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Toilet paper cakes serve up a slice of humor in trying times

Manca's Catering in Seattle sells the cakes for $40.

SEATTLE — Once impossible to find in stores, toilet paper is now a piece of cake to buy from Manca's Catering in Seattle.

The small family-owned catering company started selling limited-edition toilet paper cakes to stay afloat, and the response has been more than they hoped for.

"It has been incredible,” said owner Andrea Manca. “Everyone has loved them so much and I think it just lightens people's day a little bit, in such a serious time."

The pandemic has been a very serious time for Manca and her husband/business partner Taylor Lehmann.

They bought the 30-year-old catering company from her parents last year. Then three months ago, they celebrated the birth of their son Logan and watched all of their event bookings disappear, almost simulatenously.

“(Within) a couple days,” Lehmann said. “The doctors were talking about it in the delivery room, like this could be real bad."

Credit: Kim Holcomb
Andrea Manca, Taylor Lehmann and their son Logan, who was born right before the stay-at-home orders went into effect.

But they weren't going to give up. Manca’s pivoted to takeout meal service, selling complete dinners for pick-up or delivery.

They also added the item that now makes up 40-percent of their sales: toilet paper cakes, recognizing birthdays and holidays with the unofficial symbol of the pandemic.

"I went to a grocery store and I said out loud, 'Why is this aisle empty?' And this lady goes, 'Toilet paper,’” Manca laughed.

The cakes cost $40 and come in different flavors. Manca has the background in baking and Lehmann provides the artistry, turning fondant into pleated and uniform “rolls.”

They’ve sold anywhere from 20-30 cakes a week, all through word-of-mouth.

"This amazing business that's been built over years has to stay alive, Manca's has to keep going and we will keep going,” Manca said. "Just trying to make people laugh right now, ride out the storm."

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