You know cupcakes have become a matter of serious cultural concern when the sober, no-sprinkles New York Times Week in Review section devotes some significant column inches to the question: Whither the cupcake? The opening sentence does not disappoint: “The cupcake is at something of a crossroads.”
The story breaks down the cupcake wars: Either the confections are retro, pint-sized, scrumptious, and absolutely acceptable in quantities fewer than a half dozen, or they’re starter drugs for a lifetime of diabetes. (Further down, the Times gets extremely insidery with the question, “Can the cupcake loyalist support the sale of a chocolate Guinness cupcake with green-tea cream-cheese frosting?”)
As schools pay more attention to what their pupils are eating, more than a few districts have attempted to stop cupcakes from being served. That’s provoked a response from parents and students that nutritionist Marion Nestle calls “the cupcake problem”: Cupcakes have become the stand-in symbol for obesity correctness run amuck. As the Times notes, the Texas Legislature has even passed the Safe Cupcake Amendment, which declares the cupcake sacrosanct and almost certainly what they ate at the Alamo.
When you serve cupcakes, everyone is special. A cupcake is a gift, neatly and deliciously wrapped. And everyone at the party gets one. You don’t share a cupcake (unless you’re weird). And you don’t have to wait awkwardly while uneven and imperfect slices are passed around the table (‘I only want a little sliver!’ ‘No, no. I couldn’t possibly eat that much!’). Cupcakes are democratic.
That cupcake-democracy meme is out there. Rachel Kramer Bussel, she of the somewhat-cupcake-focused blog Cupcakes Take the Cake, wrote an op-ed for Newsday on cupcakes on the same day as the Times think-piece—there’s some sort of Long Island “cupcake crackdown” hook that is catching editors—which includes the sentence, “The cupcake is the most democratic of desserts.”
If that’s the case, someone should really ask Mike Huckabee where he stands on the subject.