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Jan 7 '20 at 13:37 comment added Luke Sawczak @ledebutant I agree that the cause is not the aptness of "croissant", but the lack of an equivalent for "pain" in North America. At least "croissant" more or less conveys the flaky pastry.
Jan 7 '20 at 11:11 comment added JD2000 @ledebutant I wouldn't say that, and in fact in the UK I have only ever seen chocolate croissant used for something that really is a chocolate croissant. Many people there think there is a pastry called a pan-oh and servers will say pan-oh chocolate (with chocolate pronounced exactly as in English) or pan-oh raisin (again with raisin pronounced exactly as in English) for a pain aux raisins - so they are not hearing pain in the sense of something very simple and basic (bread) or something negative (pain).
Jan 7 '20 at 9:19 comment added ledebutant Would it be safe to assume that "pain" does not convey a nice idea in English, whereas croissant not only does, but does it with a sense of "French class"? Marketing-wise, it seems to make absolute sense. As for the use of "croissant au chocolat", I've roamed France and Belgium for decades and this is the first time I've ever heard about it. Most people would just assume that you want a croissant split in two with a chocolate bar inside, or indeed, if you have a foreign accent, imagine that you are referring to a pain au chocolat.
Jan 5 '20 at 12:38 comment added Greg @JD2000: I have come across the exact same term in Miami, in California and in New York, so I also think chocolate croissant has become the accepted term in the USA for a "pain au chocolat". In my last trip to the US, I have seen this term croissant used in a bakery for almost everything that looked like what the French would call "viennoiseries" (croissant with raisins for a "pain aux raisins", etc.). I guess that, as croissant imported in English has lost its relationship to the crescent shape, we may see its meaning evolve to any pastry that looks vaguely French to US consumers.
Jan 5 '20 at 11:01 comment added jlliagre Yes, I had never heard about croissants (crescent shape) with chocolate inside sold in boulangeries or coffee shops until I saw your question. Of course, no law forbids to sell such things and there are certainly places where you might find some in France, and even more outside France, like Spain where viennoiseries are common too.
Jan 5 '20 at 7:49 comment added JD2000 Thanks. This is the coffee shop's term though, not mine - it put "chocolate croissant" on the menu but served what I would call a "pain au chocolat". Chocolate croissants (croissants with a chocolate fondant filling) do exist where I am. From the original version of your answer (and LPH's answer below) it looks as though most French people do still link the name of the pastry with the shape, and would think the coffee shop was misusing the term. I think it may be an American thing.
Jan 4 '20 at 20:50 history edited jlliagre CC BY-SA 4.0
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Jan 4 '20 at 20:43 history edited jlliagre CC BY-SA 4.0
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Jan 4 '20 at 15:06 history answered jlliagre CC BY-SA 4.0