Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cupcake Wars aka 'Dudecakes'

It's no longer a secret that cupcakes seem to be the hot new trend in popular pastries. I'd even venture to say that cupcakes have broken into the mass market in a way that few other baked goods ever have. I mean, when was the last time you went to a wedding and saw a cookie tower instead of a 5-tiered cake? But for cupcakes, even the most elegant of weddings are no longer out of reach. My local area now has nearly 10 bakeries devoted exclusively to cupcakes and I personally follow at least two blogs that pay homage solely to these little treats. There are Facebook "meetup" groups that plan outings to tryout new local cupcake shops. You can even buy "couture" cupcake liners made from laser-cut card stock. Outside of large U.S. cities, cupcakes have even gone global. Destinations as far flung as London, Paris, Rome and even Malaysia have jumped on the cupcake bandwagon (or "fairy cake" for the British folk). However, as with any popular fad, inevitably the backlash hits (Pogs, anyone?).

Since last year, a number of voices have started calling cupcakes their "least favorite" food trend, and begging to be rescued from the virtual inundation of cupcakeries on every corner. In Time magazine, Joel Stein went as far as to say that cupcakes are "fake happiness, wrought in Wonka unfood colors. They appeal to the same unadventurous instincts that drive adults to read Harry Potter and watch Finding Nemo without a kid in the room." Woah, now. Even putting aside that jab at Harry Potter--clearly some of these cupcake haters have some issues with reclaiming their childhood. But, unfortunately for the naysayers the ubiquity of cupcakes has only just begun; just as any overdone fad needs to morph itself in order to stay relevant and hip (Power Rangers, anyone?), so too has the cupcake market begun to transform...Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you The Dudecake.

Just when you thought your local cupcakery had perfected the art of the plain old sweet cake with sugary buttercream--KABAM--the savory cupcake trend has arrived. Personally, this is the reason that I love cupcakes and will always love cupcakes no matter how passé they may become in the eyes of the public: they are so versatile. Just in the way that I was able to infuse a cake with the exact flavors of mint julep, so too can you create french toast cupcakes, or champagne cupcakes, or beer cupcakes. That's right, I am fully embracing the newly coined term "Dudecake" to describe the recent influx of savory cupcakes to dining menus because they all seem to be man-friendly flavors like pickle, or bacon and cheese, or tomato soup. So, what do you think, guys? Is the cupcake market successfully transforming to rope in another demographic with these savory cakes. For me, the jury is still out. But in the meantime, I will definitely count myself amongst the voices of the steadily growing anti-backlash backlash.

1 comment:

  1. I like bacon, but on a cupcake? I'm not sure I'm ready to go there.