What’s the Next Cupcake?
By Tom Ryan
Some foodies are calling 2010 the “Year of the Cupcake.” The
trend is said to have started in the early part of the last decade after the
stars of Sex in the City, the defunct HBO show, raved about the cupcakes they
would wait in line for at Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village.
cupcake-only bakeries have opened across major cities, and that appears to
have extended to many smaller cities over the last year. It’s also spawned
a big business in cupcake wedding cakes, cupcake cookbooks, and Cupcake
Wars, a hit Food Network reality baking show. And just like other items
that have gone “gourmet” such as coffee, water, mac ‘n’ cheese, and
paninis (which many consider just fancy cheese sandwiches), many rant about
the ability of the shops to fetch $2.50 to $4.00 a cupcake for something
that costs around a quarter to bake at home.
And the business keeps growing. According to a report yesterday in the New
the Crumbs Bake Shop, the country’s largest cupcake chain with 34 locations
in six states, will go public through a $66 million merger with investment
company 57th Street General Acquisition Corporation.
Many attribute the popularity
of this comfort food trend to the recession. Cupcakes stand as a reminder
of childhood birthday parties and less stressful times. They also appeal to
“Cupcakes are a sweet treat and small indulgences, so you feel like you’re
getting something special,” Sandy Nance, who co-manages The Cup in Springfield,
MO., told the News-Leader. “It’s more of an experience.”
store opened in late July, representing its fourth location.
Also helping the
trend is the wide range of potential flavors and decorations for inspired chefs.
The product’s handy take-out size also helps, and many shops offer tinier bite-size
“They’re small, manageable and really a lot of fun,” Jessica Zimmerman
told the News-Leader. She recently began selling her cupcakes at local
farmers markets in Springfield.
Nationwide, cupcake sales are predicted to increase
20 percent through 2013, according Mintel, the Chicago-based market research
Not surprisingly, foodies proclaim cupcakes have run their course and
pallets are ready for something new for 2011. Here, a few food predictions
- Pies: Similar to cupcakes, pies provide a comfort factor, offer
chefs a variety of creative options, and can be made almost bite-size.
- Hot dogs: Creative takes are being made through various toppings,
bread or upgraded beef. (Sausage has also been mentioned as a breakout trend.)
- Meatballs: A sliders or mini-burgers craze in 2010 is expected to
be replaced by meatballs.
- Korean/Street Food: Thanks to taco trucks, Korean tacos became hot
in 2010, but Korean barbecue also grew in appeal. Other multicultural tacos
and portable street food from regions such as South America and Japan are
expected to gain in popularity.
- Salads: A number of fast-food salad restaurants — Tender Greens,
Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, Freshii, M Cafe de Chaya, etc. — have opened
in California, addressing the call for healthier diets.
Discussion Questions: What’s driving the popularity of cupcakes and the success
of cupcake bakeries? What other food trends from 2010 will likely gain momentum
Bakery to Go Public in Merger – New York Times
- The Local (Food) Forecast: Trends often take time to reach Central New
York – syracuse.com
- Cupcake craze – News-Leader
- Food Trends: Canning, men cooking, local – UPI
- Pie’s ascendancy among food trends – Philadelphia Inquirer
- Top Ten Food Trends for 2011 – Pork Magazine
- Top 10 Food Trends for 2011 – Los Angeles Weekly