Dr. And Mrs. Marc Martel
ORONO, MINNESOTA: Marc and Jaime Martel are perhaps the most unique of collectors in that they have collected every single Di Camillo Bakery jar—but have no interest in collecting anything else. “I have some sports memorabilia,” says Dr. Martel “but my—our—passion is collecting Di Camillo jars.”
At present The Martel family has “at least sixty—maybe sixty-five” Di Camillo Bakery jars in their new home in Minnesota.
Dr. Martel, who is originally from Niagara Falls, claims that it is “still the family’s home-base” and whose family lived here until November 2006, remembers “When I was a teenager, seeing the Jars in the big windows of Di Camillo’s”. Then, “Once I was a young adult I saw the jars again, and it reminded me of my late grandfather (Philip Paonessa) who always had Di Camillo coupons and notes to himself to buy Di Camillo’s Bread”.
“So these childhood memories of Niagara Falls—my parents grew up on 30th Street, and my great-grandfather was a city councilman—were combined with those of Di Camillo Bakery and I just wanted to take and keep a part of both with me. The jars seem to do that!”
However it was several years before Marc and Jaime started collecting in earnest. Per Jaime: “So fast forward to 2013, Marc’s grandma’s (Florence Paonessa) 90th birthday party in Niagara Falls. If there is one thing you should know it is that I LOVE my husband, there isn't much that I wouldn't do for him. We all rented a house to stay at while we were out there in Niagara Falls and there were a whole lot of loud Italians under one roof. It was brought to my husband’s attention (again!) at how ‘cheap’ he was-- and that he did not have a biscotti jar. He decided that this was the time, the time we were finally getting a jar. I have one question I ask before someone purchases something- do you love it?”
“As we sat at grams and gramps table eating our DiCamillo doughnuts discussing how we were going to get our hands on a jar before flying back to Minnesota Marc just kept telling me how much he loved the blue and white ones.”
“But earlier when we were picking up doughnuts and inquiring about purchasing a jar the woman at the Bakery who was helping us told us there weren't any for sale and we would have to speak with Michael. Once we talked to Michael Di Camillo, we were on our way!” Admittedly, Jaime says she did have to stalk Michael a little bit. There were only two of the jars Marc was interested in, left in the collection.
“So in short, we bought our first jar in August 2013,” they recall. “Jaime hunted it down for my grandmother’s 90th birthday party in Niagara Falls, and that’s how the collection started.”
As for their favorite Di Camillo jar, for Jaime, it is the original, mostly because of the journey and the memory. For Marc, “it’s a three-way tie between The Jug with the Cork—I love the idea of cross-pollination of olive oil with biscotti--, Il Tropheo (The Trophy), and the four-legged soup-tureen.”
The Martel’s have three daughters, Asha, Olivia, and Adelin who “all think that we, their parents, are a little nuts,” but “at the same time they all enjoy the Di Camillo bread we have delivered every month!” Marc’s brother in Chicago is “a fanatic when it comes to your [Di Camillo’s] Peanut stick donuts”. In addition to their Biscotti Jar collection and monthly deliveries of Di Camillo Bread, the Martel’s also have a hands-down favorite donut: “The maple-iced apple-filled donut is the best!” they agreed.
The Martel’s recently moved into a new home where “up to nine jars are displayed at a time in the kitchen—the rest of them are in the master-bedroom.”
Now the Martel’s are to the point where “we buy the jars sight unseen! Mike [Di Camillo] knows that as soon as he’s going to launch a new jar we need to be the very first to know!”
As our discussion progressed we were interrupted by the ring of the Martel doorbell: “You’ll never believe this,” Jaime said, “four large loaves of Di Camillo bread just arrived!”