To Win the Food Cart Wars, Roasted Chestnut Vendors Might Consider Renovations

Now this guy knows how to hawk a chestnut.

As the carols are cranked in your local Duane Reade and those leaves are really starting to leave us – our many London plane trees are barer by far this week– we’re reminded that it’s roasted chestnut season, as it has been for more than a century in cities around the world lucky enough to have street vendors.

These days the nuts don’t seem like such a, um, hot commodity what with all the dumpling, cupcake and dosa carts around town, but maybe that’s because they need to work on their branding and corporate image.

Witness the great lengths that the Italian marron glacé vendors go to – check the chestnutty décor and elegant display built by the guy here, who sells 10 for 5E at the foot of the Spanish Steps in Rome. Okay, the Italians do have a few years on us in terms of practice in these types of arts, but our sellers do have some history behind them, and we tell their story in the current issue of Edible Manhattan.

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Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.