February 9, 2011

Cupcake Craze. Is the fad about of fizzel?

Cupcake Craze. Is the fad about to fizzle?

By, Bridget Coffey

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of partaking in the 3rd Annual Elite Bridal Expo at the Grand Traverse Resort just outside of Traverse City, Michigan. Not only did I have a booth with my wedding cupcakes on display, but I also was able to be a guest speaker in my area of expertise, cupcakes!

My name is Bridget Coffey and I am the Chief Cupcake of Megan’s Cupcakes, a cupcake only catering company based in Cadillac, MI. People always ask if I am Megan. My response is, “no I am Megan’s Mom.” Megan is my six-year old daughter and I named the business after her.

My talk starts out with the history of the cupcake, how the craze got started, and then leads us to our topic of whether the fad is going to fizzle and how Megan’s Cupcakes fits into the picture.

Cupcakes were first documented in the 19th century when two revolutionary advancements in baking were made. The first was the switch from weighing ingredients to measuring ingredients. Since cake baking in a hearth oven was difficult, women went to their cupboards and used their pottery teacups to bake individual size cakes. Hence, the term “cupcake” was formed.

Over 90 years ago, a man by the name of Mr. Rice brought the Hostess Cupcake to our grocers shelf. When sales were down he re-designed the cupcake in the 1940’s with the cream filling and the squiggle design on top, the way we know and love it today. Mr. Rice also gave us the Twinky, the Ho Ho, the Ding Dong, and the Snowball.

Americans have been baking with Betty Crocker cake mixes since 1949 and girls have been baking miniature cakes with the heat of a light bulb in their Easy Bake Ovens since 1963. My daughter has the new, Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker that bakes a cupcake in 30 seconds in the microwave!

Cupcakes became a pop culture obsession right around the time when characters Carrie and Miranda from HBO’s series Sex and the City were featured in front of Magnolia Bakery in New York City eating a cupcake. Soon after Magnolia’s became a tourist attraction. I recently visited their Rockefeller Center location and I must say I too waited in line to pay over $3 for one of their Red Velvet cupcakes!

Next came the first cupcake only bakery in California, Sprinkles, opened by pastry Chef Candice Nelson. She now has a chain of bakeries and sells her mixes out of William Sonoma. You may know her as she is one of the celebrity judges on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. If you are a fan of the show and think I should be on it, well, I already missed out on my 15 minutes of fame. Last summer I received a call from the producers asking me to audition for season 2. I did not make the final cut. It was flattering to at least get the call and I had fun filming my audition video that can be viewed on Youtube.

This takes us to the question of the day. Is the fad ready to fizzle out? No chance, according to a February 3, 2011 article in The Wall Street Journal. Cupcakes are now just moving from sweet to savory. Trader Joe’s in New York sells a frozen turkey meat loaf cupcake topped with spinach and mashed potatoes. Heirloom, an LA catering company sold 10,000 lasagna cupcakes in the month of December! One celebrity bride in LA even served them at her wedding!

So why do people love to eat cupcakes? Here are 5 reasons why. Cupcakes are portable. Cupcakes don’t require a knife and a fork. It is fun to peel the paper off of a cupcake. Cupcakes provide us with nostalgia. And cupcakes are guilt reduced because of their size.

While the cupcake craze is mainstream on the east and west coast, Megan’s Cupcakes is the only cupcake only catering company in Northern Michigan. People love to have Megan’s Cupcakes at their special events and weddings. Megan’s Cupcakes has cupcake trees that have from 2 to 7 tiers and can hold from 24 to 300 plus cupcakes. We collaborate with our brides and their florist to customize a dramatic display for their “cake” table, but it’s cupcakes.

Megan’s Cupcakes are baked from scratch in small batches the morning of the event. You only order the number of cupcakes needed so there is no waste and you can customize the flavor selections so each of your guests will have the flavor they love. Better yet, no one has to cut the cake. After the ceremonial cupcake exchange between the bride and groom, guests are free to gather around the cupcake tree, peruse their flavor selections (we type them up in a pretty frame), and then indulge in a cupcake.

As long as there are kids who are born with a sweet tooth and Moms who bake cupcakes for school snacks there will be new generations of cupcake lovers. Cupcakes may not be as traditional as cake, but they are nostalgic. Cupcakes make people of all ages smile. Cupcakes are here to stay!

1 comment:

The Art Around said...

Nice article, Bridget!

The cupcakes on stands always brings to mind a croquembouche, which is a very traditional wedding confection ( instead of cake) in parts of Europe.

The savory cupcake idea could be a fun direction. Maybe not lasagnas but something else delightful!