(Too beautiful to eat? This little work of art is from Ladybug Luggage, a custom dessert company in Princeton, NJ. Picture compliments of Flickr and Creative Commons.)
I’m clueless as to the real reason for the mania. It’s the stuff marketers dream about. A product that takes off, all because it has squirrelled its way into the buyer’s psyche.
I think it all must be some psychological reaction to a whole generation seeing their Moms go full-time into the workforce. Yes, the ones responsible for the Cupcake Hysteria today are the offspring of my generation (or younger) and right now, it’s a groundswell assault on society…
It’s as if these almost 30-year-old’s are saying collectively: “You will give the noble cupcake its due” (because we didn’t get those fresh-from-the-oven treats when we were growing up because you went to jobs, instead.”)
I knew it was bad when I saw a store on Wall Street in downtown Asheville, North Carolina specifically geared toward the Cupcake. I asked inwardly, “How can this be?” “Are there really that many lovers of the small sweet cake to warrant brick and mortar stores dedicated to such?”
Apparently so. But when I asked the store owner “Do you really get THAT much business in cupcakes to sustain a physical plant?” he admitted that “Most of his business is internet sales.” The store with its cupcake containers, bake mitts, aprons, spatulas, mixers aligned to this one activity is merely his physical face.
But the fact he can afford that presence says “Yes, the cupcake, enjoys a revival of mega proportions.
What’s so surprising is: The CUPCAKE has become an industry in and of itself, and I wonder “How did this happen?” I mean there are whole cookbooks dedicated to the proper preparing of such; “Cupcake Wars” pop up everywhere where amateur bakers feud for bragging rights as to whose are best; there are all sorts of paraphernalia offered to decorate such (check out Martha Stewart’s line of candied treats), frostings, jimmies, ribbon piping, decals, motifs, theme decorations.
My God, there are even Cupcake Chat Rooms on the internet to swap recipes and even talk a jaded baker through his or her angst. Billions of dollars are invested in this one pursuit.
But the question is “Why?” “What has elevated the lowly cupcake to these dizzying heights?” I don’t see the same crazed fascination with pie…or cake? What is it about the cupcake?
Maybe because it’s a unit in and of itself. In other words, you can savor its charms without worrying you’ll need to avoid its call later, for you’ll quaff it at one shot…(No one saves the other half to eat later or requests a doggie bag to carry the remainder home).
Then, too (if it’s really fancy), it comes packaged in its own pretty knife-pleat foil skirt, coiffed in icing, replete with silver shots, jimmies, or gumdrops, and the little guys can please any taste: chocolate, vanilla, a swirl of the two, carrot cake, red velvet. As such, each one’s a decadent little cake that’s not going to get us into real trouble. I mean: “How many calories can it have?“
So, the lowly cupcake now elevated via the current generation to new heights of appreciation now takes its place aside the more glamorous likes of little titans like crème brulee (brought in from France, with the accent to prove it) and petits fours (blame the French again).
The cupcake, however, is a pure American invention, at least according to Wikipedia.
Who began the real pivotal move to heighten its popularity in our modern era? According to Wikipedia, it was Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex and the City.“ In one segment of that popular series, she bit into a small sweet cake, and that action on her part transported her legions of fans to Gustatory Heaven..
They’ve never been the same since.
Now consider: A television star of a popular series seers an action (eating that cupcake) into the American psyche for all time and an entire industry explodes. But then again, THAT’S the very thing advertisers dream about.
Remember the little old lady and “Where’s the beef?”
(Below is the background information on the delectable little treat from Wikipedia which tells us it just as easily could have been called a ramekin cake.)