Friday, August 27, 2010

This Too Shall (Hopefully) Pass

In case you haven’t been keeping track, it’s now been over ten years since the airing of the “Sex & the City” episode that kicked off the gourmet cupcake craze. And in that time, gussied-up cupcakes have sprung up everywhere across this country like bedbugs and mold. Throw a rock in any direction and it’s likely to hit a cupcake cookbook, blog, television show, costume or toy. Or, with any luck, one of these rolling, limbless cupcake people:

Don't get me wrong: I'm not immune to the saccharine charms of a good cupake. I’ll confess to having visited cupcakeries from coast to coast, from Magnolia Bakery in New York and Sugar Mama's in Alaska to Sprinkles and Kara’s in California. We occasionally pick up a box or three of cupcakes for parties, and we’ve been known to custom-order vast quantities of Star Wars-themed cupcakes for our kids' birthdays.

But come on, people: It’s 2010. Cupcake fetishism is so, so tired. Can we please move along to the next food-related fad? Something a little less crappy for you?

Case in point: Here’s the nutritional breakdown of just one red velvet cupcake from Sprinkles (which is fairly representative of most gourmet cupcakes):
  • Calories: 497
  • Calories from Fat: 241
  • Total Fat: 26.8g
  • Saturated Fat: 16g
  • Cholesterol: 104mg
  • Sodium: 412mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 61.5g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1g
  • Sugars: 45g
  • Protein: 6g 
Exercise can't compensate for a bad diet, but even if it could, you’d have to run a 10K to burn off just this one cupcake. And you’d still have to contend with the tidal wave of insulin released in response to the massive sugar intake, which is going to nicely plump up the adipose fat cells in your hips, arms, ass and jellyroll with triglycerides. Plus, all that running’s made you even hungrier, so you’re unlikely to stop at just one cupcake.

But hey: At least you’re only sucking down cupcakes on rare, super-special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, right?


Paleo poster child John Durant recently penned a post entitled “Why Gourmet Cupcakes are Evil,” which made the point that up-market cupcakes are insidious because they give sugar addicts an excuse to indulge on a regular basis. While “[n]ice cakes are too big, too expensive, too luxurious” for everyday snacking, those cute, innocent-looking little cupcakes aren’t. And yet they’re sufficiently fancy, nostalgia-inducing and affordable to make cupcake enthusiasts feel like they’re getting a special treat -- even if they’re helping themselves to another frosting-slathered gut bomb every other day.

Unless you're hoping for pre-diabetes, cupcakes shouldn't be a staple of your diet. Strip away the sprinkles, paper liner and cutesy hype, and all you're left with is plain, old, not-very-special cake. Besides, much like heroin, cupcakes are so passé. Even the tacky Sex & the City tour bus has dropped Magnolia from its route. So put down that box of cupcakes, and back away slowly.