Huffpost Small Business

CookieGate: Romney Cookie Comments Create Flood Of Business For Hometown Baker

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ROMNEY COOKIE
Mitt Romney meeting with local residents in Bethel Park, Pa., where he compared the cookies on hand to snacks found at 7-eleven, sparking "CookieGate." | Getty Images

A Mitt Romney gaffe has brought a wave of customers to one Pennsylvania mom-and-pop.

Bethel Bakery, a 57-year-old Pittsburgh staple, found itself in the national spotlight after Romney compared its cookies to snacks found at 7-Eleven. The slip-up came last week when the GOP presidential candidate met with local residents at an outdoor lunch in Bethel Park, Pa., during which he joked about a batch of cookies.

"I'm not sure about these cookies," Romney told a woman at the table. "They don't look like you made them. No, no. They came from the 7-11 bakery, or whatever."

Oops. Turns out, the treats that Romney "wasn't sure about" came from Bethel Bakery, a local favorite since 1955.

As news outlets and Twitter pounced on the gaffe, John Walsh, the owner of Bethel Bakery, decided to capitalize on the national recognition. The next day, Walsh launched a "CookieGate" special, giving away half a dozen cookies with the purchase of a dozen.

"Our customers came out in droves to support their 57-year-old hometown bakery," Walsh told The Huffington Post in an e-mail. Cookie sales at Bethel Bakery jumped 132 percent last week compared to the previous week, with more than $4,000 worth of cookies sold, Walsh said.

One of those customers was the local office of the Obama campaign, which quickly bought five orders, Bloomberg reported.

"Bottom line," Walsh said, "always welcome visiting dignitaries to your community with a tray of your best and freshest baked goods, because you never know what the response will be."

Bethel Bakery isn't the first small business to get a boost from the 2012 presidential race. Earlier this year, Rick Santorum paid a tiny Minnesota woolen mill $138,000 for more than 3,000 custom-made sweater vests -- his trademark garb -- to give to campaign donors.