Remember When… Cupcakes Were Just for Kids?

Think back to your elementary school days.  Were you one of the “lucky ones” whose birthday happened to fall on a school day?  If your parents were anything like mine, this probably meant having the honor of bringing your class a huge batch of store-bought (or on the rare occasion, homemade) cupcakes.  Right now you’re probably picturing them, covered in sprinkles and icing that turned your mouth bright colors, maybe decorated with plastic Barbie or Spider-Man rings that everyone would wear for the rest of the day.  Back then cupcakes could make you king or queen for a day, at least in the eyes of your classmates.


Nowadays cupcakes have a different reputation.  An exceptional batch could win you $10,000 and instant fame.  Thanks to television programs that highlight the new art of cupcake baking, these mini treats are taking the country by storm, and it’s not just the kids that are buying in.

In 2010, the show “Cupcake Wars” began airing on the Food Network.  Each episode brings together 4 top-rated cupcake bakers from across the country to compete for $10,000 and the chance to debut their cupcakes to crowds of America’s elite at events such as awards shows and charity parties.  The list of ingredients these bakers are given ranges from fruits and nuts to chili peppers and vodka and the finished products are a far cry from the yellow cake and chocolate icing of our childhood.

The popularity of cupcakes is rapidly spreading and the evidence is popping up in cities nationwide.  Cupcake bakeries that specialize in traditional, exotic, and chic flavors are now conveniently located next to your favorite coffee shops and boutiques.  These bakeries are rebranding the phenomenon of the cupcake with unique flavors and styling that aim to please a more adult crowd.  Not only are they a pleasure for the palate, but cupcakes these days are like a new accessory.  They can be as high-end as the bakeries that produce them and the clientele that consume them.   A cupcake bakery called Georgetown Cupcakes, also famous for a television show that airs on TLC called “DC Cupcakes,” has catered to clients such as Kim Kardashian.

ImageHowever, it’s not just the ingredients or the celebrity that make cupcakes more appealing to adults.  Now, anyone over the legal drinking age can partake in fine cupcake-inspired wine and vodka produced by Cupcake Vineyards.  Why not pair your cupcake with a glass of wine?  Bakeries and other specialty shops now host cupcake and wine tasting events where adults can mingle and the two indulgences can be enjoyed side by side.

So is this new trend something to expect from all of our childhood favorites? Will popsicles be the next big thing?  Leave it to the media to help us decide.  Until then we might as well have our cake, and eat it too. Bon appétit!

Ally Walton, Lauren HabigErin Kiffmeyer, Hannah EureGene Lee