I have never been what you might call a cupcake person—pies and donuts are more to my taste—but last summer, when we went to the Taste of Brunswick in Brunswick, Maine, I discovered a cupcake so good that it changed my opinion of them. The cake was moist, dense, and extremely chocolately, and the frosting seemed to be a perfect combination of icing and whipped cream. In fact, I was so taken by these cupcakes, from 111 Maine in Brunswick, that I wrote a long article about cupcakes for Wolf Moon Journal.
Oh, the things I discovered. A woman named Suzanne Rutland claims to have eaten over 50,000 Hostess CupCakes. As a child, she started the Hostess Cup Cake Club, and she still eats four Hostess CupCakes every day. And, no, she doesn’t weigh 300 pounds, the way she should. She is trim and attractive. Unfair, but that’s how life is sometimes.
In the course of my research I found out that there are blogs such as Cupcakes Take the Cake dedicated solely to cupcakes.
In researching the origins, I read that cupcakes might be descendents of fruitcake, baked small. Alan Davidson, from the Oxford Companion to Food, writes about baking batter in cups and even suggests that in the U.S.A. the name might have come from our measuring system, which is based on the cup. He then goes on to describe how small pound cakes were “baked in individual pans [and] were quite popular in the 18th century.” He notes that “Queen Cakes” were an example of this kind of diminutive pound cake, and they “evolved from lighter fruitcakes baked in England.”
There is even a slogan associated with cupcakes: Keep calm and Have a Cupcake. As my husband, Clif, put it, there is a whole cupcake subculture.
Who knew that such a small dessert could be so big? But, I thought, surely after a ten- year run, started perhaps by Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, the cupcake craze would begin to wane. Apparently this is not the case. At least not in New York City. According the Wall Street Journal, not only are cupcakes still going strong, but also they actually might be helping the economy. They are small, sweet, and relatively inexpensive. People aren’t afraid to indulge in them. “‘One segment of the industry that seems to be adding the most outlets is cupcake cafes. This could be a fad, or not,’ Barbara Byrne Denham, chief economist at real-estate services firm Eastern Consolidated, wrote in a report Thursday.”
Well, if cupcakes are a fad, then it’s a long one. And while, for me, cupcakes will never replace donuts and pies, I can’t help but admire their tenacity. After all, how many donut cafes or pie cafes are there?