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Watch that cupcake bubble ...

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because it's about to burst, says Slate columnist Daniel Gross. In a piece last week in Slate, he compares the cupcake craze to recent rages such as real estate and dot.coms, and like those two wildly popular phenomena, the cupcake bubble, he believes, is bound to burst.

He says that the current economic recession, which got going in 2007, "laid the groundwork for the recent proliferation of cupcake stores in American cities."

Setting up a cupcakery doesn't require a large investment of capital, he explains, since costs of ingredients and labor are low for cupcake-making and, as he points out, " It takes about as much labor to produce three dozen cupcakes as it does to make one dozen."

While economic and culinary indicators would liken the prolonged popularity of cupcakes a slam dunk, Gross is not convinced this is a something that'll be around longterm. "Cupcakes are now showing every sign of going through the bubble cycle," he says.

His points include: The first wave of cupcake shops have ben joined by second and third waves, which can only differentiate themselves on how different they are from those first waves; the theory that in a depressed economy people buy affordable luxuries such as cupcakes doesn't fly with Gross, since he thinks it goes the other way -- that in times like these, people are more likely to go for the $1 donut than the $4 cupcake; cupcakes aren't that cheap for the consumer and the sugar or cuteness buzz you get last only as long as you're eating it; cupcakes are a reactionary food, something simple and understandable, compared to the complex foods many foodies rave about, but some cupcake makers are not satisfied with simple, and are going too far, essentially putting sugar atop sugar, rendering the treats too sweet.

"Cupcakes are having their moment, no question, and many could make sweet profits," Gross says. "But remember what always happens after a sugar rush: a crash."

2 Comments

great post, made me think. PS3 rules.

great post, made me think

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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This page contains a single entry by James Scalzitti published on September 7, 2009 8:15 PM.

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