Log in

No account? Create an account


Cupcakes: I still do not understand them

Honestly. Please. I won't make fun. Someone just let me in on the joke. At the risk of sounding too Seinfeldian, what is the deal with cupcakes?

I don't mean the actual cupcakes. I get that. Although I am not myself fond of them, I get them. They are cute little things you can decorate, and they are like an adorable little miniature cake you can eat all by yourself. What I mean is, they seem to have transcended that and become a "thing". There are events like the Third Annual Macy's Decorate-A-Cupcake-With-Replicas-Of-Your-Favorite-WWII-Battle Marathon To Fight Crohn's Disease. There are at least ten TV shows about cupcakes. Are there TV shows about salads? There are not TV shows about salads.

See, usually, I am pretty good at this. When cigars stopped being objects that guys named Mappy smoked at the dog track and became a "thing", it didn't take me long to figure it out. Cigars are big phallic symbols, and they cost a lot more than they're worth, and they annoy everyone around you, and they involve the subjugation of brown people. Easy. They're just another status symbol for rich white dudes or wannabe rich white dudes. Cigar Aficionado magazine is best thought of as I Enjoy Being a Privileged Shit Monthly. And that's fine.

It took me longer to figure out wine, because first, it makes me sick, and second, it can be difficult to parse the various complexities of liquor snobbery. The thing I couldn't wrap my head around wasn't the expense -- I had encountered the same issues with Scotch, where rich dipshits would pay two grand for a bottle of something that should never, ever cost more than $50-$75. What I couldn't figure out was all this highfalutin bafflegab from oenophiles and pseudo-sommeliers about how this or that wine contained a dandelion overtone, or a heady nose of caramel and peach tea, or a distinctive aftertaste of Mongolian gorse. Because, see, there is nothing in wine except grapes. Nobody ever eats a grape and says it has a flavor reminiscent of oily kestrel feathers. Once it was finally explained to me scientifically, though, I got it: wine snobbery is just a way to sound pretentious and justify spending a lot of money while still getting hobo-drunk. And that's fine too.

But I just don't get cupcakes. Someone explain them to me. Please.


Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
Jun. 18th, 2010 02:25 am (UTC)
I also don't understand cupcakes at all. What are people expressing culturally when they are into cupcakes? It seems so pointless.
Jun. 18th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
They kind of are like boobs in the way cigars are like penises? IDK?
BLANK - ludickid - Jun. 18th, 2010 04:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2010 02:28 am (UTC)
there is a convenience to cupcakes that regular cake slices do not afford. Let's say you are really craving cake and you walk by a bakery. You're in a rush, so you want your cake to go. A cupcake is handheld and does not require a fork.
Jun. 18th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
also, the ratio of frosting to cake is more favorable in a cupcake than in a cake slice.
BLANK - ludickid - Jun. 18th, 2010 04:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2010 02:36 am (UTC)
They're yummy of course, but when it comes to them being a "thing", I think it's because they seem very harmless & cute, which is an image the people who love them tend to aspire to.
Jun. 18th, 2010 02:59 am (UTC)
Childhood. Return to childhood, justified, like the wine and cigars, by layers of deceptive crap.

There are shops in my town which sell nothing but cupcakes. Just cupcakes.
Jun. 18th, 2010 03:31 am (UTC)
THIS. With an added side of "People like to indulge themselves and they like to eat sugar, but if they're eating a fancy gourmet cupcake, they can delude themselves into believing the experience is about the visual element and the culinary high-end fanciness, and not about poking a gob of sugar and butter into their faces." Also, a cupcake is a single-serve, self-contained, stand-alone experience, so it feels like less of a bad dietary choice than eating something where you determine portion size entirely by yourself, like a bowl of ice cream or a slice of cake.

These are guesses; I have spent no time on cupcake studies.

But the whole fad is particularly baffling to me because I've had cupcakes from fancy-schmancy specialty shops and boutiques — and recently from a gourmet cupcake truck that's making half of Chicago go squee — and frankly, I've never found them to be that good. Even the best cupcake tends to be kind of dry compared to a good cake, because it's harder to heat such a small confection through and keep it moist.
BLANK - ludickid - Jun. 18th, 2010 04:19 am (UTC) - Expand
BLANK - rollick - Jun. 18th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
BLANK - ludickid - Jun. 18th, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2010 03:06 am (UTC)
They are cute little things you can decorate, and they are like an adorable little miniature cake you can eat all by yourself.

I think that's about it. Maybe it's the portability ("Can't walk and talk while eating a piece of pie!"), maybe it's the illusion of indulging in something sweet without really pigging out ("At least I'm not eating a whole cake!"), maybe it's the relative ease with which they can be baked and decorated ("A lot easier than a Baked Alaska!"), maybe it's just another foodie trend ("Macaroons are next!"), but those are all just guesses. I'm pretty indifferent to 'em.
Jun. 18th, 2010 04:12 am (UTC)
If you can't walk and talk while eating a piece of pie, you're not trying hard enough.
BLANK - johnnylemonhead - Jun. 18th, 2010 10:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2010 03:24 am (UTC)
My guess is that you don't have to share them. Mine!
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:04 am (UTC)
1. nostalgia for childhood
2. desire for something twinkie-sized, but fancier so it feels like a "treat;" I can relate to this, lots of times I will spend a little bit more on something indulgent because as long as you're making the calorie investment, you might as well have the version with the nice chocolate and the real butter cream.
3. small round things are easy and fun to decorate and you can make a bunch of cupcakes for your office and decorate the hell out of them and thanks to cupcake mixes and icing in cans, you barely even have to cook but you look like a domestic goddess when you walk in with a couple trays of cupcakes decorated so they each look like a different baseball stadium or whatever. Moreover, no messy cake-cutting -- just hand 'em out. Note: I saw a bundt pan in a store one time shaped so your cake would end up in the shape of Yankee Stadium I think. I resisted and didn't buy it.

Also, Pierce, I think you can't understand the cupcake fad because you don't really care for cake. If I remember correctly, you're Team Pie all the way.
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:46 am (UTC)
Go Team Pie!

BLANK - rollick - Jun. 18th, 2010 05:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
BLANK - ludickid - Jun. 18th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:29 am (UTC)
Whatever's going on with bacon is the thing that's going on with cupcakes, except minus the weird bullshit nerd machismo thing that's somehow gotten attached to salted pork.
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:48 am (UTC)
Your search -- "bacon cupcakes" -- yielded about 8,130,000 results (0.39 seconds).
BLANK - moondispatches - Jun. 20th, 2010 12:07 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2010 11:33 am (UTC)
I think they became trendy, like anything else, but then magazines started showing celebrities eating them, or celebrities would say they can't live without X cupcake shop in New York or LA. So, the cupcake makers are getting rich on a very cheap product and we get to think we can eat them because Katie Holmes does and SHE'S not fat.
Therefore, it's obviously a conspiracy between cupcake bakers and THE MEDIA.
You have to feel bad for me...when I want to ride the cupcake trend I have to seek out vegan cupcakes and they are, like, a million dollars each!
Also, Jon is right on with that bacon thing.
(Deleted comment)
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
If they can find a way to tie cupcakes in to sports, they'll capture the dude demographic. If you can make a dude go "HEY SPORTS", he'll do anything.
Jun. 18th, 2010 12:33 pm (UTC)
I agree with what the pretty Asian flautist said.
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
Boy, it took me like three hours to realize you were talking about the icon. I kept thinking "Uh, the one from Treme? What?"
Jun. 18th, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
I think they, and larger cakes, are very TV-friendly. Bright colors, room for different kinds of decorations, but only a little at a time. Each cupcake (because the trend doesn't seem to be about the cakey part) is a blank canvas, but miniaturized, which offers creative opportunity but with the built-in challenge of restraint. Sort of like bento boxes. Or Twitter, come to think of it.
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, there's something about it that really plays into the new media age. It is a postmodernist snack.
BLANK - schtune - Jun. 18th, 2010 06:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 18th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
Did you see this, which showed up in my friends' feed just a few entries after yours? Cupcakes are everywhere, man. Also, I want to be the Captain of Team Pie.
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
You'll have to start working hard for the World Cup of Pies.
Jun. 18th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
I believe I have been rude enough to point this out before, but cupcakes are so 2007. It is time to make your peace with them and move on.

I don't know what the defining food fad of 2010 is yet. Perhaps it is the year of the hipster/foodie/handmade donut. Or cake balls, whatever the hell those are. Cake testicles? A friend of mine recently received a birthday shipment of cake balls each decorated with a little picture of a supermodel making out with a goat. I don't know.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Is Bubble Tea still a thing?
Jun. 18th, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
If cupcakes are so 2007, bubble tea is so 2005. Except in California, where it is kept au courant by young Asian kids who text at the speed of sound.
Jun. 18th, 2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
Oh, can I append this to ask about Pocky? I mean, I get it, japanophiles, but I literally cannot think of a more gaggable food to get all hepped up about. It's like carob-coated drywall nails.
Jun. 18th, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC)
There are something like eight-thousand varieties of Pocky. I'm sure there is at least one you would enjoy.
BLANK - calamityjon - Jun. 18th, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
BLANK - masterninja66 - Jun. 18th, 2010 09:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>