Wednesday, August 25, 2010

cupcakes, cupcake trucks and lots of capital letters.

Taking a look at this reminded me of my anger about this whole cupcake frenzy.  Frenzy?  Is frenzy the right word?  I'm not sure.  It could be a frenzy because I have the summer off (almost over by the way) and I read a lot of local food blogs and I have plenty of time to ponder ridiculousness.  But I want to ring in on this - so for me, frenzy is the right word.

I like cupcakes.  I make cupcakes.  I sometimes buy cupcakes.  I have to say that the best I have ever purchased were from a place that wasn't even playing the whole cupcake game.  Last year our friend, Heather brought us a box of cupcakes from the Bread Basket in Saratoga and still to this day, none have rivaled them.  She brought them as dessert for some meal I was making friends and we never got to them, which meant that Chuck and I got to them systematically in the days after, and each one was amazingly delicious and totally different from the last.  Since then, a cupcake "frenzy" has exploded over Albany and surrounding areas.  And we were late to the party, as usual.  NYC did the cupcake thing eons ago - the trend has since moved on (from what I can tell - to frozen yogurt and noodle shops).  But we are North and we are Slow and we dig things with butter and sugar so it is here.

And here we are.  Now there are cupcake trucks.  And they park in places so people can meet them there and buy cupcakes.  And they tweet where they are and Facebook where they are going and email and call and print and yell:  THE CUPCAKE TRUCK WILL BE IN SUCH AND SUCH PARKING LOT FROM 12 - 3.  COME AND GETCHER DELICIOUS MORSELS OF DECADENCE.

And it's a cute idea.  And buying things out of trucks can always be awesome and sometimes exciting.  But my problem lies with the fact that THEY AREN'T THAT GOOD.  And on top of that - THEY COST TOO MUCH FOR NOT BEING THAT GOOD.

Listen - I will pay an obscene amount of money for something that tastes good.  With that I have no problem.  No matter how trendy it is, or obnoxious or fattening or whatever.  But if it is not worth it - everything goes to hell.  The whole concept will start to annoy me, as the cupcake frenzy has begun to.

Maybe it is because I had a bad trip to a cupcake place this summer where I recieved bad service, crumbly, uncreative, old-tasting cupcakes, a HORRIFIC excuse for a root beer float and a more than disgusting excuse for an egg cream and I overpaid for the whole shebang to boot!  This has possibly made me bitter.  But after that experience, I got mad.  All this business did was cupcakes.  IT'S ALL THEY DID (besides the bad drinks).  If you do ONE THING - shouldn't you be able to perfect it so it is so awesome people almost drop dead from the experience?  ONE THING!  I mean, restaurants make hundreds of things, and good ones do a great job at it.  But a cupcakery does ONE THING.  So do it RIGHT.  Sheesh.  I should be goddamn swooning over these things and I was less than impressed.  AND YOU DON'T NEED SOME SORT OF FANCY PALETTE TO ENJOY A CUPCAKE EITHER!  It's not that complex!

Whew.  I am apparently hitting a nerve in this entry.  But I can't HELP it!  Are business owners just not honest with themselves?  Do they not snag some product out of the case every once in awhile and check it out for themselves?  Do their customers have no taste buds?  Do they give NO feedback?  Are they just "trying to be nice"?  Because - customers...your "niceness" is ruining your own experience.  Say when something sucks.  It's an owner's JOB to make it better.

I think the other issue I have is these places have the gall to charge 3, 4 or 5 bucks per cupcake.  For real?  Do you people understand the markup on these things?  THEY SHOULD HAVE GOLD FLECKS IN THEM FOR THAT PRICE!  And they are small.  Well, not small.  They are regular sized.  They are not jumbo.  They should be jumbo.  Jumbo and delicious.  And they are not.

And this is why I am mad.  We are collectively making a fuss about mediocrity.  It's like when parents make a big deal about something their kid did that really is not that impressive: 

"Can you believe little Johnny picked up the magazine and said 'Mommy there are words in here'?  Is that the MOST PRECIOUS THING you ever heard?  He is so smart I can't stand it! Because there ARE words in there.  A magazine is FULL OF WORDS.   He is going to grow up to be Bill Gates!  BILL GATES I TELLYA!"

Ugh.  And then comes the part where I have to agree.  But I don't.  Just like the cupcake thing.

I.  Don't.  Agree.

I will end this entry with a picture of Chuck and I eating one of the cupcakes purchased from the Bread Basket so long ago.  They were great.  And inventive.  And large.  And I want more.  I am heading up to 'Toga this weekend and on my way from Albany I will pass at least THREE cupcake places that I know of (probably many more that make cupcakes but don't have trucks or labs or buses) and I plan to keeeeeep on driving.  And go get some deliciousness from Bread Basket.  Hopefully, they are still as good as I remember.


  1. yes yes!
    fun idea:
    a whirlwind tour of
    greek diner pastry cases.
    many of them thar places do their
    baking on site and the cases always
    drive me nuts they lookin so good.
    i dare me to do it!
    i mean, you. i dare you!
    - lo fri

  2. You've summed up the cupcake problem precisely. I haven't had the Bread Basket's, but next time I'm in Saratoga, I'll try to stop by.

    I've had cupcakes from two of the local trucks and both had dry cake and were much too expensive. Actually, I bought a cupcake yesterday from the Fresh Market that was really good. It was jumbo sized, cost $1.50, and was moist and delicious. And I didn't have to chase a truck to find it.

  3. hey lofri! i love the idea of a pastry cases! i bet my friend elizabeth would do that with me! must discuss.

  4. back - gotta try the fresh market soon. there are delicious cupcakes to be found! and cheaply!

    i have seriously considered making a batch and parking near the cupcake truck in my mini and selling mine for a dollar cheaper. mini cupcakery at mini prices!

  5. cept your cupcakes are far from mini
    thus a mini sandwich:
    mini cupcakery selling giant cupcakes at mini prices.
    lo fri

  6. I agree wholeheartedly with everything here. I can whip up a dozen really tasty cupcakes for the price of one craptastic cupcake... although now I'm curious about the cupcakes at Bread Basket.

  7. lilli - check 'em out! although it's travers weekend so maybe wait until you find yourself in the area after this mess of a weekend.