When the announcement came earlier this week that the upscale cupcake shop Crumbs was closing all of its stores, the news was taken as a proxy for the fate of the cupcake as an idea. “As the Cupcake Declines, Crumbs Shuts Its Doors,” read the headline of a New York Times article on Tuesday that, due to what must have been an editorial oversight, was not included in the obituaries section. Jezebel was more to the point: “Ding, Dong, Cupcakes Are Dead.”
But, miraculously, food-trend equilibrium was maintained this week, as another craze crested: a Wall Street Journal article took note of quinoa’s placement in Walgreens and Piggly Wiggly stores, signaling its mainstream acceptance. The article plotted quinoa’s rise in conjunction with that of worshiping "superfoods" and anything gluten-free, which has made for what one analyst called “a perfect collision of trends”—“perfect,” in this case, likely referring to the doubling of quinoa’s price between 2007 and this year. (And this has an effect elsewhere: These increases can price out those who live in countries where quinoa is a staple.)
As a human who eats regularly, what am I to make of these trends? David Sax, author of the recent book The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy For Cupcakes But Fed Up With Fondue, says that quinoa may well go the way of the cupcake if prices rise beyond what consumers deem reasonable. “Even if they do, it doesn’t mean that quinoa will disappear from the face of the earth, but it certainly may not have the presence and energy that it once did,” he says.