Every evening in the summer, the cupcake eaters descend on the West Village and make a beeline for the corner of Bleecker and West 11th, the home of Magnolia Bakery. This institution is credited with originating the cupcake trend, and has been celebrated in every major publication except The Village Voice. Its association with Sex and the City draws further patrons, intent on enjoying a tiny piece of stale cake surmounted by clouds of indifferent, pastel-colored frosting.
Which would be neither here nor there, except that these same hordes, once finished with their sugary indulgence, throw the packaging material directly on the ground, or toss it on top of already overflowing trash cans, for blocks in every direction, besmirching the neighborhood with boxes, tissues, coffee cups, and other material bearing the distinctive Magnolia Bakery logo.
Magnolia Bakery is clearly a cash cow, having devised a brilliant business strategy for using a small storefront (it was previously a pet shop specializing in parrots), jamming it with employees who bake small portions of cake in mere minutes in convection ovens that dominate the space, and then frost them with an icing made from something called “butter solids”–I’ve seen the boxes. Patrons are so eager to get these cupcakes that they line up down the block and sometimes wait 15 or 20 minutes for a taste. Magnolia cupcakes are the culinary equivalent of meth, and eaters quickly become addicted.
Which is all fine, but what I wonder is why can’t Magnolia Bakery be made responsible for policing the cupcake eating hordes, and cleaning up the mess they leave? It would be a good business strategy, if they appropriated the pittance it would take to have someone with a broom and garbage bag go around and clean up afterwards. I guess they’re just greedy, or maybe they just don’t give a fuck.
Check out Sarah DiGregorio’s anti-cupcake rant here.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 12, 2009