UPPER WEST SIDE — A Southern tradition is taking hold on the streets of the Upper West Side that has residents dancing, getting silly — and digging into cake by the forkful.
Momofuku Milk Bar owner Christina Tosi, known for adding her Virginia flair into popular bakery items like Crack Pie, has taken her zest for all things Southern a step further by bringing the region's traditional "cakewalk" to the Big Apple.
A cakewalk "is a really fun version of musical chairs," explained Milk Bar rep Seana Quental. "It's part of fairs, and it’s something that everyone comes out for."
Either on the street or in the store, depending on the weather, the chairs are grouped with one for every person. Then the music begins, and when it stops the person sitting above a picture of the signature birthday cake — a 6-inch high $38 creation — gets to take one home for free.
"We ask you to be really silly and dance around the chairs," Quental said. "We get a lot of laughs out of everyone."
The activity also plays into the Momofuku's emphasis on whimsy — from its Funfetti-inspired cookies to its cereal milk ice cream, she explained.
During the summer, the cakewalks happen once every Saturday at 1 p.m. But with families being the bakery's main demographic on the Upper West Side, patrons will have more chances to win this fall. In Septemeber, they will take place three times each Saturday, at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
And though the game is also happening at Milk Bar's Carroll Gardens location, "at the Upper West Side store, we get way more of a competitive spirit," Quental said.
The cakewalks typically attract five to 10 people a session, depending on the weekend, meaning the chances of winning are good, she added.
"It seems like everyone who is in NYC wants to do this, but when it actually comes to the day of the cakewalk, the turnout is not as large," she said.
But that doesn't mean winners get to have their cake and eat it, too.
"Sometimes they’ll take a knife and just share the cake with everyone participating," Quental added. "There’s a lot of generosity and a lot of community."