Cupcakes: the clock is ticking for their 15 minutes.


It’s a classic tale of American-style capitalism.
A good idea, a new business model. There’s some revenue and a whole lot of buzz. The funding starts to trickle in. There’s critical mass, rapid expansion, and a lot of second-movers hoping to cash in with hype and borrowed capital.

We’ve seen it all before— with housing and hedge funds and technology. And now cupcakes.

The market does seem to be reaching saturation. Cupcake boutiques dot the gentrified neighborhoods of our cities and the strip malls of our suburbs. Booksellers’ shelves are filled with bestselling cupcake cookbooks. Tiered cupcakes have become commonplace at weddings. That annual celebration of extravagance, the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, this year features a $25,000 cupcake kiddie car. Could we be at the top of a cupcake bubble?

Their appeal is undeniable. Cupcakes nurture us body and soul. They charm us with their diminutive size. They indulge us with their sweetness. They soothe us with their nostalgia. The economy may be going to hell in a handbasket, but for a few dollars you can be transported back to your third grade classroom, licking pink buttercream off your fingers while your classmates regale you with a round of Happy Birthday to You.

There is hope for the longevity of cupcakes beyond the bubble cycle. Their rationale transcends economic shifts; you get comfort and luxury for just a few dollars. They are the perfect treat in good times and bad. And bakers love them. They require no special equipment, skills, or ingredients, and offer limitless creative possibilities. A working oven, a little flair with a frosting knife, and you’re good to go.

Cupcakes have their detractors. They’ve been called “fake happiness, wrought in Wonka unfood colors,” and “the favorite greedy treat of the me-generation.” There are some who are already on the lookout for what comes next. A roundup of “new cupcake” suggestions from the blogosphere found a lot of votes for French macarons, the pastel-colored meringue and ganache sandwich cookies. Frozen yogurt, whoopie pies, and cream puffs all have their boosters. But the largest contingent is urging us to stop looking, that cupcakes are here to stay, and we will be enjoying them in their 16th minute.



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5 Responses to Cupcakes: the clock is ticking for their 15 minutes.

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  5. Marilyn says:

    For my 50th bday party I made for moi I had 90 mini cupcakes from a recommendation from yo sista..Sibey’s Cupcakery….big hit!!

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