Bongo Java became world famous three times because of the discovery of a cinnamon bun that many believe looks like Mother Teresa.
The story first appeared December 1996 in Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper and was soon picked up by media outlets around the world. The “Music City Miracle” was featured on CNN, BBC, The Sun, Paul Harvey, David Letterman and in the Washington Post and (so we’ve been told) a Calcutta newspaper.
A few months after the first article appeared, Mother Teresa herself wrote us a letter objecting to the sale of merchandise featuring her image. The letter became news sensation #2, as TV cameras and newspaper reporters flocked to the cafe to see it. Bongo owner Bob Bernstein appeared on Fox News’ “Burden of Proof” to debate Mother Teresa’s attorney about copyright law — something he paid $250 an hour to learn. Bongo felt it could sell merchandise with the image of the bun as long as it didn’t use Mother Teresa’s name or claim it was her image. Her attorney, however, argued that the cafe could not use the image — thus making the dubious legal and highly miraculous claim that this bun indeed was her image.
Having the law on Bongo’s side didn’t seem to outweigh having whatever Mother Teresa had on her side. Thus, Bongo negotiated a deal to stop calling the bun “The Immaculate Confection” and instead using what her attorney preferred: NunBun™. Also, Bongo was allowed to sell a limited amount of merchandise bearing the bun’s image.
The Nun Bun™ became a national story once again in December 2005 when thieves broke into Bongo Java and stole the relic. Bernstein then appeared on Countdown with Keith Olberman among other shows.
The bun has not been recovered despite an ongoing offer of a $5,000 no-questions-asked reward for its return.