Philly Preps Blessed Beer And Other Edible Swag To Greet Pope Francis
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And let's pull back to this country, where today's MORNING EDITION story list includes an item headlined, holy beer and bobble heads. It's a story of souvenirs being prepared for sale to mark next month's visit of Pope Francis to the United States. You too will be able to purchase a lot more than rosary beads. One of the pope's destinations is Philadelphia, which is where we find Katie Colaneri of our member station WHYY.
KATIE COLANERI, BYLINE: You can find Pope Francis's face on just about anything these days, from bobble heads to pillowcases. You can even take a selfie with your own life-sized cardboard cutout. Matt Hoffman's company Bleacher Creatures has a plush pope doll that bears an uncanny resemblance to the real guy. Since hitting the market in late June, Hoffman's sold more than 50,000 at 20 bucks apiece.
MATT HOFFMAN: There's no one out there that has as many fans or followers. So I think when you do the math how many Catholics are out there and how they've been connected to the pope, it makes sense he would be our bestseller.
COLANERI: The plush pope is among the many sanctioned items being sold through Aramark, the papal visit's official retailer. But there's also a growing market for unofficial pope swag that's a bit more irreverent, like T-shirts and buttons that say, Jurassic pope and pope is dope. Or if the papal visit has you in need of a cold one, several breweries are creating craft beers just for the occasion. Evan Fritz is the head brewer at Manayunk Brewing Company. His Papal Pleasure amber ale is a nod to the pontiff's Argentine roots.
EVAN FRITZ: You know, we thought about what kind of ingredients we were going to use. We wound up using some malbec grape oak that was aged in some malbec wine from Argentina and some South American candy sugar as well.
COLANERI: If you're wondering whether a pint of Papal Pleasure would be delicious or sacrilegious, know that all of the brewing water was blessed by a local priest. Still, it may seem a strange impulse to honor a pope made popular by his humility by putting more stuff into the world just to make a quick buck. Some merchandisers are donating part of their profits to religious charities. Others are in it just for fun, to toast the pope - literally.
Debby Fireman is selling a special toaster with metal inserts like stencils that brand Pope Francis's face onto the bread. Fireman says she just couldn't resist jumping into the papal marketplace.
DEBBY FIREMAN: Celebrating the fact that he's coming to our city as well as just being able to create a little bit of a miracle on toast.
COLANERI: Her dream is to team up with the South Philly deli selling pope-shaped mozzarella for a heavenly grilled cheese. But the window on pope mania is closing.
FIREMAN: It really is a short window. It's sort of right now and then when the visitors are here and then maybe a little bit of buzz following when they leave. But then it's onto the next thing.
COLANERI: The Dalai Lama arrives in Philadelphia exactly one month after Pope Francis leaves town. So who knows what will end up on T-shirts, neckties or toast next? For NPR News, I'm Katie Colaneri. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.