Bellwether Bakery: Hatboro shop’s political cookies may predict election outcome in Pennsylvania

Written by on October 9, 2020

Bellwether Bakery: Hatboro shop’s political cookies may predict election outcome in Pennsylvania 

Megan Frank

October 9, 2020

A Montgomery County bakery is stirring up sales with a special line of confections for election season. And as Megan Frank reports, customers’ reactions to these treats may tell us something about how divided Pennsylvania voters feel.

Fall is usually a pretty slow time for Lochel’s, a third generation bakery in Hatboro. But there’s an election coming.

Bakery manager Kathleen Lochel and her team are slammed right now, prepping and baking up hundreds of sheets of sugar cookies, each one with Biden or Trump’s name on it. 

“The dough is made by my husband and hand-cut by my brother-in-law. This is a four-inch round cookie. We dunk it into the royal icing – basically sugar, water and meringue powder,” said Lochel.

The candidates’ names are then printed onto rice paper. 

“We print the edible image for the cookie, dunk it into the jimmies, and this is the final product.”

That’s either red or blue jimmies for the parties’ colors. Once the cookies cool, they get wrapped in plastic and tied with a red or blue ribbon. 

Lochel says the candidate cookie tradition stretches back to 2008.

“We only sold a few dozen of the McCain – Obama cookies. In 2012, when it was Obama versus Romney, we saw an increase in those. We saw a huge increase when it was Trump versus Clinton”. 

This year, the bakery is bracing itself to sell closer to 3,000 cookies. 

Hatboro mayor Nancy Guenst recently visited the shop to see them.

“This Biden cookie, I would shellac it and hang it on my Christmas tree. Now this one, I would buy it and feed it to my dog,” said Guenst. A man walking by says he’d feed Biden to his dog.

“There you go. See that?! People have to find ways to express themselves,” she said.

Inside the shop, Paulina Rynczak is buying cookies for family and friends. 

“I’m really loving my president. I drove here from Philly. So I have a list of people that want the cookies. Not just Trump. Also, you know, Biden,” said Rynczak. 

But bakery manager Lochel says some of the feedback went too far.

“One of the harshest comments, that I took very personally, said Lochel’s Bakery supports Nazis. One comment said we’re making money off of politics and religion. As my husband said, we’re also selling Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah cakes, and selling Confirmation and Communion cakes. We’re again not endorsing anybody.”

Lochel says they only sell the election cookies when they have stock of both candidates.

“We just felt that it’s fair for both to be out. If you’re coming for one and it’s not there, I just feel like that wouldn’t be fair to the other candidate.”

Lochel keeps track of all election-related cookie sales.

“In 2008, we sold more Barack Obama cookies. In 2012, we sold more Barack Obama cookies. In 2016, we sold a heck of a lot more Donald Trump cookies. Yes, the unscientific poll is right here in Hatboro!”

For her, the candidate cookies are less about politics and more about inspiring people to vote. 

“People are more passionate about this election than what I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. I think it’s very much a love-hate relationship with both candidates.”

The presidential election in Pennsylvania is expected to be very close. Elections officials warn a final count of actual ballots will not be finalized for a week or more after Election Day.

But Lochel’s Bakery plans to release its cookie poll results at closing time on Nov. 3.

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