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BEST PIÑATA Phoenix 2007 - Sanchez and Sons

Sanchez and Sons

Sanchez and Sons

1234 E. Washington St.

Phoenix, AZ 85034

602-253-3212

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Living so close to the border, we don't have much trouble finding a run-of-the-mill piñata. Even gringo-friendly markets like Safeway carry piñatas shaped like SpongeBob and Disney princesses. But if you want the real deal, not just some assembly-line rip-off, Sanchez and Sons is the place to go. Each piñata here is handmade, and owner Amador Sanchez says his crew can make one in any shape — just give them four days' notice.

The shop used to import their piñatas from Mexico until the Border Patrol became worried about drugs and started busting them open looking for a kind of sugar not usually found at children's birthday parties. Like so many other south-of-the-border traditions, a real piñata is a mix of both secular tradition (hence, the plethora of papier-mâché Minnie Mice and ninjas for sale at Sanchez) and Catholic symbolism.

The seven-pointed star piñata, Sanchez's specialty, is actually a part of the Mexi-Catholic Christmas celebration. The points on the star represent the devil and the seven deadly sins, the goodies inside are blessings El Diablo is hiding, and busting it open releases them. Not into Catholic guilt? Here's another tradition we can all get behind here in the desert: The Aztecs used to fill clay piñatas with water.

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