This NYC Bakery Takes Food Porn to a Whole New Level

This NYC Bakery Takes Food Porn to a Whole New Level

by Bailey Richards

Breakfast in bed takes on a whole new meaning with Sugar Wood’s R-rated waffles, which have been satisfying long lines of customers since the bakery’s (not so) soft opening last month. The sexy sweets come in two anatomically correct varieties: the vagina-shaped “Kitty” and penis-shaped “Woody.” The NSFWaffles, which were created by queer celebrity baker Tom Smallwood, can be ordered naked (the waffles, not you) or, if you like things a little wetter, with a drizzle of everything from caramel to white chocolate.

From its TikTok-dancing employees to its penis nose mural, all it takes is one step into Sugar Wood’s SoHo storefront to see that the company is all about fun, but its tantalizing treats do a little more than just make people smile. The bakery created Kitty and Woody to destigmatize sex, disrupt the gender binary and provide monetary support to the LGBTQ+ community; Sugar Wood donates at least $5,000 of its monthly revenue to The Phluid Phoundation, which supports over 20 LGBTQ+ charities.

Sugar Wood co-founder and CEO Austin Allan gave PAPER some sweet tidbits about the origins of Woody and Kitty, the future of the confections and what songs customers can expect to hear on the bakery’s sexy in-store playlist.

Where did the idea of penis- and vagina-shaped waffles originate? What about the name Sugar Wood?

The idea for Sugar Wood came from traveling and seeing phallic food items around the world — penis-shaped baguettes in Paris, penis cookies in San Francisco, penis-shaped wine bottles in Napa Valley and penis and vagina waffles in Europe and Latin America. We wanted to bring the craze to New York, and we thought that a queer spin would make them native to our city. To do the rest, we enlisted the help of incredibly talented people: Guillermo Ovies from the Brooklyn-based studio Soga Design created the name, logo, brand identity and store interiors. In-demand graphic artist Braulio Amado designed a mural wall featuring famous New Yorkers with penis noses, and Tom Swallwood of Magnolia Bakery and Spring Baking Championship (just aired on the Food Network) crafted the waffle and sauce recipes.

Your (not so) soft opening was last month — what has the response been like so far?

The response has been overwhelming, and we've found that customers who come into the store in response to all the buzz are surprised by what they find. The shop is intended to be an experience, and when people who saw us online come in, they're treated to a full show in the store — jokes, innuendos, dripping sauces and genuinely delicious desserts. Our sales have been steadily increasing, and now we have a line outside the door every day. What's been most surprising is our success on social media. We worked with Rob Anderson on a special partnership, and his TikTok earned nearly a million views in less than a day. Our videos, as well as content created by NYC discovery accounts like SecretNYC, have garnered over 5 million views. I'm still trying to wrap my head around that. We're also finding that our success on social media is self-driving: Customers visit us because they saw the store online, and then they create new content once they're here.

What would you say to someone who is skeptical of a food item being able to reject the gender binary and spread sex positivity in a significant way?

I disagree with anyone who says that our products reinforce the gender binary — or anyone who thinks our products can't deconstruct it. Having a penis or vagina doesn't make you a man or a woman, and inherent in Sugar Wood's sex-positivity is the disassociation of gentilia with gender expression. Our customers can choose whichever waffle their hearts desire, and we often joke that "we don't judge and don't tell" whenever a customer is having a hard time choosing between a Woody or Kitty. We want everyone who walks through our door to feel comfortable, welcome, safe and free to be who they are.

Why did you decide to partner with The Phluid Phoundation, specifically?

Our brand was founded with three simple goals: To provide our customers with levity, not harm the planet and give back. We all know that food crazes can become insanely popular in New York, and we hoped to build a storefront that could transform those successes into actionable support for marginalized communities. It was important for us to give a portion of our profits to LGBTQ+ causes, namely housing for LGBTQ youth and houseless people, suicide prevention and trans rights. The Phluid Phoundation is a perfect match because they allow us to spread our resources across organizations and issues. Rather than give to one cause, the Phluid Phoundation channels its funding into an array of charities serving the LGBTQ+ community's most vulnerable members, namely the BIPOC transgender community and the growing homeless LGBTQ+ population.

Back in February when I was presenting the Sugar Wood project to a former boss of mine from the CPG industry, he stopped me within the first few minutes to say: "I love this. I can tell that you have poured every fiber of your being and experience — as a marketer and brand builder, but also as a gay man — into this project." Those words still resonate with me and help guide every decision that we make about the brand. So, when I was introduced to Rob Smith from Phluid Phoundation, I knew it was a perfect pairing.

What songs are on the Sugar Wood in-store playlist/ rotation?

Aside from food, music is my other big passion in life, so the playlist had to be an integral part of the Sugar Wood experience. We have classics like George Michael's "I Want Your Sex." (I begged my mom to buy me the cassette single when I was six years old and, miraculously, she did.) Salt n Pepa's "Shoop," Lil Kim's "How Many Licks?," and Madonna's "Erotica." (One of my all-time favorite songs.) We've got current tracks like Shygirl's "Freak" (I'm lowkey obsessed with Shygirl), City Girls feat. Doja Cat's "Pussy Talk," Jazmine Sullivan's "On It," Kim Petras' "Coconuts," and, of course, "WAP."

We know you’re just getting started, but what’s next for Sugar Wood — are there any new dough or sauce flavors on the horizon? New body parts?

We are working on adding menu items that are vegan and gluten-free, colder treats like ice cream pops and popsicles, and more fruit-forward sauce recipes. We purposefully started with a limited menu, but our goal is to expand our offerings before the summer is over. We are also beginning to plan additional locations in other parts of the country. We haven't ruled out introducing other shapes as well.

Photos courtesy of Sugar Wood