UP Pasty Pioneer Hopes To Benefit From British Controversy

CALUMET — A tax revolt in Great Britain is bringing new customers to a business based in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula.

A political storm erupted last week when the United Kingdom’s conservative government announced that the humble Cornish pasty — a hand-held meat and vegetable pie — would now be subject to the UK’s 20 percent value added tax.

Cornish immigrants brought the pasty (pronounced PASS-tee) to the UP in the 19th Century and it’s now a fixture of UP culture among all ethnic groups.

The same UK parliamentary action cut top tax rates band corporate taxes, fueling class warfare tensions. British media dubbed the controversy “Pasty-gate.”

The owner of a longtime online seller of homemade UP pasties, Pasty Central in Calumet, says he began to see an increase in online orders as the story migrated to the United States.

“Whenever ‘pasty’ is in the news, our Web address, Pasty.com, has waves of new visitors,” Pasty Central general manager Charlie Hopper said. “While pasties are more popular than hamburgers in the UK, we estimate less than 2 percent of America’s population even know what a pasty is. When pasty is entered into any Web browser or search engine, people automatically come to us.”

In 16 years online. Pasty Central has introduced thousands to U.P. style and Cornish pasties, with more than half million pies shipped to all 50 states from its bakery in the Keweenaw Peninsula.

The company also publishes one of the longest-running photo-conversation Web sites on the Internet, now in its 15th year of bringing “a daily glimpse of life from the U.P.”

Hopper’s enterprise also spawned an Internet Service Provider, Pasty.Net, which delivers broadband to remote areas of the Upper Peninsula — including high speed wireless service to areas where the electric grid doesn’t go.

For more information see Pasty Central at www.pasty.com.

More about Pasty-gate at this link.

The UK’s move would bring “fresh-baked takeaway items,” including pies, sausage rolls and pasties, under the country’s 20 percent value-added sales tax.

The move caused a media storm, with tabloid headlines portraying the tax as an attack by the Conservative-led government on working class life.

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