Friday, January 16, 2009

Cupcake Wars

If you’ve spent any time lately in my home of Washington, DC and neighboring northern Virginia, you’ve probably caught sight of a new rising starlet in town. Well, she’s not exactly “new,” really, she’s always been around; the girl next door, usually overlooked in favor of her flashier sisters or delicate and exotic French cousins. Soft, yet full of in-your-face sweetness, the public can never get enough. That’s right, I’m talking about cupcakes.

I can’t speak for other cities nationwide, but a quick survey of recent media tells me that the cupcake phenomenon sweeping DC is not unique. In fact, the “cupcakery” has become so ubiquitous here that the Washington Post devoted 8 weeks of its Food section to the “Cupcake Wars.” Each week the paper put two cupcake-bakeries head to head in a contest comparing the desserts in areas like variety, texture, flavor and cost.

And when I say “cupcakery” I don’t mean bakeries that just specialize in upscale cupcakes. I mean that, if you stop into the shops for a cookie or a brownie, you will be disappointed because these bakeries are devoted entirely to the cupcake. Not surprisingly, to me this is a godsend. But understandably, I have had some difficulty convincing my friends that, in the midst of a crappy economy, up to $3.25 for a cupcake is money well spent. But one stop into my favorite new cupcake shop in town, Hello Cupcake, tells me that I am not alone. When Hello Cupcake opened in the Summer of 2008, I made sure to stop in during its first week in business. My friends and I eagerly walked through the doors at midday on a Friday only to find that by 2:00pm only 3 out of 13 daily flavors were left. With flavors like ‘Peanut Butter Blossom,’ ‘Tiramisu,’ and ‘Raspberry Beret,’ these cakes are clearly hard to resist and I find it easy to justify the cost of a boutique dessert by comparing it to something like a scoop of ice cream or a happy hour drink after a long day at work.

It doesn’t matter to me if DC might be somewhat behind the curve of the cupcake wave, because the simple pleasures of this old-fashioned dessert are timeless, an endless source of baking inspiration and, dare I say it-sexy?


  1. Ok, I'm ready to be convinced that $3.25 is worth its weight in cupcake.

  2. Tanya: Here's the list of daily featured flavors, just let me know which day sounds tastiest to you...or days :)