The death of the cupcake is a victory for womankind.
The Wall Street Journal investigated gourmet-cupcake burnout today. Crumbs Bake Shop Inc., which once traded at more than $13 a share in mid-2011 (yes, on the real stock market, not in My Little Pony-ville), has sunk to a mere $1.70 — about a fourth of the price of a Crumbs cupcake, believe it or not — and expects sales to drastically slump throughout the year. Even more humble cupcake sellers said customers are "getting tired" of cupcakes, despite stores with names like "Happy Cakes" and "Sweet Thing" continuing to infiltrate our society like diabetes.
There's a Pinterest-worthy bakery in North Berkeley, California, that sells "mini" versions of its matcha green tea and lemon pistachio cupcakes. The store's cupcakes are already significantly "mini" so their diminutive replicas are offensively miniature; a dollhouse couple couldn't gorge themselves on one quarter-sized dessert. When I was in college, I'd often get a mini cupcake after class as a treat, which I'd finish in one gulping bite; in under a second I'd be left with nothing but a cloying, frosted aftertaste. I'd feel both guilty and unfulfilled as I scrunched up the adorable mini-wrapper with my chipped, unworthy fingernails. Weren't cupcakes supposed to make me happy?
The cupcake represents everything I am not but often wish I could be: domestic, meticulous, modest, sweet. Cupcakes represent measured indulgence. They represent capitalism. (More than $13 a share!) They represent prescribed modes of femininity and our cultural fixation on eternal girlhood. (Also, as Dodai pointed out last year, "a cupcake is a symbol for both a vagina and the female orgasm.") Therefore, I think I can confidently say that the death of the cupcake is a victory for feminism.
Why did it take this long for the cupcake to fall from its mighty pink throne? The financial crisis hit in 2008; the Sex and the City finale aired in 2004. Yet, the cupcake has remained the lone frilly indulgence we couldn't ditch out of recessionary guilt. And who even likes cupcakes anymore? Girls who tweet "Been craving cup cakes for two days. TWO. DAYS! Must resist!" and Instagram their glittery cupcake nail art. (Cupcakes fit very well on nail beds. This can't be a coincidence.) Also unsurprising: that some idiot made "Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake" into a thing. Cupcakes are tender parcels of meaningless drivel. Cupcakes are a distraction!
I asked Buzzfeed Food's Rachel Sanders how she felt the cupcake had impacted U.S. culture. "This is getting a little deep, but I believe they tap into our American cultural tendency toward selfishness and emotional isolation," she typed to me via Gchat. "Like, what other culture needs a kind of cake that is literally impossible to share; if you even try it just disintegrates into crumbs and sadness? You are going to be alone forever, so go ahead and carbo-load."
Let our collective fascination with cupcakes disintegrate into so many tiny sprinkles from this time forth.
Image via Ivonne Wierink/Shutterstock.