Mario Nucci, who popularized the Persian, dead at 86

Mario Nucci, the man who put Thunder Bay's signature pastry, the Persian, on the map died Thursday at the age of 86.

Local businessman took Thunder Bay's signature pastry 'to the next level,' says fellow baker

The Persian is a popular local pastry that is essentially a deep-fried cinnamon bun covered with strawberry-flavoured pink icing. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Mario Nucci, the man who put Thunder Bay's signature pastry, the Persian, on the map died Thursday at the age of 86.

The Persian is essentially a cinnamon bun, deep fried, with a unique strawberry-flavoured pink icing on top.

The taste is like nothing else, says local baker Julie Einerson.

"It's a staple of Thunder Bay," she said. "It's a symbol, in a way, of our city and our community, and comfort food eating habits." 

According to urban legend, the pastry was created some time after the First World War and was named after a U.S. general named John Pershing, who fought in the war.

Mario Nucci owned a chain of popular coffee shops in Thunder Bay called The Persian Man as well as Nucci's Bake-a-Deli and Bennett's Bakery. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Nucci's love of the pastry spawned a chain of coffee shops in the city called The Persian Man. Nucci also owned Nucci's Bake-a-Deli and Bennett's Bakery.

One of the many locals who knew Nucci and was aware of his impact on the community is Sandy Shaw.

He is the former owner of the Shaw Baking Company, one of Nucci's competitors, which also sold Persians. 

"Nucci took it to the next level," Shaw said.

A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at St. Anthony's Church. 

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