[Sca-cooks] OOP - NYT article on emerging, exotic, slightly dangerous food trend...

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Mon Sep 24 05:24:22 PDT 2007

I could swear the video mentioned in the article involves another  
controlled substance in addition to cupcakes, as a significant plot  

> September 23, 2007
> Don’t Even Think of Touching That Cupcake
> THE cupcake is at something of a crossroads. Edible icon of  
> Americana, frosted symbol of comfort and innocence, it may not have  
> faced such an identity crisis since first appearing in cookbooks  
> sometime in the 18th century.
> As we know, cupcakes have had a whopping resurgence: they are retro- 
> food chic, the thing to eat for people in the know.
> But cupcakes have also recently been marched to the front lines of  
> the fat wars, banned from a growing number of classroom birthday  
> parties because of their sugar, fat and “empty calories,” a poster  
> food of the child obesity crisis. This was clear when children  
> returned to school this month to a tightening of regulations,  
> federal and state, on what can be served up between the bells.
> And it has led some to wonder whether emotional value, on occasion,  
> might legitimately outweigh nutritional value.
> Schools trying to bring parents to the table in efforts to root out  
> fat and sugar have faced what Marion Nestle, a professor of  
> nutrition at New York University who strongly supports limiting  
> sweets in schools, calls “the cupcake problem.”
> When included on lists of treats that parents are discouraged or  
> forbidden to send to school — and when those policies are, say, put  
> to a vote at the P.T.A. — “cupcakes are deal breakers,” Professor  
> Nestle said. “It sounds like a joke, but it’s a very serious  
> problem on a number of levels. You have to control it.”
> While the merits of banning goodie bags filled with Reese’s and  
> Skittles seem obvious — especially at a time when the risk of  
> childhood diabetes is high for American children — many parents  
> draw the line at cupcakes.
> This could have something to do with the fact that in the modern  
> age, the cupcake may be more American than apple pie — “because  
> nobody is baking apple pies,” Professor Nestle explained.
> The confection is so powerfully embedded in the national  
> consciousness — and palate — that its future is quite possibly the  
> only cause to unite Texas Republicans and at least some left-wing  
> foodies behind a singular mission: keep the cupcake safe from harm.
> “I think the wholesale banning of parents’ bringing cupcakes as a  
> legal issue is over the top,” said Rachel Kramer Bussel, a former  
> sex columnist for The Village Voice who founded the Web site  
> “Cupcakes Take the Cake” three years ago.
> The Texas Legislature agreed, in spirit, when it passed the “Safe  
> Cupcake Amendment,” in 2005, in response to new federal child  
> nutrition guidelines and lobbying from parents outraged by the  
> schoolroom siege on cupcakes.
> After the amendment passed, a blogger on Homesick Texan wrote: “i  
> don’t think it necessarily warrants all the hubbub, or the  
> intervention of legislature to intervene on behalf of the  
> cupcake. ... but then, another part of me is screaming  
> ‘CUPCAKES!!!’ because they just make people happy.”
> Hillary Clinton perhaps was aware of this when on David Letterman’s  
> show recently she listed as No. 9 of her Top 10 campaign promises,  
> “Each year on my birthday everyone gets a cupcake.”
> As Ms. Kramer Bussel, who organizes monthly cupcake meet-ups in New  
> York City, said, “If you bring cupcakes to a party, you are so  
> popular.”
> Until the late 1990s, the cupcake often shared the mental dessert  
> pantry with canned peaches and ambrosia; it was nostalgia food, mom- 
> in-an-apron food, happy food.
> But then cupcakes took a very chic turn. Trend-setting bakeries  
> like Magnolia, the Greenwich Village cupcake empire, arrived on the  
> scene; by 2005, a parody music video on “Saturday Night Live,”  
> which was later viewed more than five million times on YouTube,  
> included the lyrics, “Let’s hit up Magnolia and mack on some  
> cupcakes.”
> And now the new cupcake, having drifted so far from Betty Crocker,  
> is facing fierce competition from the retro cupcake, which is the  
> new, new cupcake that is really the old cupcake.
> Americans still find time to whip up some batter and slide a tray  
> in the oven. It’s easy, and the appeal is multifaceted. Cupcakes  
> are portable, cute and relatively inexpensive. They are also  
> “feminine and girlie,” Ms. Kramer Bussel said, so the majority of  
> cupcake bakers and fans are women.
> Cupcake is a term of endearment, but it can also be a rather mean- 
> spirited word. “Cupcake teams” in sports are said to be soft and  
> easily crushed. As food, though, cupcakes are democratic; everyone  
> gets one. And they are libertarian; individual and independent  
> compared with communal cakes, which may not have enough slices for  
> everyone.
> Across the Atlantic, where cupcakes have become increasingly  
> popular in the last few years, some bakers said they were perplexed  
> by word of an American cupcake crackdown.
> “Over here people think it’s a bit like this innocent cake,” said  
> Jemma Wilson, owner of Crumbs and Doilies, a new cupcake bakery in  
> London. “And it seems more dignified and civilized to eat one  
> portion, unless you kind of eat 10, which obviously happens a lot.”
> A sub-debate within the cupcake debate has revolved around whether  
> the meaning of cupcakes has been lost — and it’s not pretty.
> Can the cupcake loyalist support the sale of a chocolate Guinness  
> cupcake with green-tea cream-cheese frosting? Has the cupcake been  
> stolen from the people by the baking aristocracy?
> For a sense of how charged the subject is, consider what happened  
> in July, when Magnolia Bakery, having vaulted to fad status by an  
> appearance on “Sex and the City,” was briefly shut down by the city  
> health department for not having enough sinks at its Greenwich  
> Village establishment.
> “At last!” said a blogger posting on Eater.com. “We neighbors get  
> relief from cupcakistas who don’t realize Duncan Hines makes better- 
> tasting cupcakes.”
> After a long debate thread, another blogger wrote, “You people need  
> to go back to the suburbs ... Seriously, bunch of grown up New York  
> City residents obsessing over a cupcake shop. I miss the gunfire  
> and crackheads.”

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