A Mahwah family may have found the secret weapon behind the NY Giants’ Super Bowl victory – crumb cake made at Lotito’s Deli in Ramsey. And now, the cake might be helping to catapult the Mahwah High School Thunderbirds toward their first state championship in over 30 years.
Known as the “Crumb Cake of Champions,” the sweet treat was originally handed out to the Giants players and coaches as a ‘thank you’ from the Accurso family, whose son, 9-year-old Vinny, suffers from pulmonary hypertension, a life-threatening lung disorder. After hearing about Vin’s condition, Coach Tom Coughlin invited the family to a Giants practice last season. They brought the crumb cake as a present for the team.
After the Giants won their next game, the Accursos started receiving positive feedback from the team’s players and crew, and some staff members began frequenting to deli to buy the crumb cake.
During a conversation with Coughlin, Nadine said she’d keep sending crumb cake if the team kept winning. The Giants went on to be crowned Super Bowl champions.
Coincidence? The Accursos think not.
“We are really big on karma and all of that stuff,” Nadine Accurso said.
The Giants also seemed to think the crumb cake may have had something to do with their success.
Coach Coughlin sent Vin Accurso a personalized Christmas card, signed Super Bowl Program, and one of the three original coin toss Super Bowl coins, Nadine said.
This season, the Accursos decided the crumb cake might hold the same luck for the Thunderbirds. Ever since the Mahwah football team started eating the “Crumb Cake of Champions,” they haven’t lost a game. The team is heading into the playoffs Friday with an 8-1 record.
"I think [the players] are a little superstitious," MHS football coach Jeff Remo said Friday morning. "They think it helps. It’s definitely an interesting thing."
Remo said the team is three games away from its first state sectional title since 1981.
"We believe we can win," he said. “They are a good football team.”
Vin, who loves football but can’t play, has been an honorary member of Mahwah football teams since his brothers started playing in the mid-2000s. Last year, Mahwah athletes, enthusiasts and the rest of the community came together to support Vin during a purple-out game that raised money and spread awareness about PH. The idea of giving back has stayed with the family ever since.
Earlier this season, the Accursos realized the magic crumb cake might be good for more than touchdowns. They are hoping it might bring luck to other kids with Vin’s condition.
The family has founded Baking for a Cure, which sells the crumb cake to raise money for the Pulmonary Hypertension Center at Columbia Presbyterian, Morgan Stanley NY Children's Hospital, where Vin gets treated.
Nadine said none of this would have been possible without last year’s Purple Out game in Mahwah. The media attention the game attracted prompted the Giants to invite Vin, she said.
“Those kids need to know the impact they had,” Nadine said. "They did something nice for Vin, and look what it created."
While the Accursos have already started to raise money from their charity, they say their ultimate goal is to open a mobile bakery that they will take to childrens’ hospitals across the country. The bakery will not only raise money and spread awareness, but will teach kids in hospitals how to bake the crumb cake - a fun, unique experience for them.
Though she won't give out her crumb cake recipe, Nadine, her husband Frank, their other two sons and daughter, and all of the supporters they have met along the way agree that Vin is the secret ingredient.
“There’s a reason we are all here,” Nadine said. “There’s a reason God chose for us to go through this – it’s Vin and his personality. He’s magnetic and he has an amazing impact on people.”