Saturday, September 15, 2007

They'd kick more ass if they were bigger

A new bakery has opened in Somerville, and you can tell the business is just chock-full of attitude.


1) It's called
Kickass Cupcakes (which just proves it's not your grandmama's bakery, mister!)

2) The have craaaazy flavors like the vegan Java Jolt, the Blue Velvet (kinky!) and the Movie Matinee Special (topped with gummy candy! That's just crazy!).

3) They charge $2.75 per cake.

Well, sure, you say. Seems reasonable. After all, Starbucks asks two bucks for a blueberry muffin.

Yes, but one Starbucks pastry is as big as your fist and will keep you going until lunch. The cupcakes that claim kickassishness, on the other hand, are, well, dainty.

Now you can say it: three bucks for that?

In fairness, our chosen Mojito flavor was pretty tasty. The cake was light, buttery, airy. The buttercream frosting, though a little too sweet, had a fresh lime tang, garnished with ribbons of fresh mint.

But sticker-shock meant we just got one to share, and it was about as satisfying as a couple of cookies. Enough cake for a fulfilling snack would have set us back a tenner (and lasted about five minutes); the same amount could buy a decent bottle of Pinot Gris or a half-pound of Manchego and some boquerones. I know which I'd prefer.

Am I being overly touchy about this? Possibly. But if so, it's in part because I know how cheap and easy it is to whip up a batch of cupcakes. I grew up with the Be-Ro cookbook, standard issue in economical northern English households since the 1920s and a great resource for
recipes for good ol' British cakes and pastries (Bakewell tart, Cornish pasties, Maids of Honour and, yes, Spotted Dick).

And I know that, given 20 minutes, my mom can create a dozen double-chocolate cakes that are just as fluffy as those claiming kickassocity. (And, given 20 minutes more, my dad can dispose of them.)

Okay, not everyone has my mom's veteran baking skills. But are these purportedly rear-beating cakes really so much better than the mass-produced supermarket versions?

Or is their value not in the taste, but rather in the attitude they convey: an overlap of nostalgia, liberty and irony?

The neo-cupcake concept is aimed at the twentysomething crowd--fresh out of college, with disposable income, a longing for hipness and a vague yearning for the security of childhood. They love the fact that (finally!) mom and dad can't stop them doing whatever they want: staying out late, ignoring their homework, overdosing on overpriced cupcakes. Rock 'n' roll!

I know, I know. You come here for vicarious living and food pr0n, and instead you get half-baked pop psychology.

Okay. We're eating at
Rialto tonight (first time since the makeover). Perhaps normal service will resume tomorrow.

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