• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Obama cakes: recipe for Italian baker's success

Angela Giuffrida · 5 Jul 2013, 08:27

Published: 04 Jul 2013 18:36 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Jul 2013 08:27 GMT+02:00

The marketing mix has been so successful that baker Angelo Bisconti is marking US Independence Day, July 4th, with the opening of a new factory on Thursday evening in his town of Campi Salentina, where ten new staff will produce more 'pasticciotto Obama', a type of pudding.

"Over the last five years, this cake has really helped business grow so much," Bisconti told The Local by phone on Thursday, as he geared up for the evening's festivities, which include the unveiling of a marble statue of President Obama in the square opposite his Pasticceria Chèri shop. To top the occasion, the square will also be temporarily named after the sitting US president.

Business has gone so well with the help of the president's name that the Chèri kitchens now produce 5,000 Obama cakes a day, Bisconti said. The cakes are even sold to the Brio in New York, an Italian restaurant owned by Carlo Scoditti. Scoditti will be among the privileged guests this evening, Bisconti added.

Bisconti said that the special cake was his way of honouring America's first black president.

Another example of Bisconti's creative marketing tactics

The unlikely presidential marketing ploy dates back to November 5th, 2008, when Bisconti and his team were scouting for a different recipe for their normally white pasticciotto, he explained. After tweaking some of the ingredient measures and adding cocoa to the mix, he and the rest of his baking team were delighted with the results.

As they wracked their brains for a name, news that the United States had elected its first black president broke on the radio.

"That was when the name came to us, it was our tribute to the new president," Bisconti said.

"We just changed the system we used to make the pasticciotto."

According to the Obama cake baker, his tasty treat even has the blessing of the US ambassador to Italy, David Thorne, although The Local was unable to confirm the claim with US embassy officials in Rome on Thursday.

To help promote the cake, Bisconti launched a website featuring a caricature of a smiling President Obama, holding a pasticciotto.

Ferruccio Pastore, director of the International and European Forum for Migration Research in Turin, said that although the caricature is somewhat questionable, the move is an example of cunning marketing.

"From a purely psychological point of view, there's an association between something sweet and a person...it's supposed to be flattering, if slightly tainted with a suspicion of irony," he told The Local.

"The Miracle of the Obama Pasticciotto"

Pastore said that even though there seems to be an indirect allusion to colour, he deemed the move to be innocent.

Story continues below…

Italy has been hit by several racism storms in recent months, mainly in politics and football.

"Italy is not colourblind. We're still on a learning curve," said Pastore.

"But this story is fundamentally a kind story. In his way, a small businessman in southern Italy is making dialogue with a powerful man."

Pastore pointed to other products that traded off President Obama after his election. An ad for a chocolate-vanilla ice-cream bearing his name sparked an outcry in Russia, while other Russian ads featuring the US president included tanning salons and tooth-whitening services.

In Sweden, meanwhile, the owner of Obamas, a sausage and kebab stand which opened in the south of the country shortly after President Obama's first presidential election win, also found naming her business after the US president to be a winning marketing strategy.

"Customers also remember the name and recommend it to their friends,” co-owner Amro Hawary told The Local Sweden in 2011.

Angela Giuffrida (angela.giuffrida@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Two arrested over WhatsApp terrorism probe
The two men had been living in Italy for years. Photo: Raffaele Esposito/Flickr

A WhatsApp message mistakenly sent to a woman in Liguria sparked a full-blown terror probe.

Italian team finds vaccine against western diet's ills
An Italian team have discovered a vaccine that could protect against illnesses caused by the typical western diet. Photo: Alpha/Joe Flintham/Flickr

The vaccine could reduce incidences of type 2 diabetes and heart problems commonly associated with obesity.

The Local List
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
Photo: Alberto Fava/Flickr

When you move to Italy, you're bound to make a few mistakes before you settle into la dolce vita. Here are a few to look out for...

Higuain goes from hero to zero after big-money Juve deal
The striker moved to Juventus on Monday for €90 million.Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP

Napoli fans are furious with their former Argentinian talisman after his big-money move to rivals Juventus.

Fiat Chrysler revises 'doctored' sales figures amid probe
Fiat Chrysler is being investigated over allegations it doctored US sales figures. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

The company now says it did not really celebrate a streak of monthly year-over-year sales gains going back to April 2010.

Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain joins Juventus: official
Gonzalo Higuain is now a Juventus player. Photo: Nelson Almedia/AFP

Gonzalo Higuain completed his move to Juventus after the Italian champions reportedly agreed to pay a €94.7 million buyout clause to wrest the Argentine striker from Napoli on Tuesday.

Italy's government nets €759 million in air traffic sale
Italy has sold part of its air traffic service company Enav. Photo: Luigi Rosa/Flickr

The Italian government on Tuesday sold part of air traffic service company Enav on the stock exchange, netting €759 million.

After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Italy's Five Star Movement (MS5) is now the country's most popular political party. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The political pulse of Italy has changed its rhythm.

'Hoax' package causes bomb scare on Milan's underground
The suspect package created chaos for rush hour travellers on the city's underground. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

"It was probably left there deliberately to create panic."

Rome cracks down on splash-happy fountain dippers
Rome's fountains may seem tempting, but bathing is forbidden. Photo: TrastevereRM/Delilah Jay/Sean Mcentry

Cooling off with a midnight dip in Rome's famous Trevi Fountain may sound like a dream "Roman Holiday", but an Italian police crackdown has landed a series of splash-happy tourists with fat fines.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
Travel
Escape the heat at one of these beautiful Italian lakes
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Why the UK is now officially crazier than Italy
Culture
How you can stay cool like an ancient Roman
Lifestyle
Food for thought: fight on to save Med diet from extinction
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
From asylum seeker in Italy to organic yoghurt entrepreneur
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Fifteen maps that tell the story of Italy
National
Why Italy might be the next big threat to the EU's future
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Politics
Post Brexit, less than a third of Italians want to leave EU
Politics
The bright side of Brexit: the 'good news' for Brits in Italy
Culture
Eight wonderful things to do in Italy in July
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Six of the best places to visit within easy reach of Rome
British business owners in Italy feel Brexit jitters
National
How to get Italian citizenship (or at least stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Where does Britain's exit from the EU leave Italy?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
Has the time come for Italy’s Five Star Movement to shine?
Society
Why Italy must change after young woman’s brutal murder
Politics
Is Italy's Five Star up to the challenge of running Rome?
Culture
Six of the most bizarre Italian foods everyone should try
2,576
jobs available