family, kindness

Bakery Birthday


One of my favorite memories from our day in New York City was the kindness surprise shown to my sister-in-law, Dee. We had been walking around the city in 14 degree temperature, our faces numb by the chill of the wind with hands long since frozen in our gloves. Our legs were stiff, but our hearts were happy as we approached our final destination: Carlo’s Bakery.

Now if you are a fan of the TLC show Cake Boss, you are probably familiar with Carlo’s Bakery, known for their sweet confectionery delights. It’s a tiny little bakery on the corner of 8th Avenue and 42nd Street right along the fringes of Times Square. (There are other locations in NJ and around NY, but this was the closest to our travels.)
The place was PACKED! Just trying to open the door was a challenge as people were lined up from wall-to-wall, but it was exciting to finally mark another item off our must-see bucket list!


They had a small glass window where you could peek in at the bakers and cake decorators as they prepared items for purchase. Oh, how I wish photos could capture aromas! There is no sweeter smell than that of freshly baked treats!



The cases of delicacies stretched across the entire front of the store. Cakes. Cannolis. Cookies. Brownies. What a perfect place to celebrate a birthday! Such an endless array of options!





My personal favorite – the black and white cookie – a shout out for all the Seinfeld fans out there!
Every now and again there was a worker who would hop on the corner of the checkout stand and shout to the crowd in a fun and jovial way. The crowd would shout back and for just a moment you forgot that you were in a crowded city of strangers – everyone felt like family.
As the line inched forward, I tried to plan out my birthday surprise for my sister-in-law. I pondered what to do to make her day even sweeter when another worker approached me to take my order.
“Do you do anything special for birthdays?” I asked.
It was a simple inquiry, one without expectation, but the smile on the worker’s face let me know that he had an idea of something he could do.
“What’s her name?” he questioned.
“Her name is Dee and today is her actual birthday!” I replied.
I pointed to my sister-in-law in her long red coat, her attention drawn to the cupcakes in front of her, and the worker nodded, then returned to the business of placing my order.
I had no idea what to expect, but there was an energy of anticipation as I waited to see what, if anything, would happen.
I didn’t have to wait long.
Without warning, the other worker hopped back on top of the counter again and shouted to the crowd.
“Anybody in here have a birthday today? Where’s Dee?”
I fumbled with my phone as I tried to capture all the fun of the moment, my sister-in-law completely surprised as the entire shop wished her a happy birthday. I panned around and the one thing that struck me about all the strangers packed like sardines in this tiny bake shop was this:
Everyone was smiling.
It was a simple act of kindness, from Carlo’s Bakery to us, but – wow – what an impact it had on our day! Check out the video to see it all unfold!

Their kindness continued as they made special arrangements to meet the needs of my niece who has a peanut allergy. Then, when Dee’s name was called to pick up her purchases, they presented her with an extra cannoli – free of charge! What a delightful birthday surprise!

Shortly after our visit to Carlo’s Bakery we made the long trek home with our sweet treats to share. Our joy continued the entire way; a reminder that we mattered, even in a crowded corner bake shop in the city.

Check back throughout the month of January when I spotlight various acts of kindness in the city. I would love for you to comment below with your experiences, too! 


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