Cupcakes Win the Hearts of Upper West Siders

16 Jul

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I set out on a journey to the most popular bakeries on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. As a lover of sweet treats, I was out on a mission to have a question answered. What do people like to treat themselves to, and why? When people see their favorite treats, their eyes widen and mouths begin to water. But why? Though all the confectionary, I wanted to know what really gets these Upper West Siders excited about the sweets they know and love.

I visited three of the most well known bakeries on the Upper West Side: Magnolia Bakery, Buttercup Bake Shop, and Crumbs.  With the consent of the managers, I asked customers what their favorite treat was in the shop, and why.

I began my search at Magnolia Bakery, located on 69th and Columbus. Stepping inside, I was in a euphoria of buttery aroma. After asking a couple of customers a few questions, it became very clear that the most popular sweet in the shop was the Red Velvet Cupcake. A young woman named Alice, declared the Red Velvet Cupcake her favorite item to order when she comes to Magnolia. When I asked her if it reminds her of anything, she said: “The red cake reminds me of Valentine’s Day.”

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She also said that she thinks of love songs when she eats it, for the same reason. “When you eat it, the red cake and the white buttercream frosting start to blend together, leaving a sort of pink cream on your lips.” Seeing as they are so popular, I bought a Red Velvet to try for myself. To say the least, I understand why eating one of these rich, colorful cupcakes makes Alice think about love.

My next stop on the road to a sugary enlightenment was Buttercup Bake Shop, on 72nd between Broadway and Columbus. Walking through the bakery my eyes were glued to the endless array of cupcakes behind the glass casing. Asking around the shop, I learned that customers go crazy for Buttercup’s classic vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting. However, Buttercup Bake Shop makes even plain vanilla exciting. They color their frosting so that customers can chose from a variety of not only taste pleasing, but eye pleasing cupcakes. Gwen, a common customer at Buttercup Bake Shop, says “The Vanilla cupcake with blue vanilla frosting is my favorite. It reminds me of birthdays, when my mom used to bake me an all-vanilla cake. There is something very comforting about it.” I couldn’t agree more after trying my own vanilla cupcake.

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Of course, the pink frosting with rainbow sprinkles didn’t hurt either.

My final destination was Crumbs, located on 74th and Amsterdam. There were not only cakes and cupcakes, but colossal cupcakes. I asked the woman serving the treats, what was most popular order was. “Our customers usually order the Blackout, Sgwiggle, or Peanut Butter Cup.”The “Blackout” is chocolate cake filled with chocolate buttercream mixed with chocolate ganache, topped with chocolate cream cheese frosting and chocolate crumbs drizzled with chocolate.

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The “Squiggle” is chocolate cake filled with vanilla buttercream and covered in chocolate ganache icing with the original squiggle on top. The “Peanut Butter Cup” is rich chocolate cake filled and frosted with our peanut butter cream cheese frosting and topped with peanut butter cup wedges and edged in crushed peanuts and chocolate chips.Looking at the trays of cupcakes behind the glass, it wasn’t hard to spot the top favorites. Each one was more decadent than the next, and absolutely mouth watering. “They make the customers happy”, the employee added. I decided on the Blackout, seeing as I am a true chocolate believer. Its dark rich color and chocolate swirls on top of the cupcake painted the perfect picture of what you are diving into when you eat this cupcake. It was chocolate bliss. There is no doubt that I will be back to try more creative confections.

After visiting the bakeries and talking to the customers, it seems that when people want to feel good, they grab their favorite cupcake and dig in. Whether it be red velvet, vanilla, or a crazy mashup of classic american favorites. There is something about these mini-cakes that evokes pleasant memories in whomever takes a lick of it’s creamy frosting. Even the flavors can be reminiscent of songs to some sweets lovers. There is no question, when it comes to treating ourselves, you won’t find a better way than to pick any love-covered, happy cake, that we call cup-cakes.

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