New York’s Churro Vendors in Quotations and Pictures


“In Manhattan it’s really hard to sell these. Here too, the police, sometimes they arrest you, and sometimes they threaten you–they say things,” says Ernesto, an immigrant vendor who’s been selling churros underground for two years.

In this week’s Village Voice, I cover the people behind New York’s black-market churro economy. Here, I’ve rounded up more photos and quotations from the men and women behind the scenes.

“The thing about it is, they don’t like [the churro vendors] here, and the police don’t bother you for candy. Since I started selling candy here, they all started selling candy. Normally they’d be over there. … The churro lady now sells candies!” says Lucky, a candy vendor at Broadway Junction, pointing to the lady selling candy on opposite platform.

“They shouldn’t be here, but I still see them. … They think if they sell candy, they won’t be bothered, but they’re not supposed to be selling anything,” says NYPD Officer Nieves, on vendors selling candy.

“To tell this story, you have to learn about those who became millionaires and made money, and those that didn’t, who came for a dream, and the dream in this country turned into a nightmare,” says Ernesto.

Flip the page for Julio’s observations on why churro vendors don’t get licenses.

“My family depends on me, you know–you work to provide for them. Because you are the vehicle that supports them,” says Ernesto.

“To come to this country is to arrive and be born anew, for those of us who came from other countries,” says Ernesto.

“If you have a license [to sell churros], and you get arrested, they pull your license and the fines are $2,000, $3,000, $5,000. If someone doesn’t have a license, they just arrest you, you lose one day of work, and that’s it: You can go back to work. For that reason, they don’t get licenses,” says Julio, who makes 2,000 to 3,000 churros daily in East Harlem and sells them to the vendors in bulk.

“Here in the winter, there are seven vendors right here. Right now they are outside, selling mangos and ices,” says Maria, another vendor, who has been selling for five years.

Read more about New York’s underground churro vendors in this week’s Village Voice.