Wednesday, June 30, 2010

President Obama Visits O & H Danish Bakery - Updated, With Video

Sampling award-winning pastry in Wisconsin, pre-Town Hall: "Don't tell Michelle"
*Update at bottom of post
President Obama
stopped in at O & H Danish Bakery before his Town Hall on the economy in Racine, Wisconsin today. He nibbled on the local pastry specialty, called a Kringle, which is a dinner-plate sized Danish pastry with a sweet or savory filling.

As he spoke to his Town Hall audience after the visit, the President noted his sweet stop, and added that he might also have to sample another local favorite food: Brat and cheese curds.

"Don't tell Michelle," President Obama said, to laughter from the crowd. That's become his catchphrase for road trip eating.

Racine Mayor John Dickert met the President inside O & H, (Dickert is the fellow with the President in each photo), and as they approached the pastry counter, the Mayor asked "You want health food? Right here," and pointed at the Kringle display, according to the pool.

Bakery staff had samples for the President already laid out, including rhubarb, apple, and cheese Kringle. One of the bakery staffers insisted the President try the cheese, her favorite. The President took a bite of each. (Above: A staffer holds a full-size Kringle)

"It makes you happier," President Obama said. "It cheers you up."

Racine has historically been a stronghold of Danish-American culture, and its bakeries make hundreds of thousands of Kringle (and ship these worldwide) each year. O & H's Kringle was voted best in Racine County for the fourth time in 2009--amidst stiff competition--and now has the Presidential seal of approval.

“Those are outstanding,” The President said. “Pecan and cherry sound just right.”

The President added, his mouth full, “These are good.”

The President shook hands with two of the staff, Sarah Noe and Sonia Gatzke.

The bakery is owned by brothers Eric, Mike, and Dale Olsen, and has been open since 1949. All pastries are handmade.

After the Kringle extravaganza, the President went on a hunt at the back of the store for a Wisconsin key chain for Malia, whom, he announced, collects such things. He seemed to have no luck.

Paying cash...
As he headed out, President Obama stopped at the cash register to pay for his pecan, cheese and cherry Kringle (above).

“What’s the damage here?” he asked.

When told an astonishingly low price, the President protested.

“That can't be right. No, no, no I'm paying full price,” he said. The President pulled out a wad of bills, and paid for the Kringle, which were $7.45 each. The Mayor made his own purchase.

“I just enjoy paying because I never get to pay anything,” President Obama explained to the cashier. “They take my change away."

President Obama paid cash when he visited Ray's Hell Burger with Russian Federation President Dmitri Medvedev last week, too.

O & H immediately posted the photo, above, on its Facebook page, and wrote:

President Obama was just in our Bakery on Durand Ave! The motorcade pulled up, he bought three Kringle, and even took pictures with some of our staff. Now, he's on his way to the town meeting.

Info: President Obama visited O & H's bakery at 4006 Durand Avenue, Racine, WI, 53405. Phone: 1-262-554-1311. The bakery has a second shop at 1841 Douglas Avenue.

Update: President Obama's Kringle consumption is the centerpiece of this week's West Wing Week, the White House video series that recaps activity inside and outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The video is titled "Home of The Kringle," and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack makes a cameo appearance, too. Watch:

*Photos: Top by Kristyna Wentz-Graff, Milwaukee Journal-Sentil; others via AP; last photo by O & H. White House video.