Food as Pop Culture Icons, Part 1: The Cupcake

January 27, 2009 at 2:37 am 1 comment

Food is something that everyone can talk about. Likes and dislikes, favorite restaurants and quick recipes are conversation topics anyone can freely discuss. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that certain food items have become iconic images splattered across clothing, turned into keychains and even spawned lawsuits.  

In today’s culture, the term “cupcake” has come to mean than just a term of endearment. There are dozens of upscale bakeries in New York City alone. Cupcake bakeries have popped up all over the country and not just in metropolitan cities.

There have been numerous books and Web sites devoted to cupcakes. Chefs and bakers publish books with decorating tips and fancy ideas for indgredients to use in cupcakes. Food magazines publish special issues with full-color photography and recipes submitted from all over the country. Blogs are updated every day with cupcake news and recipes.

Jennifer Appel, a former co-owner of Magnolia Bakery, of “Sex and the City” fame, and current owner of the New York City cupcake shop Buttercup. Appel launched a lawsuit in an attempt to shut down a rivalry bakery in Brooklyn, called Little Cupcake Bakeshop, claiming that the bakery is too similar to her own. The rivalry between the two bakeshops focused more attention on the growing fad. Cupcakes started appearing on clothing and accessories. Cupcakes were becoming stylish, and the lawsuit between the two bakeries intensified the trend.

Appel claims that while she did not invent the cupcake, she spawned the trend in the city. While the trend is definitely spreading thoughout large cities, some still believe that the craze is still young, and that it could blow up to monumental proportions. Buttercup managers have been considering franchises across the country, taking a stronghold in cities where bakeries are already popping up. Sprinkles Cupcakes, a modernist bakery in Beverly Hills, is spreading the trend across the West Coast.

Since so many people are turning to the internet to do their shopping, it’s no surprise that bakeries are trying to figure out a way to safely and efficiently ship their goods through the mail. An article in the Washington Post reported about cupcake shops trying to expand their business into the online realm by offering the option for customers to order cupcakes online and having them delivered. Nostalgia and ease make the cupcake a popular, trendy item to eat on an everyday basis or make the centerpiece of a party.

In other cupcake news, the AP recently released a video about how cupcake bakeries are faring in the economy. I think it’s an interesting commentary on how food factors in the current recession.


Entry filed under: Food and Pop Culture.

Virtual Foodie (or, Foodie 2.0) Food on TV

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Dr. R  |  January 30, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Good start. But be sure to post weekly.

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