BUFFALO — Moments after Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan stepped off the podium at his introductory press conference at One Bills Drive, local baker Tim Lemke saw a golden opportunity.
"Every word he spoke, people ate right up. There was drool in the streets. I knew there had to be a way to capture that moment in a baked good," Lemke said. "And then, it hit me."
At that moment, "Rex Ryan’s Promises" were born. The football-shaped puff-pastries, dubbed by some as "Buffalo’s New Fortune Cookie," consist of only three ingredients: dough, air, and a slip of paper with a quote from Ryan’s press conference printed on it.
"It’s basically a ball of hot air," Lemke said. "I wouldn’t label the taste of it in normal terms like ‘sweet’ or ‘savory.’ It’s more like a momentary sensation of warmth and gratification. People can’t seem to get enough of it."
"They’re selling like hot cakes," he quipped.
Local food critics have been harsh in their reviews of the trendy pastry, labeling it "well-marketed, yet cheaply produced, gimmicky, and absent of any real substance." One critic noted, "Initially, it made me feel warm and full. But ultimately, it came back out the same way it went in: as a burst of hot air." Another added, "With the puffy exterior and paper slip on the inside, it’s totally predictable that a lot of people are going to choke on these things."
Despite the naysayers, Lemke remains undeterred.
"Some people might say, ‘Hey, that’s just an empty ball of dough.’ But we disagree. We see a pastry full of opportunity," he said, adding, "Other baked goods have come and gone around here, but this one just feels different."
Lemke forecasts sales to remain high throughout the offseason, spiking after April’s NFL Draft, then plateauing during training camp before dropping off around Labor Day. "At that point, we’ll hit the pumpkin-flavored stuff real hard," he said.