Are Beignets The New Donut?

Donuts have had a strong presence in licensing and pop culture over the past few years. Owners of licensed properties have partnered for limited-edition flavors at donut chains, donut shops have extended their brands into other products, and donuts have been prominent design elements in fashion, stationery, and the like.

Lately, however, it has begun to feel as if the beignet is trying to make a move to displace the donut:

  • Last month Ben & Jerry’s paired with Big Freedia, a musician and the self-proclaimed Queen of Bounce, for a limited-edition batch of ice cream called Big Freedia’s Bouncing Beignets. Bounce is a New Orleans-centric style of hip-hop. The product was available at a one-time event in New Orleans, with proceeds going to charity.
  • Café du Monde, a New Orleans chain of coffee stands known for its beignets, created a limited-edition of 157 pairs of beignet-inspired sneakers with local shoe store Sneaker Politics and footwear marketer Saucony. The products debuted earlier this summer.
  • In February of this year, Box Lunch introduced a range of products, some exclusive, marking the 10th anniversary of the Disney movie Princess and the Frog. Some of the items, such as t-shirts, feature beignet themes, reflecting Princess Tiana’s dream in the movie of opening a beignet shop. (The property spurred some beignet-themed products the first time around as well.)
  • Singer and actress Christina Milian opened a food truck in Los Angeles called Beignet Box, which sells beignets made from her own recipe. Milian’s involvement in licensing ranges from a program she launched in the early 2010s for an animated character she created, Shelby Star, to her tech company, Persona, which markets a “chatbot for influencers” and has customers including Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty (with Kendo Brands).

All of these are very limited projects for a niche customer base, and will not cause the beignet to supplant the donut in share of mind or pocketbook any time soon. But perhaps this collection of initiatives signals the emergence of a future design and content trend that will have a broader impact on the licensing business.

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