For the past several years, the hottest product in the baking business has been the cupcake. Every time you turn around you hear about a new cupcake shop opening. While opinion is mixed on whether the trend is still going strong or is on the decline, one thing is certain: cupcakes have long been a bakery staple and they will continue to be one. How many you sell may fluctuate, however.
I recently stumbled on something that may be taking the mystique of the cupcake too far. It is either a fantastic marketing tool or it is trying to pull a fast one on consumers. I found a bakery’s website that touted its giant cupcakes. Giant cupcakes aren’t anything especially new, since many bakeries offer jumbo-size cupcakes that stretch the concept of a cup of cake to its limit. But, when I read a little further, I saw that the cupcake in question was a 7-in. “cupcake” that serves four to six people.
By now my eyebrows were raised. Last time I checked, 7 ins. was considered a full-on cake, and not even a cake for two, which I was willing to believe could be stretched to be marketed as a giant cupcake. My initial reaction was that this giant cupcake, even though it was decorated to look like a traditional chocolate Hostess cupcake, was taking the cupcake trend about three steps too far. After a few more clicks I also found other giant “cupcakes” decorated for holidays, so while I might have given the cake decorated like a cupcake a pass, the others, which simply looked like decorated cakes, made me examine the issue further.
I had always assumed that the appeal of a cupcake is that it is a handheld and portable treat, and these giant cupcakes clearly require a knife and fork. It was hard to tell from the photos on the website whether the depth of the “cake” corresponded to its circumference to at least keep the characteristic dimensions of a cupcake intact, but by then I was ready to throw in the towel on this whole giant cupcake business.
Then, I thought about it some more. The prices quoted on the website were slightly higher than one might expect for a 7-in. decorated cake, and the customer reviews seemed positive. So, if the bakery was taking its customers for a ride, they were OK with it, which made it a terrific marketing gimmick. It seems some consumers are willing to pay any price for anything labeled a cupcake.
Although I stand by my initial reaction that any cake with a 7-in. circumference is a full-size cake and cannot be considered a cup of anything, I have to doff my cap to any bakery that takes a trend and runs full tilt with it–as long as customers are willing to buy.