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— The centuries-old Portuguese treat has become a global brand, and a very modern marketing machine is pushing it.

by Alice Kantor: An unlikely dessert is on its way to becoming as ubiquitous as the croissant.

Not long ago an authentic pastel de nata—the diminutive egg-custard tart with a crispy crust—required a trip to Portugal. But now they’re popping up in supermarkets, coffee shops and bakeries from Manhattan to Singapore. The pastry even earned its own episode on the Great British Bake Off, the global hit that conquered the world with bunting and scones.

The pastel de nata, which just means cream pastry in Portuguese, has similarly become an international hit, centuries after it was said to have been invented in a Belem monastery by monks. In Portugal, the simple treat often costs about a euro ($1.14) at the more famous shops, but they fetch up to 3 pounds ($4) in trendy London cafes. One grocer, Lidl, boasted of selling 2,000 nata an hour in the U.K. in 2018, competing with doughnuts for popularity…

Image courtesy of Bloomberg/Patricia de Melo Monteira

April 15, 2019 — 05:01 BST