The cupcake chain Crumbs closed abruptly on Monday. Not many are mourning its passage. In fact, there is a distinct edge of glee in response to the close. “Thank jebus, cupcakes are stupid,” a delighted BuzzFeed commenter crows. Gawker celebrates the demise of the cupcake, calling the dessert trend “a ridiculous testament to the power of marketing.”
The cupcake backlash has been going on for years. In 2013, the The Wire called cupcakes “prissy” and a “widely, vocally despised food.” Going further, a psychotherapist told the Washington Post in 2012 that cupcake lovers are narcissistic. “The popularity of cupcakes directly tracks the rise in cultural narcissism that has resulted from the Internet’s impact on our individual and cultural psyche,” Dr. Paul Hokemeyer said. A Jezebel writer simply wrote: “fuck cupcakes.”
That’s an extraordinary amount of vitriol for a pile of flour and sugar! What’s going on seems to be about more than just the confection, which, like any other, some people enjoy eating and others do not. My theory: It’s about a dismissal and dislike of a certain kind of woman. (Hooooooold on, hear me out.) The kind of woman who watches Sex and the City (an important driver of the cupcake trend) and takes the bus tour to Magnolia Bakery. The kind of woman who gets excited about J. Crew catalogs and Instagrams her “glittery cupcake nail art.” The DoubleX Gabfest recently discussed this woman: She’s the basic bitch.
Prissy, narcissistic. These are words that are frequently used to belittle women and the things they enjoy. Foods that are considered masculine—bourbon, bacon, beer—are also considered cool, as are women who like them. But a delicious pink cocktail? Too girly! And, as we know from our fear of little girls loving princess stuff, “girly” is not good.
So: Let’s reclaim the cupcake as a neutral foodstuff, that you can like or dislike just as you’d like or dislike cheese or peaches or beef stroganoff. The passing of Crumbs need not be cause for celebration, but a chance to dredge up our fond memories of cupcake eating. “I was probably like eight when I had my first cupcake,” a friend told me this morning over Gchat. “We didn’t have them growing up (Filipinos have different desserts), and I remember coming home to my mom and telling her how good it was — yellow cake, and vanilla frosting. She asked around found a cupcake recipe and made them for me for like two weeks.”
Do you see, people? Cupcakes are joy. Cupcakes are love. Cupcakes are modern madeleines. Cupcakes are not just a passing fad for basic bitches. Cupcakes are forever.
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