Is "the New Cupcake" the Cupcake?
Macarons are the "new cupcake." Or is it pie? Or how about cake balls? No, it's going to be doughnuts. But, what about popsicles?
Photo by Nate Steiner via Flickr Why are cupcakes still popular?
This has been the non-stop conversation over the cupcake trend since the personal-sized treats topped with a swirl of frosting became popular in the early 2000s. Despite several "new cupcakes" making their appearance in the baked goods market, the cupcake remains the favorite.
A recent Slate article tracked every single food that has ever been labeled as the cupcake's replacement over the past eight years and found that 57 foods were called "the new cupcake" in news articles. In March and April 2010, nine different publications said macarons were the new "it" dessert -- we even supported that claim this past year.
But, if all of these sweets and treats (some were savory, like burgers and hot dogs) were supposed to knock cupcakes off the totem pole, then why haven't bakeries stopped selling them? And why haven't all the cupcakeries gone out of business? We spoke with several bakery owners who all sell cupcakes, whether it's alongside other products or their only product, to share their thoughts on the trend, and if they think the cupcake is on its way out the door.
Drew Rogers, baker and owner of Drew's Pastry Place, originally hated cupcakes; when he opened his bakery, he refused to sell them, even though customers often asked him if he had them on the menu. It wasn't until Buddy Valastro, "Cake Boss," helped him revitalize his bakery that he realized he needed to sell cupcakes. Rogers was featured on Bakery Boss earlier this year.
Photo by Molly Dunn Drew Rogers proudly holds his cannoli cupcake creation.
Despite not liking cupcakes, he owes a lot of credit to the addition of these desserts to the overall sales at Drew's Pastry Place. In fact, Rogers says when people come to his shop to buy a cupcake, they end up buying more products. The cannoli cupcake was invented on his episode of Buddy's Bakery Rescue, so many customers visit his shop specifically for that item.
"I am 'in' with the cupcake thing, but if people are doing just cupcakes, I can see where they maybe are not making it, because they need other things besides cupcakes," Rogers says. "I would say stores that are just doing cupcakes, beware. But, if you are adding other stuff besides cupcakes, I think it's still good."
Vanessa O'Donnell, baker and owner of Ooh La La Sweets, originally had intentions to only sell cupcakes.
"So when we opened our store seven years ago, I was just going to do cupcakes, but then it hit me that cupcakes would eventually fade," O'Donnell says. "Because we sell over 80 desserts and not just cupcakes, I would say cupcakes are probably 45 to 50 percent of my sales, so it is still pretty high. We brought on macarons; I know at one time pies were going to be the next big thing and rice krispies treats, but I still think our cupcakes hold their own."
Photo by Joanna O'Leary The S'mores cupcake at Ooh La La Sweets is a fan-favorite.
O'Donnell attributes her successful sales to the fact that one cupcake is a small indulgence and it's a convenient dessert to have for yourself or take to a party. Additionally, cupcakes are small comfort foods that people recognize and return to her store for.
Cutting into a cake at a birthday or other celebration can also be a messy task. Rogers and O'Donnell both agree that the ease of bringing cupcakes instead of a whole cake or other dessert reduces stress. Not to mention, it's helpful to bring multiple flavors so everyone can have what they want.
10300 Louetta Road, Houston, TX