Posted in Commentary, Desert Life

The Great Cupcake Fiasco of 2009

Last Saturday I was out running errands, including a stop at Bed, Bath and Beyond for some tablecloths.  I have been seized by design-and-declutter mania recently, and have been working on little and big projects (like cleaning out the junk drawers and cabinets and repainting my bathroom) to make our house look spiffy.  (I threw out a fistful of Allen wrenches.  Why do we keep these things?  Anything that will require one always comes with it.)  I pulled into the parking lot and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a new little shop next to the BB&B called “Cupcakes.”

I like cupcakes.  A lot.  The only thing better than food is miniature food.  Somehow, a cupcake tastes just a little bit better than a slice of cake.  I don’t know why; it’s one of the great mysteries of the universe.  Maybe it’s because there’s something decadent about having a personal cake just for you.

I determined to venture into this purported purveyor of gourmet gateaus in miniature as soon as I finished at the other store and pick up dessert for Scott and me.  I have read in the People magazine of these little boutique cupcake places popping up in L.A., where the rich and famous get fancy oversized cupcakes.  (I do love me some celebrity gossip.  It’s unseemly, but there it is.)

Tablecloths in hand (or bag, rather), I walked into the sparkling cupcake joint to find a single, somewhat empty, display case of cupcakes on the far side of a sparkling shop.  The 12-year-old manning the front counter asked me if I’d been there before, and I said no, and she asked if I wanted her to explain what they had.  I said yes, and braced myself for the expected panoply of cupcakey choices that would make my head spin and my mouth water.  Bring it on, girly!

“Well, these are chocolate cake with vanilla frosting.  These are all vanilla.  These are all vanilla with sprinkles.  These are vanilla with chocolate frosting.  And then down here, we have vanilla and vanilla…oh, and these are all-vanilla, too.”

I shit you not.

So I had 6 choices of “gourmet” cupcakes, 4 of which were vanilla with vanilla frosting, and the most daring gourmet option involved a bit of chocolate.  Where was the carrot cake?  How ‘bout red velvet cake?  How about…stand back…chocolate with chocolate???  No?  And since when do sprinkles qualify as “gourmet” anything?

The thing is, I’m not averse to chocolate and vanilla in any permutations of frosting and cake you care to come up with, but when you’re advertising “Gourmet Cupcakes,” you’ve kind of set an expectation, non?  To make matters a bit more disappointing, these were NOT the size of the celebrity cupcakes I’ve seen in the People magazine.  They were exactly the same size cupcakes anyone in America makes in a standard muffin tin.

Still, I hadn’t entirely given up on the idea.  I mean, they were still cupcakes, and as such, inherently good.  Until I searched for the price.  $3.25 for a single standard-sized cupcake.  For $3.25, I can buy the mix AND the frosting and have 2 dozen cupcakes.  And you know, Duncan Hines offers plenty of flavors beyond chocolate and vanilla.   I walked out without cupcakes, feeling tricked out of my treat.  It’s very sad.

What is not sad, however, is this dinosaur, which lives at the McDonald’s not far from my house.


This McDonald’s was built during the Jurassic Park craze, and this T. Rex is not the only dinosaur on the premises.  It has the added benefit of being a local landmark.  When I tell people to hang a left at the dinosaur McDonald’s, everyone knows what I mean.  It even says “Dinosaur McDonald’s” on their receipts.  But what I really love is that he gets dressed up for Halloween every year.  He doesn’t seem to have his ghost sheet this year, but he’s still ready for candy.  Rawr!

I hope you have have a happy Halloween, and get lots of treats.  Even if they’re not cupcakes.  Not that I’m bitter or anything.



I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.

4 thoughts on “The Great Cupcake Fiasco of 2009

  1. Your cupcake misadventure is a textbook case of what not to do in retail business ventures. I’m glad you didn’t support their ridiculousness. Everything about this “gourmet” store is outrageous.

    Dub and I visit that costume-bedecked T. Rex every year. We love that crazy guy. And, right across the street, on the corner lightpost, is a witch who ran into the pole — we like that one, too.

  2. Don’t dog on the gourmet cupcake shop. I mean, mad props to the 12 year old girl that was able to raise enough venture capital for her business. That fact, in and of itself, is quite remarkable and is fundamentally more important than sub-gourmet quality of her cupcakes. I wish more tweens had such vision and drive.

    I want a cool dinosaur McDonalds.

    Lastly… “I determined to venture into this purported purveyor of gourmet gateaus in miniature…” Gold star on that phrase.

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