For the love of cupcakes

by Ben on February 13, 2011 · 42 comments

in Index, Video

Sweetness, sweetness I was only joking
When I said I’d like to
Smash every tooth in your head
—The Smiths

I‘ll admit it. I actually feel sorry for the little bastards. It seems like just yesterday—Halloween, in fact—that cupcakes still held their suffocating grasp on the hearts of America. They were on top of the world, dominating blog conversation, appearing spread-eagled on glossy magazines nationwide, having what used to be an exclusive feature on the internet’s top food property… It seemed that the Cupcake Empire was well on its way to reaching Starbucksian proportions.

And then.

They began to feel some pushback in ’09 in the form of well-publicized pot shots from food cognoscenti David Chang and Jason Sheehan, in each case weathering them with aplomb. After all, who cares if the Class Nerds have issues with an It girl’s lengthy tenure? But by then end of 2010, everyone, from NPR to The New York Times, had gotten in on the action. Observe:

The New Cupcake: Macaroons vs. Whoopie Pies
Pie to Cupcake: Time’s Up
Cupcakes are Over Make Room For Pie
Move Over, Cupcake: Make Way For The Macaroon Etc.

Meanwhile, we saw what can now clearly be interpreted as a cry for help: Cupcakes, unveiling a curvier-than-usual look, sporting shockingly tight-fitting liners emblazoned with jolly rogers, and going seriously downmarket with a sprinkle of candied, lo-sodium Spam.

Oh, cupcake. What are we going to do with you? So suddenly out in the frigid cold, along with fallen starlets of years past: truffle oil, sun-dried tomatoes, Snapple

I’ll confess to having had a little bit of fun at the expense of the cupcake. Perhaps I was a bit too harsh. It’s important to remember that cupcakes, despite their gaudy hubris, have problems just like the rest of us. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t actually hate cupcakes. I derive no particular pleasure in seeing them so publicly and unceremoniously dumped by legions of fickle trend chasers. Now I’m well aware that people who know me, and particularly those who follow me on Twitter, may have a hard time believing this. So in the interest of full disclosure, I present you with an interview of yours truly, pulled together from footage we shot back in October.

I hope this puts to rest any doubts about my sincerity. 













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42 comments… read them below or add one

Jean February 13, 2011 at 10:01 am

I’m late to the cupcake craze (just like with everything else). I’ve made them once or twice before and I have to say that I’m just now seeing the possibilities (I’ll never be called a pioneer, for sure). Still not in love but I do like some. When done right, they can be quite good! Love the cupcake montage in the end. I think you proved your point. Regards to the Baby Chili family. 🙂


Ben February 15, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Coconuts with ranch dressing was definitely a bold culinary move, Jean. I will venture to say that you are seeing possibilities the rest of us don’t see. 🙂


Kath February 13, 2011 at 11:14 am

You convinced me! You don’t hate cupcakes.

Personally, I’m a bit tired of them. And macarons. And Whoopie Pies.

I want a perfect chocolate chip cookie! 🙂


Ben February 15, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I think I’ve learned my lesson. I will not speak ill of those flavorless macarons or whoopie pies.


sweetbittertart February 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm

That was awesome. And completely sincere I can tell. I’m so glad you tackled your cupcake issues head on. Not that you have cupcake issues. But if you did have cupcake issues, they would probably be all cleared up now. Just saying.


Ben February 15, 2011 at 7:50 pm

It’s always better to confront them directly, isn’t it?


elizabeth February 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm

The twee-ness of cupcakes (and for that matter, macarons and whoopie pies) is what drove me crazy when it came to their popularity, and then thanks to chains like Crumbs, they grew to gargantuan size and got increasingly less fun to eat, because you’d end up dividing them into quarters to not feel like a total glutton (which basically makes them like regular cake).

If you ask me, the enormous cupcake silicone molds that were advertised via infomercial-like ads signaled the death knell for the cupcake. And if you asked me under duress, I’d readily admit that the box-mix cupcake still holds a special place in my heart.

Team Cheesecake FTW.


Ben February 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm

For chrissake, just make a damn cake!


veggietestkitchen February 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm

yay! I’m glad you’re back to posting. I hope this video gets you back into the hang of it, we (I) miss your posts. But, on the subject of cupcakes, did you read this past year that the Crumbs cupcake chain was bought for 66million?! wtf, dude. next, it’s all macarons. Open a macaron shop. The PE guys are way behind the trend. They’ll buy you in two years.


Ben February 15, 2011 at 7:51 pm

I’ve always wanted to run a garlic and onion store. Do you think that will ever be trendy?


Amy K. February 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm

there is a mushroom store in the Ferry Terminal…I think a garlic and onion store would do just fine.


Stephanie @ okie dokie artichokie February 14, 2011 at 6:11 am

Brilliant! I’m doing a happy dance, sort of, in my chair, after seeing the video and the more-than-cute photos of your little one! :-p So glad to see you back, Ben!


Ben February 15, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Thank you! Glad to be back!


sippitysup February 14, 2011 at 9:08 am

What a great surprise to swing through here and find (an adorable) new post! The video is another stroke of ironic genius! So happy to see you back. GREG
PS I hate cupcakes (all top 9 of them day after day!), but I love your sense of humor!


Ben February 15, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Greg!


The Diva on a Diet February 14, 2011 at 9:39 am

Dude, I think I’ve been waiting for this since we met in October … and it was worth the wait! “How do you open this?” … omg, that killed me. That + “every day the editors chose the 9 absolute best cupcake recipes” = me loving you.

True story – I am, in fact, baking cupcakes today. But I’m not going to blog about them. Please don’t hate me.

Your pal,


The Diva on a Diet February 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Ok, I lied, I did write about cupcakes today – but only in the most curmudgeonly way, I promise. 😉


Ben February 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm

How could you betray me so?


Amy K. February 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

Good to hear your voice again! LOVE the post.

Nice touch…smelling the cupcake before diving in.

I am with you on the FBZ Cupcake Conspiracy…and the Whoopie Pie Craze, as well as the Pops Mania. 🙂


Ben February 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Just once, I would like to see 9 kalbi jjim’s in the T9.


irvin February 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm

There are moments of sheer brilliance in this video. Specifically the air quotes you used when you tried explain how you “definitely love” your wife’s cupcakes. And the fact that you obviously have science training, as you wafted the cupcake scent to your nose.

Love it. Also bonus points for using Sally Shapiro!


Ben February 15, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Aww, thanks! I’m sure AJ would appreciate my degree of caution with the sniffing.

And I will never tire of that song, the Piano mix in particular!


Mariko February 17, 2011 at 1:00 am

I’m giggling with happiness.
I’ll watch your piss on cupcakes, but I’m not giving up on them just yet. There’s still too many top 9s to look at. (Which, by the way, was your best line.)
I think you did prove one thing. It is impossible to eat a cupcake and not look awkward doing it.
Maybe, though, I’ve been making cupcakes because I can pretend it’s about portion control. It’s hard to say how many cupcakes equal a piece of cake.
I don’t even have a cupcake holder; I’m coveting yours.
AND, I totally forgot about Snapple. So thanks for that.


Ben February 17, 2011 at 10:01 am

Cupcakes are OVER. These days, it’s all about the muffcake.


Mariko February 18, 2011 at 12:24 am

If you can get some, that is.


Joy February 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm

That is pretty funny.


Ben February 19, 2011 at 12:15 pm

To all except the poor cupcake.


Jun Belen February 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm

HATER!!! Why is the world full of hate???



Ben February 17, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Please don’t tell Food Woolf. She’ll make me feel so ashamed. 🙂


Danielle February 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Congratulations on eating your first (?) cupcake for the interwebs, absolutely loved the pause at 00:52 and your nervous sniff, that totally gave you away!

Cupcakes will probably come back 5 years from now. In 2011, it’s all about the PIE!


Ben February 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Until I someday run for office, and a notorious “Cupcake tape” emerges, this is the first (and perhaps only) cupcake video.


Jackie February 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm

My God, I am so proud of you. I’m proud of the whole Baby Chili Team.

Guess what I’m bringing you as a thank you present tomorrow? That’s right: a big ol’ box of cupcakes. With so much frosting. I know you’ll love it.

Jax x


Ben February 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Can’t wait…


Lael Hazan @educatedpalate February 19, 2011 at 5:29 am

LOVE the look on your face as you ate the cupcake. It can be your new avatar!
When do you think Semifreddo will trend?


Ben February 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm

The Semifreddo should be careful what it asks for. I think that cupcakes have shown us the peril of flying so close the the sun.


Rachelino February 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm



Ben February 20, 2011 at 11:34 pm

All in the wrist.


angi February 22, 2011 at 9:40 am

All the things I wanted to say has already been said…EXCEPT how come no one mentioned Skipper’s cameo?!? I wonder what she would think of cupcakes….


Ben February 22, 2011 at 11:28 am

She’s a natural, that Skipper. Such a chameleon, no one even noticed it was she. As for her eating habits, she can’t be trusted around kimchi, bread, peanut butter, corn, styrofoam…We’re certainly not going to leave Erin’s cupcakes unattended.


Rachel March 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm

I love cupcakes, but I’m not entirely convinced that you do . . . even if you own more cupcake carry cases & muffin tins than anyone else I know. 🙂 But I did find your video highly entertaining. And I have to say your blog is a breath of fresh air in the world of food blogs. It’s well-written with just the right amount of sarcasm, and I love the story-telling incorporated in your posts. I can see why your blog got nominated for IACP Bert Greene award. What an honor. Congrats!

I look forward to reading more (even if you occasionally make fun of the cupcake).

P.S. My son LOVES kalamata olives and frozen peas, too. How about raw peppers or dried anchovies? My son munches on those things like they’re french fries. Something is not right about this, but I’m not complaining.


Savory Tv March 10, 2011 at 2:18 am

Ha silly video! Yeah bacon is the new cupcake. And eggs are the new bacon. Anyway I really just think they were popular because they showcase the most delicious part of the cake which is the frosting. I’ve never been much of a fan.

Thanks for the follow on Twitter and good luck with the blog nomination!



amelia from z tasty life October 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm

yeah for your iconic ironic sarcasm. Love it as much as i hate those little uber-processed over-featured useless pieces of cake called cupcakes


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