Experts are not sure of the cupcake’s origins. Lots of niggling questions muddy the research: do muffins count? what about cakes cooked in smaller ramekins? So, we cannot raise our petite pastries to a particular person or culture and thank them for sparing us from the pressure to eat an entire cake.
There are, however, a few parties (pun intended) who helped make the cupcake the vogue dessert of choice. 19th century England loved their “fairy cakes”, which were small cakes fit for a small fairy (no puns intended there). The “patty cake”, Australia’s version, also offered a cake for one.
And we cannot forget Hostess and its “snack cakes,” most notably the Ding Dong. This must have been a low point for the cupcake. Sure the Ding Dong was popular, but what a horrid name. Was Hostess really saying that the cupcake was the dunce of the dessert world?
Thankfully, Sprinkles, “the original cupcake bakery”, infused the treats with a little glamour in 2003, and now gourmet cupcakes are all the rage. Their cause is championed by celebrities like Katie Holmes and Marcia Cross (never mind that they look like they just chew a bite and spit it out).
So what is the appeal of the cupcake?
It is your very own cake. Not a slice–sometimes cut unfairly–of a larger cake. And for that reason, they seem friendly and much more personal. Especially in the hands of creative bakers.
The cupcake honors the golden rule of technology: remember the person…and then it puts icing on top.
Happy Cupcake Day!