Stand up for nonprofit news & help us reach our $100,000 goal! GIVE NOW
Marketplace Scratch Pad

Hey, cupcake

Paddy Hirsch Aug 8, 2009

Actress Aisha Tyler (24, CSI, Friends etc., etc.) joined us at the Marketplace Whiteboard yesterday.

She came by because she wanted to discuss a plan to lift the economy using everyone’s favorite tea-time diversion: cupcakes.

How could we refuse?

Here’s the gist of Aisha’s plan to stimulate the economy: give away nine thousand cupcakes. She thought this was a bit of a giggle, and, in fact, the reason she came by was so that she could film a short bit for a new comedy show she’s piloting for ABC television.

Except that, no joke, giving away nine thousand cupcakes is truly stimulative. We’re assuming here that Aisha’s not baking the cakes herself, rather she’s buying them from somewhere like Auntie Em’s, SusieCakes or the Big Sugar Bakeshop (she brought some cakes from Big Sugar with her, and they were great, by the way.)

By going out and spending some $36,000 on cupcakes, Aisha is juicing the economy in a significant way. For a start, whatever bake shop she patronizes will be very happy to have her business: maybe the staff get a pay rise (they’ll certainly feel more secure with an order like that); maybe the shop will go out and hire some new people. The profits from the sale might go to placing some ads in the local papers (heaven knows they need the cash) or perhaps to refurbish the store or buy some new signage or equipment.

You can see how Aisha’s money is starting to ripple through the economy.

It goes the other way, too. To fill the order, the baker is going need ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, chocolate, food coloring, paper wrapper, and boxes to put all the cakes in. Aisha’s order is now giving a boost to the local supermarkets and, by extension, the dairy business, paper manufacturers, sugar processors, chemical companies and, of course, good old Willy Wonka.

Then there’s sentiment. When a big order like Aisha’s comes in the door, everyone gets excited. Suddenly people start feeling better about their businesses, about their jobs, and about their longer-term prospects. They’re more confident about life, in other words. And these business owners and employees are consumers, too. As their confidence about their situation improves, so does their willingness to spend, and the more they spend, the more businesses benefit, and so on and so forth until the entire economy begins to lift.

There’s another significant stimulus worth mentioning here: the feeling of well-being that comes from giving or receiving a delicious cupcake. It’s hard to put a price on that kind of goodwill (some would say it’s priceless), but anything that lifts spirits in tough times is a good thing, and that could filter into the economy, too.

Then there’s the obvious stimulus involved in giving away cupcakes: the sugar rush. But as Aisha pointed out, a sugar rush is too often followed by a sugar crash, with all those feelings of lethargy and guilt.

Yes, crashes are best avoided, sugar or otherwise, so go easy! If it’s a really good cupcake, you only need one, and it’s best savored slowly.

Perhaps with a nice cup of tea. (Aisha’s a Darjeeling fan, fyi).

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.