Cupcakes banned! Or, a response to the end of food at elementary-school birthday parties

August 31, 2011

The cupcake is nearing its end.

I don’t mean those gourmet, boutique cupcakes that still get some people squealing like 13-year-old girls upon hearing the first notes of a song at a middle-school dance.

Those cupcakes don’t seem to be going anywhere. Except for to the Weirdest Mall in America, the eerily quiet Block 37 mall where the famous West Village, Manhattan, Magnolia Bakery is inexplicably setting up shop.

No, I’m talking about real, all-American, craptastic cupcakes.

The supermarket kind. The kind with as much frosting as cupcake. The kind that comes in packs of six or 12 or 24. The kind that tastes cheap...and delicious.

The kind that was made for in-school birthday celebrations.

And hence the reason for cupcakes’ imminent demise.

Yesterday, the e-mail came, out of the blue, into my in-box. The principal of my son’s elementary school — incidentally, one of the most caring and conscientious principals I’ve ever met (and I am not just saying that because my son has five more years there) — had some news.

NO MORE FOOD AT IN-SCHOOL BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS.

Well, he didn’t use all caps, and he did write in full sentences. But that was the way the message hit me: loud and blunt.

Instead, parents can send in birthday favors like stickers, pencils or cards when it’s their child’s birthday. You’re not allowed to put frosting on these items.

The reason for the new policy, which I’m sure you’ve already guessed, is that school officials want to focus more on wellness and nutrition and physical fitness. They apparently look upon monthly or so exercises in gluttony as thwarting those aims.

It’s hard to argue with such good intentions, especially when just this week a major study came out predicting half of all adults will be obese by 2050 and that the other half will have to sit next to them on airplanes.

But...c’mon.

We’re talking about birthdays. Birthdays involve cake. We even have a term for it: birthday cake.

And no school tradition is more endearing than Mom or Dad going on a rushed cupcake run to Jewel 10 minutes before snack time so that their child can be the hero for the day.

This smacks of another in a long line of well-meaning, probably correct societal changes that decrease our chances of head injuries and clogged arteries but diminish life’s enjoyment until those things occur.

From helmets on tricycle riders to dry college campuses, we’re increasing our chances of living longer...so we can celebrate more cake-free birthday parties.

Pretty soon, even at home birthday celebrations, we’ll just hand the birthday child a bunch of lit candles and ask him to blow them out.

None of this, let me make clear, is meant as a harangue against some imagined, so-called nanny state. It’s hard to see what’s wrong with government officials encouraging healthy eating, especially as long they never utter the words Chick-fil-A.

This is about something smaller. A lot smaller. A cupcake.

It may be too late for my son’s school, and for my son. It’s inevitable now that when he gets to college and finally feels free, he will lose all self-control and pound cupcakes until he blacks out or...has a real bad stomachache.

But if you have children, and their school still allows food at birthday parties, hang on to their freedom! Be ever on your guard! Support your local supermarket bakery’s lobbying efforts in D.C.!

And when it’s your kid’s birthday, maybe consider sending in carrot cake.



 

Come see The Interview Show this Friday at The Hideout, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Guests include cartoonist and Big Questions author Anders Nilsen, chef Ryan Poli of the soon-to-open Tavernita, stand-up comedian Cameron Esposito and, celebrating the club's 15th anniversary, the owners of The Hideout! $8.