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Wooing the Cupcake Vote

We stopped in at the Cupcake Royale in Ballard the other day to purchase some vital food. A sign by the cash register caught my eye. It read: “I’m pro-cupcake and I vote.”

It spoke to me. Sure, there are plenty of other political agendas out there which get my support. I feel sympatico with Sandra Bullock in this area. I really do want world peace. But, like Ms. Bullock, I sometimes find the forces lined up on the opposing side, the proponents of terror, chaos and soul crushing greed, to be all but overwhelming. To keep my strength up in the continuing struggle for a better, kinder, more equitable world, nothing hits the spot quite like a cupcake. Thus, my credo: Let there be cupcakes.

I realize that there are those who will misunderstand. Some may question the idea that something small and sweet could have any impact in a world so breathlessly out of whack. But, mighty oceans are composed of tiny drops. Vast prairies are formed from single blades of grass. So why not a sea change in the tide of human affairs precipitated by a mulitiude of cupcakes, evenly dispersed?

Let us consider the Way of the Cupcake. It is small. Modest in its dimensions, yet possessing more character than a mere cookie or scoop of ice cream. A cupcake has personality, style and, most importantly, icing. We all understand intuitively the significance of “the icing on the cake.” It’s that little bit of extra which makes us feel, if only for a moment or two, that all may not be lost.

Unlike a cake or a pie or a flan, a cupcake is democratic. No one gets a bigger slice than anyone else. One size fits all. This is why cupcakes are the treat of choice for classroom celebrations, bake sales and office parties. A cupcake by its very diminutive nature cannot be that bad for us. Okay, maybe six cupcakes at one go would not be exactly prudent, but I rarely indulge to that extent.

There was a time when the cupcake was viewed primarily as an indulgence for the very young. But, though we boomers have aged (I won’t say matured), some of us have yet to outgrow the simple pleasure of the cupcake, even if we no longer thrill to the “surprise” inside Hostess cupcakes. And, naturally, market forces being what they are, there’s a whole new breed of cupcake out there aimed at us.

Gourmet cupcakes, arty high concept cupcakes crowd the shelves in trendy shops in New York. In an episode of Sex and the City which resonated far beyond the urban core, the self-indulgent heroine Carrie Bradshaw ate a cupcake with an inch thick pile of frosting from the Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village. That bakery’s cupcakes were famous before they made an appearance on HBO. The Magnolia cupcakes’ popularity is due not just to the delicacy of the cakes, or the sweetness of the frosting, or even the over-the-top presentation. It’s the critical ratio of icing-to-cake that sets Magnolia’s cupcakes ahead of many competitors.It’s a tricky thing. Too much frosting can be disgusting. Not enough frosting is a disappointment. To properly balance the two components is one of the secrets to making a great cupcake.

I have eaten a fair number of cupcakes over the years, and I have learned that price is no guarantee of quality. One of the worst cupcakes I ever bit into came from Whole Foods, a place known for its gourmet provisions. The cupcake cost almost $3 and looked like a little work of art. But the icing tasted like whipped lard and the cake was dry and hard as a cracker. I threw it away after one bite. And I never do that.

A cupcake is a small thing. Some might say, an unimportant thing. But, to me, a cupcake is a miniature gift, a small celebration. It’s a party you can hold in your hand. And it’s a party to which everyone on the planet should be invited. A cupcake, in its own tiny sweet way, symbolizes equality – the idea that everyone, regardless of race, gender or point of origin, deserves a chance to earn a life complete with cupcakes.

A cupcake and a fair shake. That’s a platform I can get behind.
And when I say behind, a mean a really big one. Like votes, even little cupcakes add up. Mmmmmm, cupcakes. That’s the ticket.

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