Cookie lady gives "Bronze Fonz" a thumbs up
Jessica Radke loves The Fonz.
"I was in the second grade when I first saw 'Happy Days' and the Fonz. I was overwhelmed by it, and got attached immediately," she says.
So when Radke heard Visit Milwaukee was raising money to build a bronze Fonz statue in Downtown Milwaukee, she wanted to contribute. With cookies, that is.
Radke's family owns the Bon Ton Bakery in Jefferson. The bakery has been in the family since 1917, making Radke the fifth generation to work there.
"I've been working there since I was tall enough to reach the bench," she says.
Radke, who is 22, and her fiancé, Josh Punzel, plan to run the bakery someday, but for now, they're focusing on making and selling Fonzie cookies. They started selling them on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 4:30 a.m., which is when Bon Ton Bakery opens for business.
The cookie, meant to look like Fonz's hand in the "thumbs up" / "aaaaaaaaaaay!" position, is a made-from-scratch sugar cookie. The recipe comes from Radke's great-grandmother. Each cookie is cut individually by hand, then frosted with bronze frosting and decorated with black icing that reads, "Bronze the FONZ!"
The cookies cost $1, with 50 cents from each cookie sold donated to the statue. Radke plans to make 250-500 Fonz cookies every day.
Radke has collected Fonz memorabilia since fifth grade, and now has more than 400 "Happy Days" items in her collection, including her first collectable, a black-and-white photo of the Fonz that she bought in a Delevan antique shop.
Today, Radke, who has won numerous "Happy Days" trivia contests, has "FONZFAN" on the license plate of her Acura.
"My parents gave me the license plate for Christmas during my junior year of high school," she says.
Radke says she's not just a fan of the Fonz, but Fonzie actor Henry Winkler, too. Winkler and his wife, Stacey Weitzman, co-founded the Children's Action Network (CAN) in 1990, an organization that has provided free immunizations to over 200,000 children. He is also involved with the Annual Cerebral Palsy Telethon, the Epilepsy Foundation of America, the annual Toys for Tots campaign, the National Committee for Arts for the Handicapped, the Special Olympics and more.
"I was amazed at how wonderful of a person he is. I was fortunate enough to meet him in June of 2004 in Milwaukee," says Radke. "The Fonz was the person that taught you that it was cool to be yourself, no matter who you are. And that's what kept me watching."
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