Being Modern: Cupcakes
Sunday 17 April 2011
Although the phrase "jump the shark" has itself now rather jumped the shark, there is still no adequate alternative to describe that moment when something we think we will never tire of turns into something run-of-the-mill – the tipping-back point, if you like.
For cupcakes, the journey has taken about a decade. At the turn of the millennium there were Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw and Miranda Hobbes discussing the former's new crush Aiden while digesting mouthfuls of iced-sponge loveliness, complete with establishing shot of New York's Magnolia Bakery.
Before we knew it, cupcakes were the new black, or the new Blahniks, or something. "Owning a cupcake bakery is the career fantasy of our times," declared no less an expert than Vogue magazine. And now, if industry experts are to be believed, having a cupcake bakery in your area will make house prices rocket.
No wonder they're popping up in their hundreds and thousands (or should that be sprinkles?). Because what is there not to love about what we used to happily call fairy cakes? "May I have a fairy cake, please?" we might ask at those parties where there'd be "going-home presents". Now it's all "Can I get a cupcake" issued as a statement. No please, no questions asked and, crucially, no sign of fairies.
The magic has gone. The current "cupcake craze" has been all about "micro-pleasures" in uncertain times. It has been all about giving fashionable small gifts. It has been all about buying something you can easily make at home from those establishments that tell the world you read the right magazines: Lola's, Hummingbird, or Cox's (who wouldn't want to buy cakes from a bakery owned by a shoe designer?).
But "Being Modern" is here to tell you that the bubble has burst. Because next month, the Women's Institute – that noble organisation that did for sexy calendars what shade does to sunflowers – publishes Celebration Cupcakes and the tipping-back point is complete. Never mind. Who wants cakes to be subject to the whims of fashion anyway? Pass the Ladurée macaroon.
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