Charcoal croissants: why is the black pastry a global hate object?

A restaurant in east London is selling a ‘charcoal-activated vegan croissant’ it claims will help detoxify your body. But the jury’s out on the benefits of eating blackened lumps of carbohydrates

Charcoal Croissant from Coco di Mama
 Activated, not burnt … the charcoal croissant on sale in an east London eatery. Photograph: facebook/cocodimama

Name: Charcoal croissant.

Appearance: A black croissant.

Easily done. I once left one in the oven all day. It looked just like that when I found it. How did it taste?

No idea. You can’t eat a burnt croissant. This one isn’t burned. It has been made with activated charcoal. You can certainly eat it.

That doesn’t mean I will. No. That’s a common reaction. A woman called Amy Charlotte Kean posted a photograph of a charcoal-activated vegan croissant on Twitter on Tuesday morning. She had seen it on sale in a branch of Coco di Mama in east London. The croissant is now a global hate object.

Splendid. But some people have enjoyed eating it. “We can promise you that it 100% tastes better than it looks,” says Coco di Mama’s website.

I’m glad that it tastes better than an incinerated croissant, but I suspect it still tastes worse than an ordinary one. Why on earth did they add charcoal in the first place? It’s a food fad right now.

What? Oh yes. There are charcoal bagels, ice cream, burger buns, smoothies, pizzas … plus charcoal toothpaste and face masks.

Listen, I’m as open-minded as the next person … No you’re not.

All right. I’m not. But still, why add charcoal to your food? Some people say it imparts the unmistakable aroma of smoke. Cynics suggest there’s a novelty factor in eating something that looks uneatable.

Yeah. That’s going to be my hypothesis, I think. Others claim that eating charcoal is actually good for you.

How? “The charcoal in the croissant helps to detoxify any poisons or toxins in your body – for example, alcohol,” claims Coco di Mama.

I’m getting the unmistakable aroma of hogwash. Yeah. They’re talking skilful nonsense there.

Skilful in what way? Well, “activated” charcoal means it has been treated to make it extremely porous and therefore very absorbent. So yes, if you have literally just been poisoned, eating charcoal might be good for you because it could absorb some of the poison in your stomach before your body did.

But what if I haven’t been poisoned? What then? Well, it will just absorb whatever, including water, nutrients and medicine, that your body might actually need. You might as well say that chopping someone’s head off helps to release the toxins from their body.

I might just do that. Say it, I mean. That’s a relief.

Do say: “Try our pain au bitumen. It tastes better than it looks!”

Don’t say: “Vegan! Yuck!”

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