Ah yes, the food trend story.
In today’s age of Upworthy, Buzzfeed and attention-grabbing viral headlines, we see a lot of them… consider this story from the Huffington Post titled, “We’re Just Going To Declare That 2014 Is The Year Of The Sheet Cake.”
And when talking about food trends, it is impossible to ignore the cupcake. The most frequently-told tale about the ascendance of the treat is rooted in a scene in Sex and the City that supposedly launched it into our collective cultural conciousness. Early on in his book, Sax asks a question: “Thousands of years in the future, when archaeologists are cobing through the artificants of our age… will the archaeologists recognize cupcakes?”
“In the first decade of the the twenty-first century there were cakes baked in cups, cakes of every imaginable flavor and combination; that these cakes were covered in sweet frosting, in everything from simple vanilla creams to elaborate artistic 3-D creations, that for more than ten years these little cakes were a subject of great power and fasination all over the world; and that all of that, from the global tribes of devoted bakers to the chroniclers of the phenomenon to the multibillion-dollar cupcake economy, all began here, on this sacred corner of Manhattan, at this small bakery.”
But Sax says it’s not as simple as Carrie and Miranda eating cupcakes on screen.
“Sex and the City was distilled down into all these different consumer items that were attached to it. Sex and the City!: Manolo Blahnik heels, Rabbit vibrators, cupcakes and Cosmos, come on ladies!” Sax says. “And when I went on the Sex and City [tourist bus] tour, that was sort of the essence of it… but anytime you read an article about Sex and the City… they all referenced it, ‘Go to Magnolia Bakery, because that’s where Carrie and Miranda’s favorite cupcake place is,’ and it just perpetuated itself.”
“It was a 20-second scene in one episode of the show. There was never another cupcake in Sex and the City that ever appeared again. And yet it has this incredibly strong association with the show that transformed the cucpake.”
If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air. But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.
Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.
When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.