Okay, but seriously, what’s the deal with cupcakes?
In the past few years, they’ve gone from just another bakery item to glamorous pieces of TV lauded and Pinterest-beloved art.
We know they’re delicious and magical like they were made by unicorns, but why cupcakes? Why not scones or biscotti or muffins? Let’s unwrap this mystery together, shall we?
Cupcakes: Their Origins & Rise in Pop Culture
Like every superhero, cupcakes have an origin story. Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the tasty treat.
- Cupcakes evolved in the U.S. in the 19th century.
- They rose to prominence because they saved time and weren’t as likely to burn in hearth ovens.
- Muffin tins (called “gem pads”) grew in popularity around the 20th century.
- Cupcakes either got their names because they were made in cups or measured out by the cup originally. We’re not sure. (Source: All About Cupcakes.)
Though they’ve been around forever, they became trendy somewhere around 2011.
We’ve seen three separate TV shows about them—Cupcake Girls, Cupcake Wars, and DC Cupcakes.
They’ve even graced the big screen. Who who can forget that heartbreaking scene in Bridesmaids where Kristen Wiig makes and eats a cupcake alone in her kitchen?
Speaking of sad cupcakes, if you haven’t seen grave-faced Keanu Reeves eat them, you are missing out.
So why has the cupcake become so illustrious? Well, here’s a few ideas . . .
Theory #1: Easy, Fun, & Lots of Choices
To get some concrete answers, I turned to local experts. First was Valerie, owner of The Amazing Cupcake which will be opening this October in Green Bay.
After 30 years of baking, she decided to jump on cupcakes because they’re fun and versatile. You have a lot of room to experiment, and Valerie’s made cupcakes that are pumpkin, maple, lemon meringue, and Door County chocolate covered cherry. Just to name a few.
They’re also easy. Easy to make, easy to eat, and easy to clean up. Got a bride who loves chocolate and a groom who loves vanilla? Cupcakes to the rescue!
“They’re phenomenal, they’re amazing. That’s why we’re called The Amazing Cupcake,” Valerie says.
Theory #2: Guilt Free Indulgence
Next, I spoke with Lynne Krueger who owns and operates Fat Girlz Bakin in Appleton along with a silent business partner.
It started in the winter farmers market and moved to downtown just under two months ago.
When I spoke with her, Lynne said cupcakes are a great alternative to cake because you can still decorate them, but they’re easier to clean up and bring home.
But most of all, people love the individuality of the treat. It’s theirs. They can take it home, save it for later, and they DON’T have to share.
They’re also so small you don’t have to feel guilty when you eat one!
“It’s a little piece of heaven that they can have and not feel like, ‘Oh my gosh I’m going to have to run a marathon to work this off,” Lynne says.
Theory #3: Pandora’s Cupcake
Both of these ladies are clearly very wise, but I’d like to add another theory into the mix.
Recent years have seen the organic, holistic, healthy, traceable, sustainable food movement find its way into the mainstream.
Which is awesome, don’t get me wrong. Eating healthy food makes you feel great and can still be delicious. Still, every once in a while we can’t help but feel like we’re missing out.
Cupcakes are Pandora’s Box. They are the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. We know we shouldn’t, but how could we possibly resist?
And if we’re going to cheat on our diets, what better way to do it than with a tiny, perfect, indulgent work of art. Honestly, it feels better than grabbing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
When it comes down to it, there is something that tastes as good as being skinny feels.
And that thing is cupcakes.
Who Wants a Cupcake Now?
I sure do! If you’re looking for cupcakes in Northeast Wisconsin, check out our slideshow!
What Did We Miss?
There’s a lot of great cupcakes places in good old Badger state. Did we miss your favorite? Leave a comment below!