Former vice president Joe Biden may be inching closer to the presidency after gains in Pennsylvania and Georgia. But he didn’t take the lead in two local presidential cookie polls.
Tampa’s Alessi Bakery at 2909 W Cypress St. continued its annual tradition of selling candidate cookies during the final months of the election. Shoppers crowded in to buy cookies covered in icing and an edible rice paper photo of their preferred candidate, while a whiteboard displayed the running tally updated the evening before.
“Usually whoever won the cookie count ended up winning the presidency,” said assistant manager Jason Alessi, 40. “This would be probably the first year it didn’t turn out that way.”
The 108-year-old bakery was “absolutely slammed” on Election Day, Alessi said. By the end of Election Day, 1,555 Biden cookies had been sold. As with the last election, Trump prevailed, winning with a whopping 3,593 cookies.
Alessi Bakery triumphed too, selling out of presidential cookies.
“It seems like every presidential year it gets bigger and bigger,” Alessi said. “We sell more of the presidential cookies than we do of any holiday cookies.”
Customers drove from out of town to participate in the cookie poll at Frida’s Cafe & Bakery in Largo. Like he did at Alessi Bakery, Trump came out on top. But his path to victory wasn’t so steady.
“He was ahead in September and then in October Biden started coming ahead," bakery owner Frida Alipour, 64, said. “But all of the sudden, Trump cookies were just flying out of the door.”
By the end of Election Day, about 1,500 Biden cookies had sold. Customers purchased close to 2,000 Trump cookies.
“One election ago, Hillary won the cookie poll," Alipour said. “I’m surprised because Pinellas County turned blue, so maybe it was just our immediate area."
“In a way we probably are correct, because Trump won Florida.”
Alipour opted to not display a running tally of cookie sales this year due to the contentious nature of the election. Because of it, she didn’t sell as many as she did during election years past. Next time, the tally will be back.
“I think if you put it out, both sides get excited and buy more cookies,” Alipour said. "Hopefully next election we sell more cookies. I’m not going to be shy.”
Still, the cookies were so popular on Election Day that the bakery ran out of white icing, then the sugar cookie base. Decorators ended up using pumpkin cookies as a substitute.
“It was like a holiday day for us as far as sales go," she said. “Both sides seemed excited and were buying more of anything. It was a big party at our bakery. I guess people were celebrating voting, and we couldn’t keep up.”