Story by Alexandra Smith
Cupcakes are selling like hot cakes in bakeries and stores that sell only the small individual treat. The trend that started in New York City and Los Angeles has finally spread all the way to Baton Rouge.
Sure, cupcakes have been around for decades, but the way they are served has changed. Over the years, fewer and fewer people have continued to bake their own cupcakes, and with cupcake shops becoming increasingly popular, why should they?
“There is something really special about receiving a fancy and creatively decorative cupcake that not just anyone can make,” said LSU student Christina West. “I think they make for the perfect gift.”
The cupcake popularity
The cupcake’s modern popularity surge began in 2000, crediting an episode of Sex and the City where the lead characters ate cupcakes from New York’s Magnolia Bakery. Although Magnolia is one of the most well known bakeries devoted to cupcakes, it is no longer the only one. In the last decade, bakeries devoted entirely to cupcakes have sprung up on the East and West coasts and every major city in between.
Although cupcake shops have been popular for more than a decade, it took Baton Rouge almost eight years before it caught on. Sweet Wishes Gourmet Cupcake Shoppe opened in November 2007 and was Baton Rouge’s only exclusive cupcake bakery.
“It took a while for our business to catch on, especially with all of the road work around our business,” said Sweet Wishes co-owner Rhonda Weeks. “But soon we realized people will go through any kind of traffic for a cupcake!”
Three years later and Baton Rouge became home to another gourmet cupcake shop. Cupcake Couture opened its doors on the craziest, busiest shopping day of the year, November 26, 2010, or Black Friday.
“We get busier and busier every week,” said Cupcake Couture owner Lauren Whittle, whose shop is located on the Boulevard at the Mall of Louisiana. “We knew that the cupcake thing was huge everywhere, so we wanted to bring that to Baton Rouge.”
Lindsey Whittle, Lauren’s business partner, said they wanted to do something that looked different from Sweet Wishes’ cupcakes, which are topped with a cute decorative candy. The title of their shop is the perfect way to describe their cupcakes.
“Our cupcakes have this high-end, gourmet, West Coast feel to them,” said Lindsey. “The more attractive the cupcakes are, the harder it is to resist them.”
Lindsey believes the cupcake trend is due to the idea of taking something really simple and “putting in it all kinds of flavors and colors.”
“What’s not to love?” Lindsey asked. “Cupcakes are cute, fun, portable, inexpensive, and can be found in almost any flavor you can imagine.”
West, who visited Cupcake Couture recently and was excited with all of the flavors that were offered to her, agrees.
“I wanted to try every single cupcake!” she said. “One thing I love about it is that I can buy a single cupcake instead of having to buy or make a whole dozen, it is so practical.”
Both Weeks and Lindsey know customers can have a hard time when it comes to deciding which flavor to buy.
“We offer different flavors everyday,” said Lindsey. “It allows customers a chance to try something they normally would not.”
Sweet Wishes also follows the same belief, rotating eight flavors out of a possible 45.
This new age of the cupcake is not just about the standard chocolate or white cupcakes. Cupcake Couture features several unique flavors:
- Bananas Foster
- Christmas-themed chocolate-peppermint
- Wedding Cake
- Banana Peanut Butter
- Lemon Coconut
- Vanilla Caramel
- King Cake
According to Lindsey, they chose to make a bananas foster ingredient so that they could offer that “Southern feel.”
“Besides the traditonal flavors like red velvet, bananas foster is extremely popular,” said Lindsey.
Sweet Wishes also offers its customers a variety of unique flavors to choose from.
- Almond Poppy Seed
- Banana Split
- Key Lime
- Kickin’ Carrot
- Piña Colada
Not only do cupcakes vary in flavors, but also in size. Cupcakes are famous for being small and meant for only one person. But today, more shops, like Cupcake Couture, are offering “mini cupcakes.”
“These are perfect for children or if you are just craving a little sweet something,” said Lindsey.
Cupcakes are not just for humans
The popularity of cupcakes has forced storeowners to get creative. Both Sweet Wishes and Cupcake Couture offer “Pupcakes” for their customers’ furry pets.
According to their website, Sweet Wishes makes these Pupcakes by combining whole-wheat flour, eggs, oats and honey and topping it with frosting.
“If I had a dog I would definitely give in and buy a couple of Pupcakes for him,” said West. “Why should I be the only one who gets to enjoy these wonderful cupcakes?”
So far, Lindsey believes their business is a success in Baton Rouge, selling 2,500 to 3,000 cupcakes a week.
“I hope this cupcake trend stays around for awhile,” West said. “Not only because I like to give them as gifts, but also to fulfill my own cupcake addiction!”