Thanks to the popularity of the American TV series Sex and the City, these highly decorated little cakes, the signature product of New York city’s Magnolia Bakery, became objects of desire. The cupcake craze swept the world and took hold in Australia. By 2013, business pundits were predicting its demise, but some businesses are hanging on.
The Magnolia Bakery opened in the West Village precinct of New York in 1996, offering “classic American baked goods, vintage decor and warm, inviting atmosphere”. It is credited with initiating the cupcraze for cupcakes that seized the USA early in the 2000s and then went global – soon reaching Australia. It was featured in the TV series Sex and the City and in other movies and TV programs.
There are now five outlets in New York, as well as locations in Los Angeles and Chicago. The brand has also gone global, with outlets in Tokyo, Moscow City, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Kuwait City and Doha. There’s also a range of branded merchandise, including two cookbooks.
In Melbourne, The Cupcake Queens opened in 2005 and by 2020 had grown to have ten outlets in the city and surrounding areas. Similar businesses popped up around the country. The cupcake craze was followed by other cake trends. In 2008, an American home baker invented the cake pop – a small sphere of cake on a stick like a lollypop. Then, in 2010 the macaron craze threatened to make cupcakes passé. All these variations on the small cake now happily co-exist along with other more recent trends including cakes that don’t look like cakes at all.