EDMONDS — The baker who made national news earlier this year for selling politically charged sugar cookies continues “ICE”-ing his controversial slogans.
At Edmonds Bakery in recent weeks, a tray with a dozen round red cookies with “Build the Wall” and “Secure Borders” spelled out in white icing was in the glass case shared by colorful ladybug and butterfly shaped treats.
The “Make ’em cry again” cookie wasn’t among the baked goods on that particular day.
Photos of the cookies on social media ignited a new wave of attention — supportive and outraged — for Ken Bellingham’s bakery.
“Unless you want your cookies baked with bigotry, go somewhere else for your pastries!” was among the hundreds of posts.
Others praised him: “Hell yeah! Build the cookies!”
It didn’t hurt business. Foot traffic was steady last week for customers coming in for coffee and confections.
The old-time bakery has been on Main Street for decades. Bellingham bought it in 1993. It’s a quaint place, with a display of about 200 colorful ceramic jars of superheroes, Disney characters, dogs, clowns and bears.
Not a place where you’d expect to be jarred by a message on cookies.
Bellingham, 67, defends his baking rights.
He said the recent incident was caused by people who are “radicalized and on the internet.”
“The phone was ringing off the hook and every time I picked it up people were calling me a piece of crap,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why do they pick on me?’ … I don’t want people to think that of me. They think I’m a racist and horrible.”
Bellingham fended off criticism earlier this year when he wrote “Build that Wall” on a tray of heart-shaped Valentine’s Day cookies, many with romantic messages.
News of the frosted wall cookie went viral when Ana Carrera, whose parents fled Mexico before she was born, was in the bakery and posted a photo to Facebook. “It is very demonizing to anyone of the Spanish-speaking language or origin,” she said.
Bellingham told media outlets at the time that it was a mistake.
He apologized. Then he didn’t.
He said he wasn’t going to make more. Then he did.
The publicity led to a demand for special orders.
“As a businessman I just thought, well, I’ll just make them for them,” he said.
Bellingham said he has since sold “a couple thousand.”
“I have people from all over the country ordering them,” he said. It’s $30 for a dozen, plus $15 tacked on for shipping. “Now and then I’ve had them occasionally in the case.”
A cookie from the case sells for $3.
He said “Make ’em cry again” was a recent addition.
“It came from a batch right before the Fourth of July that somebody had ordered and there were random sayings on them and one was ‘Make ’em cry again.’ I made a few extra. I just stuck them out there and didn’t think anything of it,” he said.
That is, until the bakery’s Facebook page and Yelp reviews became a firestorm of debate.
“It blew up again. Someone said that meant I wanted the children in cages on the border to cry. I thought, ‘How stupid is that?’ ” Bellingham said.
“I looked that saying up on the internet and it had to do with conservatives saying that to liberals. That’s what I understood it to mean.”
In the same case, Bellingham also had cookies frosted with rainbows during Pride month.
Sugarcoated messages are part of the bakery trade.
“We do a lot of custom work, whatever people ask us,” said Sheila Jensen, owner of Karl’s Bakery & Café, in downtown Everett. “Usually we just do flowers and pretty things … or funny memes from the internet.”
Regulars at Karl’s, home of the $6 giant apple fritter, include oldsters who’ve been coming for decades and hipsters from Funko headquarters next door.
Jensen bought the long-running bakery a few years ago. “That’s what’s nice about being a small business. You can decide which direction you want to go in,” she said.
Would Jensen put anti-immigration cookies in her case?
“I would never want to offend anyone. But if people supported and wanted it, I would make it. I’m not trying to make a big statement. We’re just trying to sell bakery goods,” she said.
Bellingham said he plans to stick with ladybugs and “God Bless America” cookies.
“I think I’ve learned my lesson,” he said.