REHOBOTH BEACH – It’s hard to stroll down Rehoboth Avenue’s ocean block without spotting a “Rehoboth Beach” T-shirt, glistening caramel corn or hot fries splashed with vinegar. But these longtime seaside staples have some stiff competition: Joe Biden-themed goods.
[caption id="attachment_212377" align="aligncenter" width="732"] American Bandstand by Erick Sahler | PHOTO COURTESY OF M SQUARED[/caption]
Indeed, presidential merchandise was on full display June 4-6 when the Bidens visited their North Shores home together for the first time since taking office, celebrating first lady Jill Biden’s birthday.In Biden’s honor, the Ice Cream Store renamed a flavor. “White House Cherry” — made with maraschino cherries and Madagascar vanilla beans — is now “Biden’s Summer White House Cherry” and includes fruit juice for telltale coloring.The Bidens have yet to try it. “All of us were hoping he would visit downtown, but, you know, it was Jill’s birthday,” owner Chip Hearn said. “It wasn’t a good time.”But the Biden’s summer home — and their fondness for the Nation’s Summer Capital — have been good for business.Christmas Spirit, a holiday-themed store, is running low on hand-painted sand dollars that pay tribute to Biden. “They’ve been selling like crazy,” sales associate Judy Schrader saidOne sand dollar sports a Santa Claus wearing the president’s signature aviator sunglasses. Another is adorned with red and blue stars, along with the sunglasses. “Biden” is painted across one lens.At M Squared, a Rehoboth Avenue gift shop, customers are paying $24.99 for a grinning Biden “action figure.” (Presumably, he’s suited up for a filibuster.)“We’ve sold so many!” owner Meghan Fruchtman said. “We also have some really cool artwork from a local artist that is selling like crazy as well.”Artist Erick Sahler’s signed serigraphs feature Biden in a convertible cruising by the Rehoboth bandstand. “Ridin’ with Biden” is printed across the top. “The Summer White House” shows the front of the First Family’s beach home.Bobbleheads and life-sized cardboard cutouts now are plentiful. But Biden-related products were in Browseabout Books’ inventory long before he entered the White House.“We have carried the Bidens’ books since their publication dates, so some of them for many years,” owner Susan Kehoe said, noting that “Promises to Keep” was released in 2007.The shop, which has hosted book signings for both Joe and Jill Biden, also carries a children’s picture book about Champ and Major, the Bidens’ German shepherds. Customers can also purchase a Champ and Major jigsaw puzzle and Champ and Major socks. The pooches have proved popular. A signing for the children’s book attracted 500 attendees.
[caption id="attachment_212375" align="alignright" width="376"] Bidendoll | PHOTO COURTESY OF M SQUARED[/caption]
After the Bidens adopted Major in 2018, Browseabout began donating $1 from the sale of every Major or Champ item to the Delaware Humane Association. “We love that we have been able to bring more attention to DHA and its mission,” Kehoe said.Like Hearn’s ice cream, there are also tasty tributes. At Double Dippers in Rehoboth Beach, you can order the “46 Special.” The chocolate-chip ice cream comes in a waffle cone. You can also buy it by the quart.In Biden’s pre-presidential days, when it was simply the “All American Cone,” the flavor was his “go-to,” owner Joe Mack said.On Baltimore Avenue, Lori’s Oy Vey! Café put “The Bidens” on the sandwich menu. “It’s been selling like hotcakes,” owner Lori Kline reported.Half is Joe’s favorite: albacore tuna salad with onions and pickle relish. The other half is Jill’s favorite: chicken salad with crumbled blue cheese, apples and almonds.Moving into the thick of the season, expect more products in beach-area businesses. Hearn, who also owns Peppers in Lewes, isn’t sure if he’ll create a Biden-themed hot sauce. But the odds are that he might, if only for the press.“That weekend brought so much publicity,” he said of the Bidens’ recent visit. “I look at it as a major positive.”