How many times have you heard someone say that “X” is the new cupcake? I’ve heard that phrase applied to all sorts of things over the years, from macarons to pie. Yet, despite its naysayers, the mighty cupcake has persisted. Sure, other sweets have had their moment in the spotlight: the cronut, for example, got impressive airtime and spawned tons of copycats. But none of the pretenders to the dessert throne have had quite the same impact as the glorious cupcake, both in terms of its physical availability and its imprint on the American dessert psyche. One bakery even has Cupcake ATMs!
When cupcake powerhouse Crumbs recently announced that it was shutting its doors, the “cupcakes are over” cries began anew. You know what though? I’m just not buying it. Perhaps Crumbs over expanded, but that doesn’t mean the dessert’s glory days are totally over. It just means that one well-known, pricey competitor didn’t make their business model work. And besides, Crumbs was already rescued, anyway- by the company that owns Dippin’ Dots.
Some Slate writers searched the Nexis database to find instances of the phrase “the new cupcake” and found that 57 different foods have been given that treatment over the past few years. Macarons have the most mentions, followed by pie. I was surprised to see things like burgers and hot dogs on the list, too, but I guess that just shows how the phrase has taken on a life of its own. It’s no longer really about the cupcakes, and what’s going to replace cupcakes as America’s favorite dessert. Instead, it’s become a way to talk about trends, as a whole. Makes me think about those scenes from Josie and the Pussycats where they constantly introduce new colors as “the new black” and then “the new red,” etc. Anyone? Alright, moving along then.
Take a look at Slate‘s handy phrase tracking chart. Any surprises in there for you? Their research uncovered that the phrase was first used in a press release about brownies. At least that makes sense- calling “empanadas” the new cupcake is much less linear!
In honor of the cupcake’s sure-to-be ongoing reign, here are some of the recipes I hope to make before 2014 is over:
- Horchata Cupcakes
- Chocolate Coconut Milk Carrot Cupcakes
- Red, White and Blue Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes
- Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes