We are witnessing the fifth-greatest event in Ipswich history

The history of Ipswich, Massachusetts, has been shaped by a handful of colossal events — in 1634, 1764, 1911, and 1995: 

  • Masconomet sold out to Winthrop, 
  • Mr. Choate built our stone-arch bridge, 
  • the Crane family installed our beach, 
  • and EBSCO brought us jobs.

But now we can add 2021 to the list of destiny-shaping moments, because 2021 is when the Sandpiper Bakery opened on North Main Street.

It’s clear that the people of Ipswich have been suffering a dangerous shortage of simple carbs, because the arrival of Sandpiper is the biggest thing since Marty’s Donuts closed.

One windy, wicked cold morning last week, I stood in line with a multitude of other poor souls craving baked goods. The bakery’s cozy interior only accommodates four customers at a time under pandemic social-distancing rules. 

Likewise, we shivering masses on the sidewalk were barred from even huddling together for warmth. 

The Town of Ipswich will need to install some kind of weather barriers in front of Sandpiper: wintertime walls to avert hypothermia, summertime roofing to combat sunstroke. 

I also recommend assigning a traffic cop to keep order: It’s not clear if the line is supposed to snake uphill toward the Methodists or downhill toward the Christian Scientists. 

Either church, however, would do well to launch a mercy ministry for the folks furthest back in line, providing hot coffee, blankets, woolen caps, and — after Covid — warm hugs.

(Personal trainer Jen Tougas may offer a guided muscle conditioning routine for a small fee — squats, pushups, and more — to keep people from stiffening up as they wait in line.)

(Chris Florio: Please consider bringing in live music.)

In fact, a traffic cop may not be adequate. With so many people competing for a limited number of quiches and croissants, I fear fisticuffs. We may need beefy security people to keep the peace when the desperately hungry or the desperately behind-schedule try to cut in line.

Also, if — rather than choosing from the impressively varied selection in Sandpiper’s display case, you order something made-to-order — you’ll have to come back outside to wait for your order. At which point, you might need the protection of a security guard. As throngs of people stream off the street, you’re bombarded with questions and demands: 

“Are you in line?” 

“Is this the line?” 

“Are you the end of the line?” 

“How long have you been waiting?” 

Maybe we need a pop-up holding pen to separate the smug already-ordered types from the tetchy still-waiting types.

However, once you get to the front of the line and you step inside, you enter a lovely, tidy little world of scrumptious smells (and, from the workers, gracious gab). You suddenly feel elite — you’re in, everybody else is out. 

But the unfortunate side-effect is that you don’t feel like hurrying. There’s an occupancy limit but not a time limit. You can peruse and ponder and prevaricate all you want, while icicles (or cobwebs) form on the people waiting outside. 

Hmm, do I want a cinnamon bun, or coconut macaroons? The monkey bread, or the salted honey biscuits? So many choices, so little stomach space!

I feel certain that Sandpiper will need to invest in a timer system — and I strongly recommend a serious enforcement feature: Four minutes, and it zaps you. Nothing deadly, just a bit of a bolt to your backside, to get you moving along.

The Ipswich Local News recently reported that Emma Freeman lives across the street from Sandpiper and was texting her mother, Mary Bradlee, “to advise the best time to join the queue.” Emma, you could monetize this: a paid-subscription app for Sandpiper devotees, with minute-by-minute updates on the crowd size outside Sandpiper.

Looking ahead — as heaving hordes hang about Sandpiper’s simple storefront, street traffic will become an issue. Someday, I imagine, we’ll have no choice but to tear down First Church and put in a rotary.

Meanwhile, one final, earnest request to Sandpiper: 

Porta-potties. Please.


Doug Brendel lives on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts, but depends on treks into Ipswich Center for ye Stores of baked Goods, just like ye Colonists of yore. Visit Doug at DougBrendel.com.

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