WBEZ | cupcakes http://www.wbez.org/tags/cupcakes Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The battle of the pastries: Doughnuts vs. cupcakes http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/battle-pastries-doughnuts-vs-cupcakes-100437 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F53957764&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mollyscupcakes%20flickr.kevin%20chang.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 414px; " title="A cupcake from Molly's Cupcakes. (Flickr/Kevin Chang)" /></div><p>In June 2009, TruTv&#39;s blog network pitted writer Rachel Kramer Bussel (of <a href="http://cupcakestakethecake.blogspot.com/">Cupcakes Take The Cake</a>) against writer Adam Wade to decide which was better: the cupcake or the doughnut. They ultimately &quot;agreed to disagree&quot; (a cop-out if I&#39;ve ever heard one), but voters decided that the cupcake argument was stronger,<a href="http://blog.trutv.com/dumb_as_a_blog/2009/06/the-notsogreat-debate-cupcakes-versus-donuts.html"> 41 percent to 30</a>.</p><p>What&#39;s there to glean from this relatively trivial and unscientific battle? That cupcakes vs. doughnuts are the latest contenders in the dessert wars. For WBEZ&#39;s <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/">Curious City</a>, Claire Reeder wondered, <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/archive/question/10">&quot;Who decides what the next hot pastry is?&quot;</a></p><p>A quick history: The cupcake trend apparently began about five years ago. <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2009/09/the_cupcake_bubble.html">Writing for<em> Slate</em></a>, Daniel Gross explained that, &quot;The current recession, which started in late 2007, laid the groundwork for the recent proliferation of cupcake stores in American cities. Lots of people know how to make really tasty cupcakes, which are simple products with cheap basic ingredients.&quot;</p><p>The doughnut trend seemed to spark off not long after that, around 2008 (though probably earlier, since the <em>New York Times</em> article on <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/magazine/05food-t.html?_r=2&amp;ref=magazine&amp;oref=slogin">the subject was written that year</a>, and we know that once it&#39;s the topic of a <em>New York Times</em> trend piece, it&#39;s probably been a thing <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/NYTOnIt">for a while</a>). Coincedentally, that was a month after <a href="http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/09/04/will-cupcakes-be-the-next-krispy-kreme/">the <em>Times</em> wondered</a> if the cupcake industry had become too crowded &mdash; and used Krispy Kreme as an example of a company that had suffered because of overproliferation.</p><p>In Chicago, cupcakes seem to still be ubiquitous. Shops you&#39;ll happen upon during a walk around the city include (but are very much not limited to) Crumb&rsquo;s, Cupcake Counter, Sugar Bliss, Sprinkles, Magnolia Bakery and Molly&#39;s Cupcakes.</p><p>In 2011, <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2011/02/06/donut_vs_cupcake_the_battle_for_chi.php">Josh Mogerman of <em>Chicagoist</em></a>&nbsp;bemoaned this loss, wondering: &quot;Have cupcakes crowded doughnuts out of the City of Chicago? Are those treats now relics of a more yeasty yesteryear?&quot; Which would imply that contrary to how it appeared elsewhere, doughnuts came first; cupcakes, second.</p><p>To see all the hubbub surrounding the Doughnut Vault, which was<a href="http://www.foodandwine.com/slideshows/americas-best-doughnuts">&nbsp;named one of America&#39;s best donuts by Food &amp; Wine magazine</a>&nbsp;after a year of operation, would imply otherwise. The lines are so long that it took Christopher Borrelli of the&nbsp;<em>Tribune</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-04-12/food/ct-live-0413-doughnut-vault-lines-20110412_1_doughnuts-rain-check-line">five tries to finally get his fix</a>, after which he quips, &quot;Six doughnuts: $17. Never again.&nbsp;Besides, aren&#39;t meatballs the new thing?&quot;</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/2I-PtWtKI8g" width="560"></iframe></p><p style="text-align: center; "><span style="font-size:11px;"><em>A loving homage to the Doughnut Vault by Mode Project</em></span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JMPurePastry_Orb_12.jpg" style="float: left; width: 300px; height: 300px; " title="One of Jimmy MacMillan's confections. (Courtesy of JMPurePastry)" />Perhaps meatballs are the new thing (though hopefully not for breakfast or dessert). But who decides such things? As a youth, I was a huge fan of cooking shows, but it never occurred to me that Jacques Torres could be changing the world with his fantastical fixations, like <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-jqnqZdGr0">this ridiculous spun sugar witches hat for Halloween</a>. Does the trickle-down theory work when it comes to dessert trends?</p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.5515543504152447"><span style="vertical-align: baseline; ">Wednesday on <em>Afternoon Shift</em>, we tried to get the answer to that question from WBEZ&#39;s food blogger Louisa Chu, who, when I first asked her about this topic, reminded me that &quot;they keep trying to say macarons or whoopie pies are next.&quot;&nbsp;We also talked with&nbsp;</span></span><a href="http://jmpurepastry.blogspot.com/">Jimmy MacMillan</a>, who is an executive pastry chef who organizes the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chicago-Restaurant-Pastry-Competition/207043465987713">Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition</a> (the 2nd annual event takes place this September).</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s interesting to think that there may be one chef or creative think-tank that&#39;s responsible for the next coolest trends, but it&#39;s not so simple,&quot; said MacMillan. &quot;It&#39;s kind of a collective unconscious of chefs working always to do things that are interesting for themselves. And a lot of your childhood memories come into play as we know, and then a way to refine those. So at some point, we all kind of come to the same conclusions.&quot;</p><p>&quot;For donuts, there&#39;s been a few examples out there, like the Doughnut Plant in New York City and you kind of think &#39;Wow, why don&#39;t we have those in Chicago?&#39;&quot; he continued. &quot;And now we do; we have lots of wonderful donuts.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I think it is actually chefs working who kind of push the envelope,&quot; said Chu. &quot;The other side too is also actually food media. It&#39;s kind of us who are out here who are covering the trends. And then also, what looks good -- well, that kind of sells a lot -- and us eaters. I know that chefs and the food media there for awhile have been saying &#39;Cupcakes are dead!&#39;&quot;</p><p>Chu clarified: &quot;It&#39;s a lot of different sources, but I&#39;d love to find that Wizard of Oz pastry chef too.&quot;</p><p>But how do these trends get to Chicago? Or do they start here?</p><p>&quot;It is somewhat true that when I travel the coasts, you do see some things first,&quot; said MacMillan. &quot;Chicago&#39;s great at innovating what&#39;s already out there. So if a Chicago chef does something, we&#39;re hyper-creative, so we&#39;re probably going to do it in a different way, and we have our own way and we have our own clientele and we have that thing that we&#39;re known for and that&#39;s for being dynamic and changing it and I can&#39;t think of any better group to be with. So sometimes it starts on the coasts...but things are out there and they&#39;re floating around and they end up in Chicago when the time is right.&quot;</p><p>MacMillan has his own prediction for the new trend, one that was surprising to Chu: &quot;Gelato in ways that you&#39;ve never seen before,&quot; he said. &quot;Molded gelato for plated dessert; magnificent flavors of much higher quality...Cupcakes are familiar, donuts are familiar, but this style of frozen dessert gelato will be organic, small farm, very artisan, &nbsp;hormone-free dairy, small batches. It&#39;ll be fantastic.&quot;</p><p>And though Chu was surprised by MacMillan&#39;s answer (though she quickly cited Swiss Chard gelato as something that&#39;s been done in Europe), question-asker Claire Reeder wasn&#39;t.</p><p>&quot;I kind of had a sense that this might be it....it&#39;s really hot around here right now. Everybody&#39;s looking for something cold. I&#39;ve seen some gelato places pop up, so I&#39;ll have to keep my eyes peeled.&quot;&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 27 Jun 2012 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/battle-pastries-doughnuts-vs-cupcakes-100437 Cupcakes banned! Or, a response to the end of food at elementary-school birthday parties http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2011-08-31/cupcakes-banned-or-response-end-food-elementary-school-birthday-parties-9 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-30/Chocolate_cupcakes.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-30/Chocolate_cupcakes.jpg" style="width: 501px; height: 326px;" title=""></p><p>The cupcake is nearing its end.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>No, I’m talking about real, all-American, craptastic cupcakes.</p><p>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.</p><p>The kind that was made for in-school birthday celebrations.</p><p>And hence the reason for cupcakes’ imminent demise.</p><p>Yesterday, the e-mail came, out of the blue, into my in-box. The principal of my son’s elementary school —&nbsp;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) —&nbsp;had some news.</p><p>NO MORE FOOD AT IN-SCHOOL BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>But...c’mon.</p><p>We’re talking about birthdays. Birthdays involve cake. We even have a term for it: birthday cake.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.</p><p>This is about something smaller. A lot smaller. A cupcake.</p><p>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.</p><p>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.!</p><p>And when it’s your kid’s birthday, maybe consider sending in carrot cake.</p><br> <hr><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Come see <em>The Interview Show</em> this Friday at <a href="http://www.hideoutchicago.com">The Hideout</a>, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Guests include cartoonist and <em>Big Questions</em> 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.</p></p> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 09:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/mark-bazer/2011-08-31/cupcakes-banned-or-response-end-food-elementary-school-birthday-parties-9 German chocolate cupcakes come to Sprinkles http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/german-chocolate-cupcakes-come-sprinkles <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Sprinkles_Scoop.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="487" width="400" alt="" title="German Chocolate Cupcakes" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-12/Sprinkles_Scoop.jpg" /></p><p>If cupcakes are so 2009, the people at <a href="http://www.sprinkles.com/index.html">Sprinkles Cupcakes</a> aren't too worried. They're unveiling their newest flavor, <a href="http://www.sprinkles.com/calendar/german-choco.html">German Chocolate</a>, which joins their 25-plus cupcake lineup nationwide tomorrow.</p><p>&quot;We have&nbsp;a lot&nbsp;of demand for it, &quot; said Sprinkles General Manager Emily&nbsp;Antrainer&nbsp;of the new flavor's inspiration. &quot;It's one of the most popular suggestions that comes up all the time, so we figured, let's do it!&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>If Tuesday night's free sneak peak of the newest addition is any indication, local cupcake connoisseurs&nbsp;will make sure German Chocolate becomes a regular flavor in the company's repertoire.&quot;I love cupcakes,&quot; said Amber Gibson, a cupcake enthusiast who trekked to the Gold Coast spot from Evanston just for a taste. &quot;You hear about chocolate, you hear about coconut, but never both.&quot;</p><p>German Chocolate will soon be joined by <a href="http://www.sprinkles.com/calendar/red-hot.html">Red HOT Velvet</a> and <a href="http://www.sprinkles.com/calendar/raspberry_cc.html">Raspberry Chocolate Chip</a> flavors just in time for Valentine's Day, plus an Irish Chocolate flavor in the days leading up to St. Patrick's Day.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 18:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/german-chocolate-cupcakes-come-sprinkles