Hey, What’s the Deal With... is a new City Pages series that asks: Hey, what’s the deal with that?
Many of us here at City Pages HQ hail from south Minneapolis near A Baker’s Wife, a warm spot we hold close to where our hearts once resided.
If you, like us, have made your midsections doughy thanks to pastries from this Standish neighborhood stronghold, it’d be easy to take for granted the quaintness of the Holstein cow next to its wrought-iron bench, or the sketch of a rolling pin against a Heinz-yellow background on the establishment’s namesake sign. But really, what’s the deal with the enormous Ys on the standalone “bakery” signs?
The last letter of these bakery signs looms, by the uninformed eye’s estimate, 175 percent larger than their counterparts. Please note that this happens not just once, but twice, meaning the chances of it being a mistake are slim. Or: If it were, it was replicated!
In an attempt to get to the bottom of this conspiracY, City Pages contacted Olga Shogren of A Baker’s Wife. “Oh yeah. I have no idea,” she laughed. “We took over the business three years ago and many people ask us this question.”
Fact: The giant Y’s are older than your toddler.
“I don’t know if was put up by the previous owner, because the bakery has been around for, like, 28 years probably, and before that, this place was also a bakery space. So maybe it was put up even back then.”
By that point in our conversation, Shogren, too, was hooked on the chase. While she volunteered to do some sleuthing on her own time, we cased the joint IRL [read: we needed a doughnut]. Doing so revealed a sticker on one of the signs bearing the name of local sign company Schad-Tracy.
Via phone, Schad-Tracy’s Rick Ballantyne sounded befuddled when the signs weren’t ringing any bells. “I’ve been here for 24 years, but... I’ll see what I can find in our archives. It might take a little bit because they’re up in the rafters.” Just before signing off he acquiesced, “We don’t want mysteries!”
After a few days and “a bunch of digging,” Ballantyne responded with anti-answers: “We cannot find any paperwork on this location. [The owners] do not remember this job at all, and with the tall Y they think they would have remembered that. We are thinking that someone used one of our raceways [a technical term for a very specific sign part, which here means ‘we didn’t really do this’] and installed some letters on the raceway and that is why our name is on it.”
When we revisited the subject with Shogren, she informed us that she, too, had come up empty: “Still no new info. All I know is that it had been put up this way 30 years ago,” she said, repeating promises to let us know if she hears from previous owners.
Ultimately, in this digital age, when so little remains unknown, perhaps the hazy origin of A Baker’s Wife’s wonky signage is actually a rarity? Maybe the Why’s of Y’s simply aren’t always answerable, which makes them all the more fun in this (harmless) circumstance?
And yet, dear reader, this is where you choose how this story ends. If you, like Ballantyne, aren’t prone to enjoying mysteries, please do send us any clues you may have about the origin of the bakery’s giant Y’s. This should include shameful confessions of how your childhood friend threw rocks at the sign, only for the new Y to grow back monstrously larger—a pet theory with, admittedly, zero legs.
We, uh, not-so-secretly still wanna know the deal...
In Hey, What’s the Deal With... we’re tackling everyday oddities, random curiosities, and what-the-actual-fuck mysteries about life in the Twin Cities. Got a pressing but somewhat trivial Q about something you saw, heard, or thought about while stuck in traffic? Email [email protected], and our crack investigative team just might try to figure it out.
Previously in Hey, What's the Deal With...