While toilet paper can be hard to come by at stores due to the coronavirus outbreak, a Prospect Park bakery has plenty of rolls in their display case. But not Cottonelle or Charmin. This is yellow cake with icing and a fondant wrap, which creates the appearance of ridges and the folded-over edge of a fresh roll of TP.
For Traub’s Bakery, the purpose of these cakes is twofold: to make people laugh during this scary, uncertain time and to drive business, which has been slow as people practice social distancing to decrease the spread of the virus.
“People who love [the cakes] most are the ones running around, trying to find toilet paper," said manager Flossie Cowan. “One woman was like, ‘My daughter still hasn’t found toilet paper. I need to get this for her.’”
A former Traub’s cake decorator came up with the idea in recent days as the bakery prepared for perhaps months of economic uncertainty.
Traub’s has a history of incorporating pop culture and current events into its sweets. They’ve sold Pope Francis cakes, deflated football cakes during the Patriots’ “Deflategate” scandal, and presidential candidate cookies and “Make America Great Again” hat cakes during the 2016 election.
They started selling the toilet paper cakes on Tuesday. Once Cowan posted photos of the creation to the bakery’s Facebook page, the phone started ringing (she recommends people call ahead if they’re desperate for a roll, which come in 3-inch and 7-inch sizes).
They sold nearly 200 by Wednesday morning, Cowan said, and were waiting for their next shipment of cake so bakers and decorators could get started on the next batch.
By and large, the response has been positive, she said.
“There are some haters who don’t think we’re taking [the coronavirus] seriously,” she said, “when really we’re trying to add humor to a serious situation.”
On Thursday, the feast of St. Joseph, the line at Traub’s would usually be out the door, she said, with people waiting to buy St. Joseph’s cakes, a cross between a cannoli and a cream puff. But few had come in to purchase one early Wednesday, she said.
She’s been encouraged, however, to see customers arriving to pick up a toilet paper cake, and end up buying other items as well.