with a tendency for eliciting aw’s, is California Donuts in Los Angeles’s Koreatown. While this outfit’s treats are definitely cuter — the Panda Donut is, as you might dream, shaped like the panda emoji — they aren’t always classic. The Snickers Bar donut does, in fact, pocket a Snickers bar in its core, while the Lucky Charms doughnut, encrusted with the marshmallow cereal, isn’t exactly part of a complete breakfast. Still, it makes for a sweet Insta post.
Apparently, we’re not over cupcakes. You could have a batch mailed directly to your home address, and you could simply watch the live “Cupcake Cam” streaming footage from the bakeshop, but most enthusiasts head to Washington, D.C., to see (read: geotag) Georgetown Cupcake for themselves. The bakery’s Instagram followers travel far for these cupcakes, thanks to the DC Cupcakes show on TLC, as well as twee offerings like Bubblegum Pink Chocolate and Sunshine Vanilla.
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Apparently, we’re still not over cupcakes. If Magnolia Bakery‘s original owners hadn’t used leftover cake batter to crank out cupcakes, TV’s Carrie Bradshaw might not have spent a whopping 20 seconds eating one in a single episode of Sex and the City, thereby sparking a nationwide sensation that lead fellow cupcake enthusiasts to take up the torch in major cities and tiny towns alike. But even well past peak cupcake, droves land daily at the West Village address to Instagram the cupcake cash cow.
Another TLC alum pockets geotags over in Hoboken, New Jersey, but you already knew that. While the brick-and-mortar has been around since 1910, the family-run Carlo’s Bakery became a household name when Bartolo Jr., better known as Buddy, put the family’s Italian sweets in the spotlight with Cake Boss. There’s surely a spike in geotags on Cannoli Day, when the bakery cuts their cannoli price to just 25 cents.
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Another family-run operation, where the meringue-frosted Cuban cakes stand out among the best on the West Coast, is L.A.’s Porto’s Bakery. While the family opened its original location in 1976 selling Cuban pastries, the clan later added other indulgences from Europe and Mexico to round out the sugary menu. Of course, this isn’t to knock the savories: The family often sells a cumulative million of its cheese rolls in a single month.
This morning I accidentally added cumin to my #quinoa porridge and I’m now in a dark dreary place dreaming of chocolat au pain and days that require shades 🕶 #fbf #fml . . . . . . #chocolate #croissant #croissants #frenchpastry #chocolataupain #tartinebakery #sanfrancisco #sanfraneats #sanfranciscofood #sanfranciscoeats #infatuationsf #vacation #csdsanfrancisco #breakfast #brunch #tgif #friday #california
It’s almost surprising to see San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery at the back of this lineup. Or maybe it’s a relief; the lines forming at the Mission bakery, famous for its croissant, its pain au chocolat, its morning bun (and so on), easily last more than a half hour. And yet it’s worth it. As one Instagrammer of a Tartine croissant attests: “Life will never be perfect, but this is pretty damn close.”