NEW YORK— Pope Francis’ visit to the United States has charged the tourism industry in New York and Philadelphia, where events are expected to draw over a million visitors. In one New York Italian neighborhood, it’s the face of the Pope himself that’s generating profits and satisfied customers.
Belmont, the “Little Italy of the Bronx”, New York, is home to Artuso Pastry, a bakery and café that is gearing up for Pope Francis’ visit with a special edition dessert.
Traditionally known as a “black and white” cookie, a signature New York shortbread pastry with chocolate and vanilla icing, the family-owned business came up with the idea for a papal variation during Pope Benedict’s visit in 2008.
Atop the cookie, the vanilla icing becomes a tasty paste for edible paper, printed with edible color ink, featuring Pope Francis’ face.
Natalia Corridori, the bakery’s manager, said some Catholics are afraid to eat it.
“Some of them want to frame it, some of them want to freeze it, some people are afraid to eat it, they think it’s a sin to eat it, and some people are the complete opposite and they think it’s a blessing to eat it and miracles might come from it,” said Corridori.
At $2.95 a piece, sales have rocketed. Baker Sergio Hernández said making them is a source of pride.
“As a Catholic, it gives me joy to place the image of the Pope on a cookie. I am proud to be one of the people that’s doing this,” he said.
But not everyone is sold. Doris Murray, a loyal client at the bakery and fan of Pope Francis, thinks it’s all a gimmick.
For the bakery’s manager, it’s about creating a satisfying experience. Her goal is for Pope Francis to try his cookie for himself.