RIP Cupcakes?

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Bad news for fans of single-serving desserts: Slate ran an article this week predicting the burst of what it calls the "Cupcake Bubble." The piece offers a host of reasons for why the cupcake trend its on its last legs:

    • There are too many stores selling them, and the market is oversaturated;

    • Cupcakes are a relatively inexpensive recession food, and when the economy improves, interest in the desserts will decline;

    • Actually, cupcakes are actually pretty expensive, and consumers will soon wise up and use their $3 on a latte instead of a sugary treat;

    • The industry isn't scalable--if the homey bakeries that currently sell cupcakes cut costs by making their goods at a central location instead of onsite, they'll pay the price in staleness.

But the Slate article misses the most damning piece of evidence that cupcakes are on the way out: the House of Representatives' Capitol Hill cafeteria just added a cupcake bar to its offerings. The Hill saw the news as a death knell for the cupcake business:

The only downside of the new bar may lie in what the cafeteria-izing of cupcakes means for the fancy cupcake industry itself: after all, there was a time when ice cream toppings were an expensive novelty, too.

Still, cupcakes aren't dead yet. Enjoy them while they're still around with the help of Atlantic Food curator Corby Kummer's survey of noteworthy cupcake shops. In it, he offers a compelling reason to keep the trend alive as long as possible: they're a not-so-guilty pleasure:

a Hostess cupcake has 180 calories. A blueberry muffin at a typical Starbucks has 360--the same amount as a lavishly iced Starbucks chocolate cupcake. The un-iced chocolate cream-cheese muffin has 440. Might as well have a breakfast you'll enjoy!
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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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