A Think Piece About Cupcakes? Think Again.

When I saw the teaser for Corby Kummer’s story on Cupcakes in an online promotion for the March issue of The Atlantic, I got excited, thinking that finally someone had stepped back to look intelligently at this whole unintelligible cupcake craze.

The teaser went like this:
Not So Guilty Pleasure – The Atlantic (March 2009)
Corby Kummer explains the cupcake craze and demonstrates how to do a proper taste … for maximal lightness; you can find it at theatlantic.com/cupcakes. …

You can understand my excitement. After all, this was not People, this was The Atlantic (which I still think of as The Atlantic Monthly), a magazine founded by a group that included Ralph Waldo Emerson, a magazine that Wikipedia describes as being “aimed at a target of ‘thought leaders.'” I figured that whatever Kummer had to say about cupcakes had to be smart. And then what with the word “explains” in that teaser, call me crazy—I expected an explanation. But you know what they way about expectations…

In the article, in fact, Kummer didn’t explain the craze at all. He didn’t even touch on an explanation. Like everyone else, despite the fact that he was writing for a smarty-pants publication, all he did was add more fodder to the usual chowhound fire. He evaluated some cupcake shops and added his own dos centavos. Dictates like: No cooked buttercream. Shocking news such as Magnolia’s cake lacks flavor.

Kummer favors the cupakes from Baked & Wired (pictured  here), a Georgetown cafe whose cupcakes, he says, have”exactly the right crackle” when you bite into them. I have never tried these, and maybe it’s just me, but “crackle,” isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of ideal cupcakes. I do, however, love the name of the bakery and the paper they use instead of standard paper cups. These are cupcakes I would like to try, and I don’t say that often. Still. This is in a magazine that is supposed to make us think? I think they could do better.

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