Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2011, at 12:35 PM
I love cupcakes. Cupcakes are wonderful. Sometimes I eat cupcakes for breakfast. But cupcakes have gone badly astray.
Here is a banana cupcake from a popular New York bakery specializing in cupcakes. I stood in line to buy it:
And here is the cupcake sliced in half.
This thing being sold as a cupcake stands 2 1/4 inches tall. Of that, at least 3/4 inch is a giant wad of frosting. In the middle of the cupcake, where the cake part is dented in to make room for even more frosting, the frosting is more than an inch deep—half the height of the cupcake.
This is not even unusually thick for a trendy cupcake. There were other varieties at the bakery with even higher mounds of frosting on them.
And it is revolting. You can barely taste the cake when you eat it, lost as it is in a slick of sugared fat. The difference between eating a normal cupcake and eating one of these things is the difference between licking the spoon after making cookies and squeezing premade raw cookie dough into your mouth from the tube.
Except the cookie dough at least would fit through your jaws. Why is the cupcake piled so high with frosting that you can't even bite into the whole thing?
It's symbolic. It doesn't fit into a person's mouth because it is eating-disorder food. It is food for people whose ideas of pleasure and vice are so twisted up that they can't imagine a sweet treat of normal proportions, something a person might eat two or three of (for breakfast, maybe) without feeling nauseated.
It is a cupcake for people who hate cupcakes. I scraped the frosting off this one and weighed it. The original cupcake was 87 grams. The frosting weighed in at 27 grams—allowing for the frosting that didn't make it onto the scale, that means one-third of the total cupcake weight was frosting.
Then, because I was hungry, I spread some of the frosting back on the cupcake, enough to make a smooth, appetizing layer. There were still 19 grams left over. More than 20 percent of the cupcake's weight was pure excess.
I started eating the modified cupcake. It was delicious. Someone should open a bakery selling cupcakes like that. Alongside them, it could sell frosting alone, in paper cups with spoons, for the people who insist on eating that way.
At the end, for the sake of empiricism and fairness, I added more of the leftover frosting, to taste this particular cupcake the way the bakery intended it to be tasted. The last bite was gross.