Local

Activists Protest Bakery Over ‘Crack’ Bar, Remarks About Humboldt Park

TipsyCake

The TipsyCake bakery location at 1043 N. California Ave. (Credit: CBS)

Featured & Trending:

Latest News Headlines:

Get Breaking News First

Receive News, Politics, and Entertainment Headlines Each Morning.
Sign Up

Updated 02/23/12 – 7:30 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Members of the Latino community in the Humboldt Park neighborhood are not the slightest bit amused by a bakery’s choice of names for one of its desserts.

Community members were protesting the TipsyCake Bakery, at 1944 N. Damen Ave. on a trendy strip in the Bucktown neighborhood. They were taking issue with a pastry called the “Humboldt crack bar.”

Surrounded by upscale pastries, it’s marketed as a caramel slice, but its nickname, “Humboldt crack bar,” leaves a sour taste in the mouths of many in the neighborhood.

The confection features a coconut crust, a layer of caramel filling with Australian golden syrup, and chocolate ganache. In a YouTube video that had been posted on the City Soles website, owner Naomi Levine explained, “it’s nicknamed crack, because in Humboldt Park, the cops would knock on the door and ask to taste the crack.” The video has since been removed from the City Soles website.

Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) said “to have comments like this that don’t help move our community forward is, not only just irritating, but it’s disgusting.”

TipsyCake has operated a commercial kitchen in Humboldt Park for six years, but only recently moved its storefront to Bucktown.

“There were just too many gunshots in the cake, so we decided to move,” Levine said in the video. “We did have some very upscale clients in Humboldt Park, but with Bucktown, nobody would be too scared.”

Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th) said, “What is offensive is that she made these remarks, thinking that she’s being cute, but what she’s doing is offending a community that has embraced her so that she can make a living.”

Activists are also angry about the video interview Levine did about her bakery. They held a protest outside the bakery in Humboldt Park Thursday afternoon, calling for a boycott, and demanding a public apology from Levine that “counteracts her racist portrayal of Humboldt Park.”

Levine could not be reached for comment. The Facebook page for her bakery posted a lengthy apology in response to the controversy.

“Where I hope this message and my apology is received by all of those that were offended from my comments, I also hope it is received and acknowledged by the few callers that have made threats of violence,” the statement said. “While I do not expect that every single person that was offended will accept my apology, I would like everyone to know that your comments on social media were received and educated me as to the mistakes I have made, which guided me to issue this apology.”

The aldermen acknowledged that Humboldt Park has its problems, but said Levine’s comments do nothing to help solve those problems or improve the image of the neighborhood where she runs her bakery.

“Are you going to be part of the problem, or are you going to be part of the solution?” Moreno said.

Humboldt Park businessman Gino Battaglia said the neighborhood has changed dramatically in the past 12 years that he’s been there and has become much safer than it used to be.

He said he doesn’t think Levine’s assessment of the neighborhood is realistic.

Battaglia said he owns seven buildings in the neighborhood, including 45 apartment units. His tenants also include a coffee shop and a wine bar with a sidewalk café.

“They, for the last two years, they’ve never experienced any problems,” he said.

Levine’s comments are disturbing, not only to the neighborhood’s Puerto Rican community, but the many businesses who are trying hard to revitalize the area.

“Why she made those remarks, you know, it doesn’t matter,” said Coco Restaurant owner Jose Allende. “People do take those remarks, and might not come back over here.”

The aldermen said, if Levine had problems, she never contacted them, and never attended area CAPS meetings to help fight crime.

Levine could not be reached for comment. The Facebook page for her bakery posted a lengthy apology in response to the controversy.

“Where I hope this message and my apology is received by all of those that were offended from my comments, I also hope it is received and acknowledged by the few callers that have made threats of violence,” the statement said. “While I do not expect that every single person that was offended will accept my apology, I would like everyone to know that your comments on social media were received and educated me as to the mistakes I have made, which guided me to issue this apology.”