I had to go to the mall, a place I try to avoid at all costs, the other day to have my iPod looked out by the too cool tech-geeks at the Apple Store, when I saw something that made me cringe in what was almost actual, physical pain. No, it wasn’t unfettered consumerism at its overpriced worst. It wasn’t bad mall food, as our local mall here in Ann Arbor actually boasts a couple of decent eateries: Sushi Café (yes, sushi at the mall and it is delicious) and Chipotle. It was a cupcake kiosk.
When did the cupcakes invade and why have we let them take over? A kiosk at the mall, a store devoted entirely to cupcakes just off Main Street in Ann Arbor, and my DirecTV has 250 channels, 90% of which are devoted to cupcakes all of the sudden. It seems I can’t go to a party or function without some too cute dessert with pink frosting staring at me.
I don’t have anything against dessert, but I am more of a main course kind of person. The cookie will always hold a special place in my heart, but I’d take fried chicken or cheesy potatoes over dessert any day. So I ask again, what is the deal with cupcakes? They can certainly be delicious, but so are bacon smores and I don’t see kiosks at the mall for them. Besides, cupcakes suffer from many of the same issues as muffins do. The top is inevitably more delicious, but enveloping a full cupcake bite leads to frosting on the nose. Not a good look for a man. The solution is to lop the top off. I just don’t trust a dessert that needs to be mutilated to achieve full deliciousness.
The working theory I have about their popularity is that they are portable cakes, and if there is one thing we Americans love, it is portable, fattening, sugar-laden food. But they are also cute, which annoys the hell out of me. At my son’s school, every Mom had to be Sandra Lee and make some pink princess designed cupcake or Spiderman themed cupcake for their little snowflake’s birthday. (If they have to be Sandra Lee the least they could have done was bring cocktails for the adults, but I digress.) Call me a rebel, but I made chocolate chip cookies for my son’s kindergarten class on his birthday. And yes, I do bake when I have to, if I have to be a stay-at-home Dad you can damn well be sure I’m going to make some cookies. Delicious ones, too. Might as well fully embrace where life has taken me…
I was going to include a review of Cupcake Wars, but our friends at Would I Buy It Again did a solid, in depth review and I would rather direct you to their page than force myself to watch it. Besides, it surely would have been a hateful rant and I like to limit those, otherwise you will be desensitized to them. Can’t have that happen. As for cupcake shows, no thank you. I can’t stand Ace of Cakes either; Duff is actually pretty cool but baking shows in general are not on my list of things to watch. Ever. I even turn Alton Brown off when he is baking.
Just like Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day, let me warn all of the impeding invasion of the cupcakes. Maybe it is too late. Their saturation is close to critical mass. In the mean time, I’ll be in the corner with a bucket of fried chicken.