Tuesday, October 10, 2006

In Cupcake News

It seems that Josh's old buddy Joel Stein wrote an op-ed in Time at the end of August about cupcakes that I have just now gotten around to reading thanks to astute reader HerrBeta sending it to my attention.

Perhaps I should mention I just rummaged around in my desk for some chocolate and for the first time in months came up empty- producing only pretzels and cashews. Not in the best mindset here. Let's have Joel kick things off for us.

There's nothing inherently wrong with the cupcake. Just like there's
nothing inherently wrong in the Koran. But our society's twisting of the
cupcake's role has become a sickness. They've paved the local bakery and put up
a $3 cupcake store.

First off, kudos to Stein for including the Koran and a twisted Joni Mitchell lyric in the lede of an editorial about cupcakes. That's good writing. This Cupcake is generally against paying $3 for a cupcake unless we're talking about a cupcake the size of your head or the proceeds go to charity. I'm happy to point out many places in the city where you can get a more reasonably priced cupcake including $1.75 at Buttercup Bakeshop and $1.50 at Sugar Sweet Sunshine. Stein also notes that at cupcake monoliths like Magnolia in the West Village and Sprinkles in Los Angeles "the line on weekends is more than half an hour long. Which, yes, is longer than it takes to bake a cupcake." Well, maybe you can prep and bake a cupcake in 30 minutes if you're using a box mix, but that certainly doesn't give you time for it to cool and frost. It doesn't matter, I've never queued for cupcakes yet although I have stood in line for a slice of Cakeman Raven's Red Velvet Cake fresh out of the oven and I'd do it again.

Look, I like Stein, because he shares the same mild contempt I do for adults trying to build a mental pillow fort by reading Harry Potter and watching Finding Nemo by themselves. But he really won me over with this confession:

As a kid, my heart pumped in anticipation of a classmate's birthday and the
inevitable arrival of that wide, low pink box. I'd pick away at the frosted top,
then collect the remaining pure cake in both hands, eating out of my palms like
a crazed bird on a sugar high. And when no one was looking, I'd shove the paper
in my mouth and chew it like cupcake gum.

Yes, I too used to chew on the paper cupcake wrappers until every trace of cake and frosting was gone and then spit out the soggy lump of paper. And if you were any kind of kid, you probably did too. So how can we win grown-up Stein over to the pro-cupcake camp when he considers them "fake happiness wrought in Wonka unfood colors"? I don't know, maybe it's just not meant to be. Or maybe we can tempt him with Cupcake Queen's Granny Smith Cupcakes with Caramel Icing or her Double Stuffed Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes or Chockylit's Chocolate Cupcakes with Chestnut-Fromage Blanc Frosting and Madeira Wine Glaze, hmm? or her Green Tea Lavender and Honey Cupcake Bombes. Honestly, I don't even know what half the ingredients Chocklit uses are but I know they are fancy and delicious. And if Stein or anyone else is still not convinced, there is always gratuitous cupcake porn, not to be confused with pornographic cupcakes.

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