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Insomnia Cookies College Monopoly Can Crumble

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Crumbl Cookies recently opened its first location in New York, but the popular franchise may not survive in Manhattan’s crowded cookie market.

Almost three months after eating my last Crumbl cookie, I heard the news that the dessert chain would be expanding into New York City. The ad took me back to my school days in the suburbs. My friends and I would meet in the Crumble parking lot after concerts or football games and share the signature hot pink box—we even had signature cookie cutters to cut the cookies into quarters. Needless to say, a pilgrimage to the Upper East Side became my top priority.

Crumbl was founded in 2017 in Utah, but its most iconic branding, the signature pink box paired with a weekly rotation of flavors, was created in 2018. Every aspect of Crumbl’s image, from the minimalist packaging to the store aesthetic, to the uniquely uniform shape and size of each cookie, is carefully designed to create the brand.

While Crumbl has more than 630 locations in 47 states, its first location in New York faces stiff competition: Insomnia Cookies, which was founded nearly 15 years before Crumbl, has more than 200 locations, with 20 just Manhattan. With four storefronts within one mile of Washington Square Park and the entire NYU campus within delivery range, Insomnia has the advantage of being accessible to students. But if you don’t mind the commute, the 6 train can get you from Union Square to the Crumble in about 15 minutes.

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Since Crumbl is closed on Sundays and has a weekly changing menu, timing your visit is essential. I had the opportunity to visit the week of October 31st and had my choice of Peanut Butter Nougat, Blue Monster, Almond Coconut Fudge, Sugar, Honey Cornbread Cake, and Classic Milk Chocolate, which remains available every week.

A single Crumbl cookie retails for about $5, which is comparable in weight and price to Insomnia’s deluxe cookies, which cost $4.50 each. But Crumbl only offers one cookie size, with no lower-priced options like Insomnia’s classic $2.75 cookie. It should be noted that I waited in line for a little over 45 minutes on a Wednesday night, but the crowds will probably thin out over time.

The bakery has been a huge success on social media. The #crumblcookies hashtag on TikTok has garnered more than 2.6 billion views, and the company has more than 6 million followers on the platform. Crumbl even launched a weekly Crumbl Mumbl podcast to capitalize on the weekly cookie reviews that many fans post. The brand’s ability to use the Internet has been a big part of its success—I saw at least three customers filming and photographing their experiences while in line.

I don’t know what tasted better, the cookies or the nostalgia it gave me. The Peanut Butter Nougat had just the right amount of sweetness. It was very soft and warm even when I got back to my dorm. Either way, it’s undeniable that Crumbl cookies are more than just a product.

It’s hard to say whether Crumbl will be able to top student staples like Insomnia, Levain Bakery, or even Lipton Hall. Still, the brand’s rapid growth and social media prowess make it likely that the city could be looking forward to even more locations — perhaps even closer to campus.

Contact Griffin Eckstein on [email protected]

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