Apologies for the lack of blog-love lately, my features got rather on top of me for a little while.
Something I couldn’t help but notice at the Masterchef Live show was the abundance of cupcake stalls. Many were heaving with beautifully decorated cakes, surrounded by bunting and polka-dot, apt for a company with a name like Cute Country Cupcakes.
Just as many were selling paisley cases, edible glitter and sugar flowers to replicate these cakes at home. My sister, who was with me, is absolutely crazy about cupcakes and came close to spending £10 on disposable cupcake cases. American commentators have been moaning about the rise in cupcakes for some time, some even suggesting that cupcakes are selfish. And the craze has hit Britain in a big way.
Why? Cupcakes seem to be endemic of the larger trend for “kitsch” which has had all my friends knitting tea cosies for quite some time, and as I admitted before is one of the reasons why I fill my cupboards with chutney around this time every year. It seems odd that in a post-feminist society, women would make a conscious decision to associate themselves with such symbols of domestic oppression.
The key, however, is the choice. For a long time, baking, knitting and other domestic crafts were the only way in which women could express themselves. Now we live in a society in which we have the choice to neglect these completely. But why does equality mean we have to embrace only non-domestic, masculine crafts and pastimes?
Cupcakes don’t sound like much of a platform for feminist revolution, but as Tanis Taylor argues so well about knitting, they can help recreate community spirit which is so often lost in today’s multi-screened world. Spending a few hours doing something which actually creates something is undeniably satisfying. To be able to see the product of your effort makes craft worthwhile, whether the end product be a knitted tea-cosy, jar after jar of chutney, or a ridiculous looking confectionary product decorated with cartoon dinosaurs.
At the end of the day though, cupcakes are a food product before they are any kind of feminist symbol, and I accept that. But to lambast them for being symptomatic of an increasing infantile obsession with “cuteness” as Vanity Fair have this month seems a little ridiculous. I also don’t take kindly to the idea that their individual sizing makes them in anyway selfish, or emblematic of a “me-me-me” generation. Conversely, their portability makes them ideal for gifts. Especially if they are anywhere near as elaborate as Katjas Kupcakes, for example, making them a work of art that it would seem a shame to eat. As for me, after a few hours leering at my cupcake, I ate it all with a worrying desperation. Then felt sick.