Why do I do a men's gift guide every year? Because I am, so they tell me, a man, so I should know, right?
You know that one sexy Dior commercial where Charlize Theron is ripping off her fancy accouterments whilst catwalking through Liberace's bonus room with Marvin Gaye serenading her material strip tease?
"Gold is cold," sirens Char and off with the necklace! "Diamonds are dead. A limousine is a car. Don't pretend. Feel what's real. That's it. J'adore, j'adore. Dior." Then she slinks off into the sunset with nothing on but her birthday suit and, we're to assume, some $100 dollar perfume.
The lingering message is 1. Charlize Theron is too sexy for her clothes and 2. all that other stuff is just smoke and mirrors. The only thing that's real is the real thing. Don't accept the prettified version. Go bare. And also, BUY OUR PERFUME.
Anyway that was the long division on my divisive feelings regarding cupcakes. Yep, cupcakes.
In the years since these tiny treats took off, I have tried for the life of me to figure out why anyone is willing to pay anything over a dollar and wait in line for anything longer than five minutes for what boils down to a fist of cake. It's like if I handed you a handful of mac n' cheese and said, "Now that'll be 10 bucks." We could've all sat down to a nice mac n' cheese for that much!
But this is not a cupcake bash party, mostly because so many people like paying extra for cuteness and I myself have succumbed time and again to the "just pick up a thing of cupcakes" cure-all to most festive dilemmas. And yet according the Daily Mail, America is waking up from its cupcake coma and sales are way down. Crumbs, which is apparently a publicly traded company, has seen its stock drop from an initial 2011 price of $13/share to $1.70/share. Investing in food fads is clearly not the best retirement option. Thank god I ignored the gas station lady's inside tip on lemon squares.
Anyway, the Mail quotes a guy named Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Chicago research and consulting firm that specializes in the food industry.
"It's a short term trend," he said of the sugary desserts. He added, "Demand is flat. And quite frankly, people can bake cupcakes."
I was all aboard the cupcake hate train until that quote because really I do make a lot of things I pay for. I can bake a pizza, too, but I don't. The demand is in the convenience. Mostly what bothers me about cupcakes is illusion that you're getting something terribly special and impossibly fancy and maybe even a little impractical so therefore you should pay an upcharge for the sheer coolness of it all.
The whole experience is just too self-aware for me -- and I realize how snobbish and cynical that sounds. Why can't I just eat the damn cake?!
Still, with the rest of the country possibly peeping the carnival trick of the bakery game, I'm now wondering what ironic and nostalgic treat will fill the holes in everyone's stomach. I've got my fingers crossed for something super old school and "Game of Thrones"-y like pigeon meat pies but they don't have that catchy ring to them.