And Now, A Rant About Cupcakes

This is a cupcake.

I love me some cake. I mean, I love it like a fat kid loves redundancy. My whole life is littered with the cakes I’ve seen and tasted, from my grandmother’s Red Velvet cake (with vanilla frosting. Seriously, people, cream cheese frosting? Are we in Communist Russia? Am I to begin standing in line for beets next? Cream cheese frosting is ONLY acceptable on carrot cake. Nothing else. UPDATED: I let my rage get the best of me. Cream cheese frosting is delicious on pumpkin or other spiced-cake product. I stand corrected.) to the cherry cake pops my wonderful wife made a couple months ago. I fucking love cake, just to be clear. Love it.

This includes cupcakes. Ahhh, the sweet, glorious cupcake. It’s a mini-cake all its own, a piece of heaven made for one hand, allowing a cake lover like me to eat a cake without having to use a fork and plate. From EZ-Bake ovens to school bake sales to after-game treats to something to make a bunch of goddamn kids shut the fuck up for 5 minutes, the cupcake has a well-deserved legacy as a beloved American treasure. Like so much of our precious heritage, however, this glorious symbol of utter deliciousness is being denigrated and desecrated before our very eyes. If we don’t act soon, the cupcake as we know it will be gone, tossed carelessly in the compost heap of forgotten culinary treasures like so many crumb-lined paper wrappers.

For fuck sake, people, LIVES ARE AT STAKE. Possibly.

Back in the day, a cupcake was pretty simple. It was a mouth-sized cake with a smear of frosting on top of it, much like a regular standard-issue cake. You could bite into it and get the perfect mix of cakey goodness and just the right amount of sweet, sweet frosting. In two or three bites you’d gotten the experience of having a perfect slice of cake and been able to tell yourself that it had a tiny amount of calories because, hey, look at how small and compact that was. You could eat 4 of them back to back and feel no guilt. The cupcake was awesome and a shitload easier to make than an actual cake.

I don’t know what’s happened in the last 10 years or so. Like with most things, I blame the foodies, since everything that ever goes wrong is either the fault of foodies, hippies, or hipsters. Cupcakes suddenly appeared with a huge glop of frosting on the top, leading to an imbalance of the crucial cake-to-icing ratio. You risked getting it up your nose if you bit into it carelessly. And yet, we bought them anyway. I shifted with the changing times, sure. I learned that if I ripped off the bottom half of the cupcake and put it on top of the frosting, I got a cake sandwich. Too much frosting still, but a workable solution. I was lulled into a false sense of security that, although they weren’t perfect anymore, the change wasn’t too onerous. In short, I slipped. My vigilance was lowered, like the Gondorians abandoning Durthang. Other battles to fight, other concerns more pressing. In the crucial first hours of the assault on the glory of cupcakes, I was asleep at my post. I failed.

Oh, how slippery the slope we were on, and we didn’t even KNOW IT.

This is not a fucking cupcake. This is a fucking oversweet muffin with too much fucking frosting.

Suddenly, cupcake boutiques opened. An entire store filled with nothing but delicious cupcakes? Why, this sounds astounding! Amazing! Progress! The 21st-century equivalent of the polio vaccine and the light bulb! I recognized the peril too late. All over the country, middling bakers who couldn’t bake a decent cake suddenly realized that they too could open a cupcake shop – no better, a shoppe – and sell cupcakes to hipsters and foodies at ever-increasing margins. The explosion of perkily-named and pink-decorated boutiques opened by those rapacious bastards led to a war. An underground cupcake war. The competition spurred people on to differentiate themselves in flavor and technique and approach. No longer would a yellow-cake-with-chocolate-frosting cupcake do. It had to become a Mochachino Macadamia Nut Boysenberry Swirl with Fleur De Sel Maple-Infused Frosting topped with Bolivian Chocolate and Cinnamon Bark Shavings. The simple, delicious cupcake was a relic, laughable.

As we stood idly by, the cupcake, the perfect portable miniature cake, grew. And grew. The Cupcake Wars went mainstream, becoming a TV competition show where a bunch of pretentious asshats make their precious little offerings of shit made out of energy drinks and vegan whatever-the-fuck-vegans-make-cupcakes-out-of, probably the souls of trees. More shows appeared, all to celebrate these dickbags and their shitty little uptown shoppes where they charge more for a single fucking cupcake than you could buy an entire fucking cake for somewhere else.

It’s now reached the point of absurdity. We are being sold cupcakes that you can’t even fucking bite into, all topped with this ridiculous whirl of frosting the same size as the fucking “cupcake” itself. It’s too big for the cake sandwich approach. It’s insane. What the fuck is the point of an overpriced, shitty cupcake that you can’t even fucking bite into? It’s like one of those stupid-ass burgers that’s like 7 fucking inches tall. It’s pointless. It’s fucking idiotic. It’s the chef equivalent of compensation for having a small package. “Look at this awesome fucking artisan creation that none of you fucking plebeians can even bite into without looking like goddamn idiot, I’m so fucking awesome.” They have to be laughing as they watch us either try to nibble around the edges of a fucking giant cupcake like hamsters or try to bite into it and get their shitty frosting all over our faces or, worse than any fucking thing else, reduced to using a goddamn fork and plate for the fucking thing. We’ve lost. The cupcake is gone.

Even Cottonmouth can't bite into a fucking cupcake.

At a company lunch recently, there were cupcakes. They were fucking ridiculously huge and topped with this mound of frosting. I said, fuck it, I’ll try one. I grab a red velvet one. I go to try my cake sandwich trick, which still is going to be a bitch since I’ll need to distend my jaw like Cottonmouth to get this Starbuck-muffin-sized monstrosity in my mouth. I tear the bottom part out and I discover that whatever dickbag foodie asshole who made these things decided that all the extravagant extra bullshit isn’t enough, and added a fucking pudding center to the cupcake. A fucking glop of fucking pudding in the middle of the fucking cupcake. Now this shit is dropping everywhere, I’m trying to figure out how to get some of the 8 inches of frosting on the bottom half, and just basically having a pain-in-the-ass time trying to EAT A FUCKING CUPCAKE. I manage a bite. The frosting isn’t cream cheese, so it was made by a capitalist, but the cake itself is as bland as fucking airline food. All this time and effort to make this huge fucking cupcake with bells and whistles and bullshit, and whoever made this fucking thing didn’t even bother to make it fucking taste good. What the fuck. It’s like these shitty little bakers that can’t hack making actual cakes (which is how Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes categorized them) don’t even know how to make a fucking cupcake taste good so they have to add 8 layers of pretentious bullshit to pass them off to gullible customers at batshit insane prices.

In the face of these gargantuan monstrosities, how can the lowly flat-topped cupcake compete? How many proud bakers have brought their traditional cupcakes to their church, only to be laughed at and mocked by the people with their softball-sized versions of the American Classic? How many children have been ashamed at the seemingly-tiny-sized confections given to them by well-meaning patriotic parents and have thrown them in the bushes instead of facing their merciless shitty little peers backed by the tyranny of the New Cupcake? How many of these poor people have despaired at the ridicule and locked themselves away in a dark closet, contemplating the short sharp shock of a knotted rope at their necks to end the torment and misery these oversized faux-cupcakes cause?

We need to put a stop to this. We need to strike a blow against this threat to our very liberty and lives. You and I can change this. This weekend, make cupcakes. The normal-sized kind. Frost them well but not overgenerously. Take pictures of them. Post them to Twitter or Facebook or something. Spread the word that we will not let the precious cupcake ideal go without a fight. Give them to people you love. Allow them to enjoy a cupcake in the manner in which it should be enjoyed.

Take back America.

About Alan Edwards

An indie writer who does accounting full-time on the side.

Posted on April 13, 2012, in Rantin' and Bitchin', Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. You know that always bothered me, having vegans call things the vegan equivalent of a real thing, like vegan cupcakes, or vegan chicken tenders. THEY ARE MISSING THE BASIC MAKEUP OF WHAT MAKES THEM REAL, COME UP WITH A NEW NAME FOR YOUR MEAT FLAVORED VEGETABLE MATTER YOU HEATHENS.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I’ve never understood why vegans harbor so much hate for plants that they refuse to eat anything else.

  2. Thank you for speaking out on this national atrocity! I, for one, will bake my gluten free chocolate cupcakes and eat the fuck outta them. They aren’t much to look at, but they taste awesome and get the job done. And that’s what America is all about. Get ‘er done! And I’ll be drinking wine and eating my fucking cupcakes while I write, cause I’m an ‘merican!

    So there!

    • And the Founding Fathers/Mothers of this country, Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines, thank you for your patriotism. Food is not eaten with the eyes, it is eaten by OUR AMMMURICAN MOUTHS!

  3. Take a stand, brother.

    • The weight of responsibility may bow my shoulders and bend my back, but I will not shirk the burden of duty in the face of such matters of truth and justice. Plus, I hope someone makes me some cupcakes.

  4. As a patriotic mother, I thank you, and will be baking cupcakes in your honor this weekend, proudly posting pictures on twitter and my facebook page. Thank you, for shedding a bright light on an issue that has been a blight on my ‘All American Mom’ reputation in recent years!

    • YES! It is with the support of wonderful people like you that this war can be won, and cupcakes can once again be eaten with but a single hand!

  5. I will be baking cupcakes this weekend & enjoying them and then I may bake some good old fashion cupcakes for work Monday – ’cause I’m like that

    • The fact that you are voluntarily willing to go above and beyond the call of duty and extend the cupcake goodness to Monday makes my heart swell with pride and helps me believe that we can change this back to the Right Way. Viva la Cupcake Revolucion!

  6. Now I want a real cupcake… curse you

  7. ::Puts on his battered cupcake tin helmet, followed by strapping on his 16-hole cupcake tin shield, wielding a sharpened steel spatula:: Where to mon general? Which way iz dis war against te ‘eathen bak’kers? Mon dieu! If I zee another one of t’ose cake cups, I shall slaughter tem were dey stand. Allons-ze!

  8. ::Puts on his battered cupcake tin helmet, followed by strapping on his 16-hole cupcake tin shield, wielding a sharpened steel spatula:: Where to mon general? Which way iz dis war against te ‘eathen bak’kers? Mon dieu! If I zee another one of t’ose cake cups, I shall slaughter tem were dey stand. Allons-ze!

    • We will fight them in the bakeries. We will fight them in the kitchens. WE WILL FIGHT THEM IN THE GROCERY STORES AND BOUTIQUES AND AIRPORTS AND WHEREVER THE OVERLARGE CUPCAKE IS FOUND. AND WE WILL NOT REST UNTIL SOMEONE BRINGS ME A NICE CUPCAKE OR TWO, PREFERABLY YELLOW CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE FROSTING AND PERHAPS ALSO A COLD YOOHOO IN A BOTTLE.

      Hmmm. I think my rallying speech needs a little work.

  9. As always, great post! I do love me some cupcakes, but I agree with you about the abnormally large mounds of icing on our treats nowadays. Give me a little sugary icing with my sweet and moist cake. That’s what I want. That’s Heaven.

    And now I too want a cupcake.

    • I am a frosting lover. I used to eat it straight out of the little cardboard container with a spoon. So when I’m scraping it off of a cupcake, clearly a line has been crossed.

  10. These new cupcakes are insane! I went to a party where some one had purchased the “mini” cupcakes from some fancy pants boutique bakery and even the “minis” had to be cut in half and shared. When I think “mini” I think small enough to pop it in my mouth, eat twenty and not feel a twinge of guilt.

    I make cupcakes for nearly every party, birthday, etc. and they are always regular sized with just enough frosting to cover the top. I don’t understand the frosting obsession at all!

    Also pudding in the middle? What the fuck?

    • A mini cupcake that isn’t eaten in one bite? My head would have exploded in aggrieved fury.

      I wish I could find the person that thought sticking pudding in the cupcake was a good idea. I’d hunt them down and… and… stare indignantly at them when they weren’t looking. I tend to be nonconfrontational in person.

  11. I disagree with your caption on the second picture. It’s not a muffin, it’s a pastry. The presence of a fork however very very clearly disqualifies it from being a cupcake.

    • We can agree to disagree on that point. That fact that we both consider it a non-cupcake is enough for me.

  12. “a Mochachino Macadamia Nut Boysenberry Swirl with Fleur De Sel Maple-Infused Frosting topped with Bolivian Chocolate and Cinnamon Bark Shavings. This is the starbuckification (or starfuckification, as my wife pointed out) of the cupcake. There’s nothing like going to an event where there are fifty different types of “gourmet” cupcakes and they all freaking taste the same. “Oh, I wonder what flavor this one is? Oh! Bland. Just like that last one.” Yet, like the emperor and his new clothes, everyone stood around proclaiming how good they all were. Afraid to appear unsophisticated amongst the hipsters and foodies.

    I would love to hear your take on the cupcake ATM machines that are appearing outside these boutique cupcake Shoppppes. But I fear that your keyboard make catch fire, if you do.

    BTW: My wife – she of the cooking-mess superpower – read your rant and enjoyed it immensely…and when she laughs, she laughs BIG. She is sorely tempted to bake you some of her Hershey’s chocolate-death cupcakes that weigh in at like a pound a piece. Normal sized, of course. All the extra weight is ’cause they are full of flavor.

    • I love that word, Starfuckification. It’s perfect. The last time I went into one of them for coffee, I literally couldn’t find it on their “menu” to see how much it cost. It was just a bunch of words that I didn’t understand and prices that seemed a little crazy for water passed through ground beans. And you’re right – all these outrageous flavor combinations end up tasting like exactly nothing. And they are usually dry. Yum.

      I’m still struggling as I attempt to process the concept of a cupcake ATM. I… I just… I have an overwhelming desire to find one just to vandalize it.

      Mmmmm, chocolate death cupcakes. That’s something I can get behind.

  13. Thank you for addressing this very real problem. The cupcake/frosting ratio is of particular importance to me, but obviously has become an afterthought at this swishy bakeries. I enjoy the sweetness, but I do not want to go into diabetic shock from the 2 foot swirl of frosting on top of the cupcake. And I don’t even have diabetes.

    And the cake not even tasting good?! It’s a cupCAKE. It should taste far more like CAKE than a dixie cup.

    PS – I would argue that cream cheese frosting IS delicious, not just on carrot cake. Spasiba.

    • You know, even as I wrote it I felt there was something else that cream cheese frosting was made for, and it wasn’t until later that I realized that it is amazing on any pumpkin-related cake. Then I thought some more, and I realized that it goes well with any spice-related cake. So I stand corrected on that. I need to amend my statement.

  14. I’m afraid I must disagree, mate. There is no such thing as too much frosting. EVER. And I’m with Amber about the cheesecake frosting. I’d slather that shit on my long-haired dog and eat it. I could be seizing in the death throes of a diabetic coma, but I’d still be shoving fucking frosting in my mouth with my spastic arm – probably missing my mouth hole, yes – but at least I’d die fucking happy. Ahh, cream cheese frosting. Eighteen inches thick. On a long-haired dog. Yep, that’s how I want to go.

    • You know I adore you, Kendall, so I will forgive you this time. Heh. =)

      Mostly my issue is with cream cheese frosting on red velvet cake. I still maintain that it is wrong and evil and Trotskyist. At the end of the day, though, I will not hold your love of over-frosted cupcakes against you….much. 😉

  15. Props for the use of “rapacious”. I laughed, chortled, and even despairingly giggled through your post.

    I’ve avoided the cupcake boutiques that have popped up even here in my shitty city. (One place has a SMART they painted pink and slapped a giant cupcake decal on the sides).

    BUT I must confess to being guilty of this very thing. I’ve made crazy flavored cupcakes (hot pink raspberry) and slathered copious amounts of disgustingly rich frosting on them, then did the ultimate injustice of posting photos of them on my blog. But I must say the Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting are to die for. You can hate me, but I’ll be the one moaning to the gods over how wonderful the combination of caramel and salted buttercream are when I pass on from diabetic shock.

    • OK, well, I’ll have to try that particular cupcake before passing judgment on them. Like, 6 of them. Right now. Because that sounds freaking delicious. I have nothing against crazy flavored cupcakes IF they taste as good as they sound, which is something that the cupcake boutiques have never delivered on when I’ve tried them. So I don’t hate you. Seriously, though, 6, or a dozen. Maybe 2 dozen. Then we’ll be cool.

  16. I know I’m coming half a decade late to this party, but I just had to drop a line to agree with you. Five years on, it’s gotten to the point of idiocy when the frosting (or as we call it in the UK, icing) is 1.5 times heavier than the base cupcake. Top it all off with the other decoration crap and the fact that the frosting is usually buttercream, and the arterial sclerosis that occurs when you take a bite, and you’ve got the perfect heart attack in a muffin.

    I want a cupcake with a wee bit of icing/chocolate/decoration. I don’t want to have to take the cake apart just to eat it.

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