The Height of Boom-Bust Absurdity

Monday, January 10, 2011
Posted in category Boom-Bubble Phenomenon

Cupcakes have been a favorite target on this blog for a few years. Why? Because cupcakes “filled with white butter cream, topped with half vanilla cream cheese frosting mixed with chocolate chip cookie crumbs and half chocolate fudge mixed with brownie pieces and covered with chocolate chip cookie and brownie pieces” are one of the many absurd fixations produced by the boom years that continues to titillate perpetually adolescent adults of all ages who are still experiencing their own sense of made-up prosperity even as America’s boom has become a flat-out bust. From the New York Times:

The company’s flagship product is its $3.75 cupcake — an oversize confection in flavors like apple cobbler, cookie dough and dulce de leche. There is also the “half baked,” a 590-calorie cupcake that Crumbs describes on its website as “marble cake filled with white butter cream, topped with half vanilla cream cheese frosting mixed with chocolate chip cookie crumbs and half chocolate fudge mixed with brownie pieces and covered with chocolate chip cookie and brownie pieces.”

Dumbed-down, adult America is still infatuated with cupcakes. Crumbs Bake Shop is going public. Stimulus policies, along with the Federal Reserve’s fight to keep credit cheap and money plentiful, keeps skewing the market and distorting time preferences, making even the ridiculous seem profitable and real. Americans have developed a strange obsession with enormous, sugar-laden, pricey mounds of sweets all dressed up in toppings and flavors suitable for the most discriminating 5-year-olds. Magnolia Bakery in New York is said to have a “permanent place in the cupcake canon in part because of a cameo on Sex and the City.”

I can’t wait to short this stock. Thanks to my cupcake correspondent, Skip Oliva, for the tip.

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19 Responses to The Height of Boom-Bust Absurdity

  1. jeannie queenie says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Notwithstanding all the wrong fats and high sugar content of these, it is hard to believe that anyone would pay $3.75 for one cupcake….only in America, the land of the clueless. I recall when working downtown Boston about fifteen years ago, there was a Mrs Fields cookie shop at Downtown Crossing..those cookies were about $1.50 – 2.00…for only ONE freaking cookie! For years, having made peanut butter or oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies for my five kids at a cost of $1.50 for 3 dozen, there was no way any Mrs Fields would get my $1.50,
    nope not for 1 stinking cookie not half as good as mine.

    But times, they are a-changing folks. Went to the market recently to buy a beef bone to make soup. I recall how my mother, when I lived in Detroit as a kid, would get a bone with meat actually still attached and she got it for FREE. Now I love to make soups, all kinds when the weather gets cold, so imagine my surprise when I hit the meat dept and picked up a beef bone sans a whit of beef attached..and the darn thing has a four dollar price tag…I kid you not…and the butchers are really getting tight…they scrape off every little tidbit of meat that is on there…it’s all bone only. So judging between a cupcake at 3.75 versus a bone for four bucks, at least I would have gotten that terrific marrow from the bone, something so very good for us.

  2. liberranter says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 12:47 am

    Wasn’t there a TV commercial that aired for a while last year (I can’t remember the product, it was that inconsequential) featuring some adultolescent bitchtard who owned a bar that dealt in “cupcakes and wine?” The minute I saw that commercial I knew that our civilization had come to a fork in the road and had taken the one that led straight to hell. The commercial hasn’t been aired for a while (a rare burst of common sense and/or consumer revulsion must have resulted in its dispatch down the memory hole), but the fact that the concept was even given artistic voice by someone who thought it would actually sell something proved to me that we’ve passed the point of no return.

    So what’s next, a giant cupcake topped not only with a pound of cream cheese frosting, but also your favorite breakfast cereal, and sold with an adult-sized birthday party (dunce) hat?

  3. CMN says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 1:34 am

    So what sort of toppings do you think are to be preferred by adults? The nouveau cupcake is pricey, I suppose, but I’ve been in other countries that suffer none of the perpetual adolescence of the modern American adult and yet the people had an obsession with sweets. The saturation of marzipan and pastry shops in Budapest comes to mind.

  4. Karen De Coster says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 6:48 am

    Cory: regular sweets – which are bad enough – don’t look like Circusmobiles. Now everything is made to look like a child’s plaything. Do people really not notice this? Or are folks’ brains denying what their eyes see? But … things do change in order to keep up with the societal devolution.

  5. Karen De Coster says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 6:48 am

    Liberranter gets it. Hey, can you find that commercial on YouTube?

  6. Robin says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Liberranter writes: “So what’s next, a giant cupcake topped not only with a pound of cream cheese frosting, but also your favorite breakfast cereal, and sold with an adult-sized birthday party (dunce) hat?”
    Probably something more drastic is in order. How about a tube shaped “earthworm” leisure suit? It will have only one aperture, for a blind, cupcake devouring mouth.

  7. liberranter says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Hey, can you find that commercial on YouTube?

    I’ll see if I can find it. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I can’t remember what product it was advertising for (I think it might have been for some sort of financial service or credit card [i.e., another "bubble" industry]).

    Can anyone else out there help?

  8. liberranter says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I couldn’t find the YouTube video of the commercial I referenced, but it was apparently an advertisement for Chase (go figure) Ink[TM] Small Business credit card. Here is the website of the previously mentioned adultolescent bitchtard whose “cupcake, beer, and wine bar” was featured on the commercial. Visit and vomit, if you dare; it lends a whole new meaning to the term “juvenile narcissism.”

    Incidentally, everyone should Google the phrase “cupcakes and wine.” Apparently it’s a much more popular fad than common sense would let us believe. We really, truly are f***ed!

  9. Tom Osborne says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    All those cupcakes can’t interest me and besides, they give me a sugar-high headache just thinking about them, but my mouth starts watering over thinking about whatever you will make with that bone, Jeannie Queenie!

  10. 515050 says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    I’m from the Philippines and I see something like that in the malls here. Designer popcorn, crocs, a breakfast cereal shop (just about now; we’re usually late by plus minus 2 years following the trend in the USA); I recently saw a yogurt shop (“designer” of course), as well as stuff that are all sprinkles, sparkles, and flashing tin (from China, completely worthless but distracting). A few years ago at the Ayala Mall they put up a SPAM Restaurant but it went extinct too. I also remember the crayon shoe craze in the 80s’. That was briefer because everyone new it was the “in” thing but after a while they realized how the shoe really looked bad. They all went “bangaw” (shitfly) and down into the dark hole of oblivion.

  11. Iluvatar says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    I want to offer congratulations to all those people out there who decide to be non-bovine idiots and have a sense of their internal navigator & moral compass – it took me a while but I finally got it when Sony up’d the ante and required $600 for a PS-3 which people actually DIED for (sort of like the Who Concert back in `78).

    And while I still “sin” and watch TV for NFL football (hey! The “rat birds”, er… the Ravens just took the Chiefs last week!! Weak start, but nice finish – on to the Steelers on Sat!@), that still doesn’t promote me into an idiocracy.

    Food for the game? Check this out: “Dad’s mongo omelets”: consisting of: EVERY color of bell pepper, onions (sauteed), mushrooms (also suateed in bacon fat), 2 lbs of bacon, 5 cheese Lucerne cheese, 12 eggs, ground up beef & ham.

    Dude!

    We were so full we couldn’t move for 2 hours after!

    Oh guess what?

    No carbs from cereals and grains – was so full we could not even make toast (w/ Kerry Gold butter – darn it!!!).

    And, oh yeah?

    We don’t speak “cupcakes” here.

    It ain’t somethin’ we put in our mouths…

    Tant pis…

    &
    Bon nuit…

    But then, I am an alien in my own space & time (I need to turn that into an acronym to save typing time!)

  12. Keith Snyder says:

    January 11th, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Magnolia is another example of collateral damage from “Sex and The City” which even years after its last episode continues to plague not only New York City but society as a whole.
    The cupcake thing has gone over the edge. The reason that it caught on at all was simply the icing. The kind of stuff your grandmother would make. It got a little crusty. It was all sugar. In the current world of endless butter cream, cream cheese icing, and everything else the old stuff we called “frosting” was a novelty. Magnolia proved this by the fact that the actual “cake” part of their cupcakes sucks. It’s kinda dry and pretty boring. But there is a mountain of icing, frosting, or whatever. People actually STAND IN LINE to buy them. Of course this is New York where people will line up for anything sometimes without even knowing why they are in line in the first place. At least in Manhattan they will. Brooklyn is a much different story. But that’s a whole other story.
    Perhaps some folks out there will remember a chain from the 80′s that drove a certain cookie craze. They made GIANT chocolate chip cookies and sold them like cakes with script, frosting and stuff like that. There was always one in the mall. So now it’s cupcakes. Whatever. But public? A bakeshop? Sounds silly.

  13. Jeannie Queenie says:

    January 12th, 2011 at 1:01 am

    @tOM, I didn’t end up buying any bone…four bucks plus for a bone with no meat on it doesn’t make sense in my book. Ended up making a minestrone without meat…beans provided the protein that day! At any rate, when the snow flies as it is starting here tonight, I find it a great time to be making soups.

  14. Jeannie Queenie says:

    January 12th, 2011 at 1:30 am

    @liberranter..is this url here the video of Chase bank?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb3dnT4TUKk

    This is the wine/cupcake dpsht disaster you referenced I believe…talk about having no imagination, and even less intelligence. We can thank the NEA for all this dumbing down of last four generations..truly nutso! Is it just me or have others noticed that ads just seem to be getting increasingly stupid….it must be a primary requisite now for those employed in the ad industry, to smoke three bowls before creating an ad…most of the ads today make no sense whatsover and truly boggle the mind, but mostly, the ads bring you the realization that ad people have lost theirs..minds that is. This goes along with the wierd as hell and, oh not so pretty stupid fashions of the last 15 years or so…you know the ones where they wear jeans with sequined tops or pants half showing their majorly big butts as they trend downward around the midsection, thus revealing flab already at age 18 that twenty years hence, the metamorphosis from big ass will become an even bigger ass. The only
    good to come from that is that some gal provides some guy with shade in the summer and warmth in the winter. Don’t be licking that frosting big mama…yo butt is big enough, ya hear?

  15. liberranter says:

    January 12th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Jeannie:

    Yes, thank you. That’s the ad I was talking about. Toxic in its insipidity, no?

  16. Deb S. says:

    January 12th, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I can’t grasp cupcakes and wine. (That gals voice makes me want to jump out a window. omgannoying) I’ve been known to indulge in a bit of chocolate with my wine, but I like sweet wine and the darkest chocolate I can find. You would have leftover fingers on one hand counting the number of times I indulge myself in a year. lol

    Jeannie, I love making soup too :) and I have the same concern with over-priced naked bones here. It’s sad. I try to take advantage of less costly roasts that haven’t been de-boned when I can. And, dry beans are always a good thing in my book.

  17. clark says:

    January 13th, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    “experiencing their own sense of made-up prosperity”

    Came across this, from the recent past, and thought of your blog post, selling cupcakes was probably seen by many as a way out:

    “…the Lending Tree commercial when Stanley Johnson showed us his family and his big house and his country club and his new car and at the end he was riding that big lawn mower on that tiny lawn saying, “Somebody help me.””

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn5EP9StlVA – 123k -

    And then there’s this one:

    Suzanne Researched This Commercial:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ubsd-tWYmZw – 129k -

    Highest Rated Comments

    “Suzanne went back to stripping.”

  18. Joey Cupcakes says:

    January 19th, 2011 at 10:06 am

    http://www.bakedbymelissa.com/

    1/4 size cupcakes at half the price!!!!! I actually like them as the first bite of a confectionery cupcake is great but it gets disgusting very fast, which is why the mini cupcake is such a brilliant idea and an intermediary step to the ideal world of no cupcake at all.

    More confirmation of the cupcake craze destroying a once great institution, or in this case 2 great institutions the Mafia and Rao’s:

    Joey Cupcakes Is Taken Down, From Rao’s Wall
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/15/nyregion/15raos.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

  19. Karen De Coster says:

    January 19th, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Melissa’s: “Create the cupcake of your dreams?”

    No further comment….

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