A groundbreaking step in Spanish news reporting, this photograph is a document of how people lived in the early 20th century, focusing on a worker in the street. Unlike other street peddlers, the barquillero (rolled wafer seller) was well liked by the people of Madrid. The barquillero was a popular traditional character, who would often come into the city and be taken on as a paid worker by someone, usually for five or six duros a month, plus shoes and food. He could be an entertaining salesman, delighting the children with his games of chance as he sold the sweets. The cylindrical drum he wore a on his back had his name engraved on the lid and a wheel of fortune attached to it. The number that came up decided how many wafers (barquillos) the child would get, although according to the zarzuela Agua, azucarillos y aguardiente, the wheel was usually fixed. Photographer Alfonso Sánchez García caught such a scene at the Altos de la Moncloa, in which a young barquillero, in corduroy trousers, shirt and beret, waits for a man accompanying four children – who have already won a special extra-long barquillo – to give him five cents more for another spin of the wheel.
Almudena Cruz Yábar