Mich. Township Has Fun in Search for Hoffa

The Associated Press
Thursday, May 25, 2006; 6:42 AM

MILFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- As FBI agents search for Jimmy Hoffa's remains, businesses are relishing in their newfound notoriety, peddling everything from T-shirts to a Hoffa Steak Salad "buried under field greens with mushrooms and edible flowers."

Among the best sellers: a Hoffa cupcake at the Milford Baking Company, which features a plastic green hand emerging from chocolate-flavored sprinkles and frosting meant to resemble dirt.

About 500 of the 95-cent cupcakes had been sold by Wednesday afternoon, with orders coming in from all over the Detroit area. One businessman waited outside the bakery at 5 a.m. to treat his co-workers, and an FBI agent ordered three dozen to take to the dig site, co-owner Laura Helwig said.

The bakery has ordered an additional 700 green hands with the expectation that demand will remain high. The FBI has said the search, which began May 17 at the Hidden Dreams horse farm, is expected to last a couple of weeks. Agents used an excavating machine Wednesday to knock down a barn.

"I never dreamed it would take off like this," Helwig said as she put icing on a batch of Detroit Pistons cookies. "We're just trying to have fun with the whole thing."

Another local business, Main Street Art, has sold more than 50 T-shirts with an ironed-on decal that reads: "The FBI Digs Milford, Do You?"

Main Street Art owner Leslie Watson said she has received orders for the $15 shirts from as far away as Virginia and Florida.

"We thought there would be interest here, but not nationally," Watson said. "We're just trying to keep up."

Business owners are quick to say they are not trying to offend but want to have a little fun with the media hoopla.

Lu & Ruby's Bar & Grill offers a $12.95 Hoffa Steak Salad "buried under field greens with mushrooms and edible flowers."

The local Dairy Queen changes its large white sign daily with new sayings. On Wednesday, it read: "Old McMaster Had A Barn EE I EE I O," referring to Rolland McMaster, a Hoffa associate who owned the farm at the time of the former Teamster leader's disappearance in 1975.

"We've been having a great time," Dairy Queen manager Joyce McNulty said. "People tell us they can't wait to drive by daily to see the new signs."

Across the street, the sign at Bakers of Milford reads "Hoffa Mile Down The Road Experienced Diggers Wanted" on one side and "Welcome To Milford Have A Hoffa Day!!" on the other.

"The whole town is abuzz," general manager Angelo Nardoni said. "But if it's got to be somewhere, why not here?"

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