Friday, September 28, 2007

Cupcake Crackdown

To my mind, “the cupcake problem” as reported in the Times the other day, has less to do with hyping up or cracking down on the proliferation of cupcakistas eager to snag one of these showboats for frosting (even if it means 20 minute lines), and everything to do with the most basic of human instincts: if it looks, tastes, and smells good, I wanna eat it!

The sentence that set me off in Sarah Kershaw’s provocative article (that’s right, cupcakes have become not only trendy but controversial) was this:

…it has led some to wonder whether emotional value, on occasion, might legitimately outweigh nutritional value.

Really? Is anyone really wondering about this? Hasn’t the jury arrived at a verdict that’s been ringing from the bell tower for as long as there’s been a bell tower, and perhaps even predates that architectural monument? Since when are nutrition and joy opponents? Aside from an anorexic or a dietitian with a Nazi’s zeal for discipline, is there anyone out there who never-ever eats for emotional fulfillment…never-ever? And have we become so far removed from the joy of eating and preparing a meal, that there might exist a seemingly well-informed scholar who’d dare to argue against the value of happiness when considering human health? I choose to have more faith in humanity than to believe that! But as someone who likes to look and feel good, I also choose when to eat for my stomach and when to eat for my mouth. Cupcakes are pure mouth.

And who is this Eater blogger who thinks Duncan Hines cupcakes are better than a bakery-fresh handmade confection? Cupcakes, like most other desserts, often hold an emotional memory for their fans. They represent something special; they might offer the perfect little pick-me-up from a bad day at work, or they could remind someone of a birthday memory 15 years old, maybe even 50. A lot of people like extreme sweets either because they’re told not to eat them or they only get to eat them on special occasions. Maybe if 7 year olds were rewarded for getting good grades with celebratory spinach pies rather than cupcakes there wouldn’t be so much compulsion toward indulgence. But how much happiness would there be in our children’s faces? And how much would we all miss photographs of grinning lips topped with pink frosting mustaches? I take a much wizened, much more Italian view of things: la dolce vita.

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