Tuesday, April 3, 2012

{cupcake wars}

Innovation in the cupcake wars has historically been limited to the advent of new and unique flavors: Double Chocolate and Vanilla begot Red Velvet and Banana which evolved into Dulce de Leche and Chai Latte and in turn have most recently developed into mega flavors such as French Toast & Maple Bacon or Guinness & Bailey's. Originally only found in New York City or L.A., bakeries specializing solely in cupcakes are now commonly discovered in such cities as Nashville, Baltimore, Portland and even our own Oakland, California.  

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Flashback to 2004 and the birth of the Food Truck Craze. Naturally the mobile cupcake bakery was the next major innovation in the cupcake wars and the logical progression in all things cupcake. Mobile cupcakeries such as Cupkates (Berkeley, CA) or Sweet (Cleveland, OH) and the original, (set in a vintage Airstream trailer that actually remains parked), Hey Cupcake! (Austin, TX) have taken over the country and almost succeeded in providing uninterrupted cupcake availability for the masses.


Today, the greatest innovation must be awarded to that trendy, much-hyped, PR machine of Beverly Hills...Sprinkles cupcakes. If you haven't heard of Sprinkles yet, really...how do you spend your time? Sprinkles burst onto the scene in 2005 proclaiming themselves the ORIGINAL Cupcake Bakery. Such self-inflated ballyhoo was an indignity to each established cupcake bakery already thriving in New York City. Sure these bakeries sold the occasional ice-box cake or black & white cookie but let's face it...The Cupcake Cafe opened in Hell's Kitchen in 1988. And who can forget Carrie and Miranda scarfing cupcakes outside of Magnolia's in a 'Sex and the City' episode broadcast in July of 2000?


All of that aside, Sprinkles did offer up a chic and modern cupcake aesthetic and an alternative to the ubiquitous piped-on frosted cupcake sold in the local corner bake shop. The latest and most ground breaking innovation though, is not Sprinkle's signature single dot placed on top of each mini cake but the newly installed Cupcake ATM. Recalling the olden days of the Automat, for only $3.50, the Sprinkles ATM will bestow a fresh and scrumptious cupcake perfectly boxed and presented to sugar hungry consumers via the machine's efficient robotic arm. Well stocked at 600 cupcakes daily, buyers run a low risk of disappointment at the ATM due to a sold-out favorite flavor. Plus it's more fun than standing in a block long line at an old fashioned brick and mortar store.

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