Insomnia Cookies college monopoly may Crumbl

Crumbl Cookies has recently opened its first New York City location, but the popular franchise may not survive in the saturated Manhattan cookie market.

Griffin Eckstein, Contributing Writer

Almost three months after I had my last Crumbl cookie, I heard the news that the dessert chain would be expanding into New York City. The announcement brought me right back to my high school days in suburbia. My friends and I would meet in the Crumbl parking lot after concerts or football games, and share the signature bright pink box — we even had the branded cookie cutters to cut the cookies into quarters. Needless to say, the 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 the weekly flavor rotation, were created in 2018. Each aspect of the Crumbl image, from the minimalistic packaging, to the store aesthetic, to the uniquely uniform shape and size of each cookie, is carefully designed to create a brand.

While Crumbl has over 630 locations in 47 states, its first New York City location faces tough competition: Insomnia Cookies, which was founded almost 15 years earlier than Crumbl, has more than 200 locations, with 20 in Manhattan alone. With four storefronts within a mile of Washington Square Park and the entire NYU campus sitting within delivery range, Insomnia has a leg up on accessibility for students. But, if you don’t mind a commute, the 6 train can get you from Union Square to Crumbl in about 15 minutes.

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Since Crumbl is closed on Sundays and it has a weekly rotating menu, it is essential to perfectly time your visit. I had a chance to go the week of Oct. 31, and I had the choices of Peanut Butter Nougat, Blue Monster, Almond Coconut Fudge, Sugar, Cornbread Honey Cake and the classic Milk Chocolate Chip, which remains available every week. 

One Crumbl cookie is sold at around $5, comparable in weight and price to Insomnia’s deluxe cookies, which are $4.50 each. But Crumbl only offers one cookie size, with no lower price options like Insomnia’s $2.75 classic cookies. It’s worth noting that I waited a little over 45 minutes in line on a Wednesday evening, but the crowds will probably die down over time.

The bakery has found massive success on social media. The hashtag #crumblcookies on TikTok has garnered over 2.6 billion views, and the company has over 6 million followers on the platform. Crumbl even started a weekly podcast, Crumbl Mumbl, to capitalize on the weekly cookie reviews that many fans post. The brand’s ability to leverage the internet largely contributed to its success — I saw at least three customers filming and taking photos of the experience while in line.

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

It’s hard to say whether or not Crumbl can beat NYU student staples like Insomnia, Levain Bakery or even Lipton Hall. However, the brand’s rapid growth and social media prowess make it likely that the city can expect even more locations — maybe even one closer to campus. 

Contact Griffin Eckstein at [email protected]