It’s been a soap-opera week in cupcake news: On Monday, Crumbs bakery shuttered all of its stores and laid off around 800 staffers. And yesterday, reports broke that an investor group could revive the company, which bolstered Crumbs stock up by an eye-watering 1600%.
Much of the press coverage has contextualized Crumbs’ closure as proof that the high-end cupcake wave has crashed. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone because the media already told us that cupcakes were over last April when Crumbs’ stocks hit an all-time low. The pundits called the Great Fall of the Cupcake Kingdom, and now the prediction has come to pass. Someone should break the news to Magnolia Bakery.
The crumbnut, Crumb’s version of the Cronut (photo: Crumb’s Bake Shop)
Except that Crumbs is but one business in a rather large industry—an industry that appears to be ticking along fine. The demand for cupcakes hasn’t disappeared, but the hype surrounding them has as Yelpers and bloggers moved on to other confections in the constant search for The Next Cronut. It’s important to remember that the rise and fall of a food fad happens largely in the Internet ether; gimmicky fame-chasers aside, quality products continue to be popular even after the media has hyped them, hated on them, and moved on to other sugar-coated click bait.
Business owners know how this game works, but that doesn’t make it any less bemusing or frustrating for them. Allison Robicelli, author and co-owner of Robicelli’s bakery, has been particularly incisive on this issue (her response to Grub Street’s “Reasons Why the Cupcake Boom Went Bust” piece last year is as funny as it is facetious, and is best enjoyed with a cupcake in hand).
Chicken and waffle cupcake from Robicelli’s (photo: Facebook.com/Robicellis)
And when we reach out to Allison Robicelli for comment on the Crumbs news, she responded with a perfect satire on the current state of food media. Here it is—unabridged, profane, and glorious:
“I just think it’s so morbid, and tasteless, to be watching the press actively root for an industry to fail. An industry that, may I add, is still really popular.
For the past 4 years, I’ve made cupcakes, but also brownies, loaf cakes, whoopie pies, ice cream sandwiches and hot cocoa. How often has the press written about any of those things? Once we opened the brick-and-mortar shop, we added a huge selection of cookies, pies, bars, breakfast cakes and more. They’re absolutely amazing. Who’s writing about these things? How many pageviews are pie or cookies or fucking scones going to get you?
I just think it’s so morbid, and tasteless, to be watching the press actively root for an industry to fail.
I mean, our name has always been ‘Robicelli’s,’ yet people continue to call us ‘Robicelli’s Cupcakes.’ We have never been called that. We made sure our sign on the shop says ‘Robicelli’s BAKERY,’ and still, they call us Robicelli’s Cupcakes.
I have no issue with cupcakes. I’ve outlined countless times in the media on why they’re great, why people love them, and why people continue to buy them over all the other stuff we make. They are excellent on many many levels.
What I have an issue with is bad journalism. And there’s a ton of it that goes around in the anti-cupcake circuit. Factual errors, lack of research…seriously, one more person mentions Sex and the City, they’re getting punched in the dick. My dad forwarded me an article from Bloomberg about the Crumbs closing that had all these quotes from “experts” who obviously had NEVER worked a day in this industry.
What I have an issue with is bad journalism. And there’s a ton of it that goes around in the anti-cupcake circuit.
Most of these cupcake joints make other things besides cupcakes. It was one single item on the Magnolia menu 20 years ago. We sell tons of things. We sell a lot of coffee. Cupcakes have been a ‘fad’ for over 20 years. That’s a genre—individually portioned dessert. Just accept it. If cupcakes are finally dead, you’ll have nothing to call the ‘next cupcake.’
We’re tired of being perpetually asked when we’re coming up with ‘the next cronut’ or ‘the new cupcake.’ It’s ridiculous, and it’s a question everyone in pastry is being asked. In the past 6 years, we’ve gone from the next cupcake being donuts, to pie, to macarons, to macaroons, to ice cream sandwiches, back to donuts, to cronuts, to biscuits.
We’re not being asked to make good food—we’re being asked to churn out gimmicks. Which makes the rash of cupcake hatred all the more ironic.”
Bravo, Robicelli’s. We would start a slow clap if our hands weren’t occupied with tweeting this right now.