Ignitable cakes, sweatshirts and more. Travis Kelce, Taylor Swift gear flies off store shelves
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An ignitable cake burns away a Kansas City Chiefs logo to reveal pop superstar Taylor Swift ‘s image underneath. Prayer candles feature the Grammy winner and her star tight end boyfriend Travis Kelce. Sweatshirts are emblazoned with “Kelce’s Best Catch” and “Go Kansas City Swiftie.”
With the Chiefs preparing to face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Kansas City’s fourth Super Bowl appearance in five years, stores can hardly keep in stock any of the caps, sweatshirts and other odds and ends (some odder than others) commemorating the sports and pop crossover romance.
Highlights of their courting are featured in the merch. On tour in Buenos Aires, for instance, Swift changed a lyric in her song “Karma” from “Karma is the guy on the screen” to “Karma is the guy on the Chiefs.” Now Karma sweatshirts are proliferating, part of the surge of Chiefs merchandise hitting store shelves in Kansas City and far beyond.
“I think it’s amazing,” said Katie Mabry van Dieren, owner of Shop Local KC, which sells merchandise made by local artists, including the Karma sweatshirts. “I have never shipped so many items from our stores to different states.”
She said she thought the busiest weekend would be when Kansas City hosted the NFL draft in April. But she said Swift’s The Eras Tour concert stop at Arrowhead Stadium over the summer blew that away.
The July concert also was what set the stage for the relationship. Kelce was thwarted in his effort to woo the superstar with a friendship bracelet. But the romantic gesture, and public admission of defeat on his “New Heights” podcast, caught Swift’s attention nonetheless. It also fueled a hot market for Chiefs-themed friendship bracelets.
“I hope Taylor and Travis stay together forever,” van Dieren said. “That would be great for us.”
About 73% of adults say they plan to watch the game this year, about 10% higher than in recent previous years. And the romance that has been dominating headlines throughout the NFL season might be helping drive interest.
The “Taylor Bowl” is what Maddie Schmitz, owner of Something Sweet by Maddie Lou in the Minneapolis suburb of Coon Rapids, is calling this Sunday’s contest in Las Vegas.
The self-described Swiftie is behind the ignitable, so-called burn-away cakes. She uses an edible image printer with edible inks to print the Chiefs- and Swift-themed images on two sheets of — you guessed it — edible paper.
“A lot of women are ordering these, in secret and then bringing them to the Super Bowl party to surprise their husbands because it is a whole Chiefs-themed cake on the outside, but then on the inside reveals the Taylor Swift love that all of the females seem to have for her,” Schmitz said.
She isn’t the only romance confectioner. Dolce Bakery, in the suburb of Prairie Village, Kansas, has an entire “Swiftie Collection” of heart-shaped cakes it is hawking.
Pre-game news conferences are sprinkled with questions about the songstress.
After Swift earned her fourth career Grammy for album of the year on Sunday, Kelce vowed that he has to “bring home some hardware.” Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked a few times about Swift, who was front-and-center in the stands when Kelce scored a touchdown while leading the Chiefs to a 17-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC title game.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said the city has been lucky to have experienced the economy jolt. “She is welcome,” he said in a pre-playoff statement, “to stay forever.”
Anything Swift wears is particularly hot. For instance, a ring bearing Kelce’s jersey No. 87 is backordered after it was spotted on Swift’s finger.
The ring’s maker, Emily Bordner, from eb & Company, suspects that Donna Kelce bought the ring for her son’s star-studded sweetheart. The Kansas City store also gave the superstar of NFL moms (her oldest son, Jason Kelce, is a center for the Philadelphia Eagles) a pair of sold-out earrings bearing her youngest’s number on a Chiefs jersey. Swift has since been spotted wearing those, too.
It’s been all hands on deck ever since, with Bordner’s husband, mother and all her friends enlisted to help out.
“Bananas,” she said. “It’s been absolutely bananas. I don’t think I’ve ever worked this hard in my entire life, hands down. Absolutely not.”
At Westside Storey, it all started when Swift placed an order last fall. She later was spotted wearing a hat and sweatshirt the Kansas City boutique sent her, recalled Chris Harrington, the store’s owner. He said he initially thought the flood of business would be short-lived, just a fun story to share when the mania ebbed.
“People talk about the Taylor Swift effect, and you hear about it or read about it or whatever, but to like, personally experience it, you know, is is another level,” he said, adding that it is “almost becoming like an identity of the store.”
The store generally does well when the Chiefs do, but this year is far busier than other recent Super Bowl years. Harrington credits the couple’s star power, saying it has elevated everything to a “global level.” Often, he added, customers are on a mission.
“They were sent from their sister in Philadelphia to just buy a product in the store that Taylor shopped at,” he said. “So it’s crazy.”
He acknowledges that “everybody has an opinion” on the romance. But, he adds: “I love it for a million reasons.”
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Vancleave reported from Coon Rapids, Minnesota.
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