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So where do cupcakes come from?

the cupcake frenzy The cupcake is an infamous delicacy for a bakery treat. Small, soft, and delicious, cupcakes provide a youthful and simple delight for bakers and consumers. Today, we are surrounded by cupcake shops, designers, and bakers that continuously invent unique flavors and cupcake designs. The act of baking and decorating cupcakes has become a special craft. But where and when did cupcakes originate? Although the cupcake frenzy has continued to prosper, many have questioned whether the trend will last. The scattered history of the cupcake may provide insight into how this small treat has continued to gain popularity over centuries.


No matter how artful and grown-up we make a cupcake, in creating it, we tap the passion for color, shape, texture, and sweet-tasting things in which we once took such unabashed pleasure.



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the first cupcake recipe The first recipe for a cupcake was mentioned in 1796 in American Cookery, a cookbook written by Amelia Simmons. She titles the recipe, “A light cake to bake in small cups,� which includes half a pound of sugar, half a pound of butter, two pounds of flour, one glass of wine, nutmeg, cinnamon and currants.


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behind the name No one knows exactly where the name for the cupcake originated; however, there are two main theories for how it came to be.




Cupcakes were originally cooked in cups, hence “cupcake.”


The ingredients of the cupcake provided its name since they were measured out by the cup.

1234 recipe “number” cakes

Back in the day, cu pcakes were referr ed to as “number” cakes so people co uld easily remembe r their ingredients: 1 cup butter 2 cups sugar 3 cups flour 4 eggs 1 cup milk 1 spoonful of soda


1828 rec

two at added th 8 2 8 1 e in cake recip and half a , p s u e c v a lo c te , o r e wr suga Eliza Lesli es, brown s s la o m f ups o cipe. large tea-c typical re e th to r e g cup of gin r gar, butte u s n w o r sses, b 5 eggs ll of mola fu s p u -c a 2 large te ich milk. 1 cup of r d s. flour, sifte f o s and clove p u e c ic 5 p s ll a d f powdere 1/2 cup o f ginger 1/2 cup o

1833 recipe The American Frugal House wife by Mrs. Child used the 123 4 cupcake recipe in 1833. Mrs. Child noted the cupcake to be as good as pound cake but ch eaper. 1 cup of butter 2 cups of sugar 3 cups of flour 4 eggs

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Beat together, bake in cups for

20 minutes.

historic cupcake recipes The second, third, and fourth cupcake recipes in history are all found in cookbooks from the 1800s. Cupcakes began to gain popularity over larger cakes due to their simple ingredients and faster cooking time.

1871 recipe

pcontained a cu k o o B ry ke o o uthern C eam of orter’s New So P . rs M , spoon of dry cr 71 a 18 te e In n o d n a eg at added nutm cake recipe th ts. sual ingredien tartar to the u gar 4 cupsful of su eggs 5 well-beaten utter 1/2 cupful of b am (or milk) 1 cupful of cre our 6 cupsful of fl nutmeg r cream of tarta ry d f o l fu n o o 1 teasp


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the new popular treat In the 1900s, cupcakes evolved as a popular treat for children due to their easy and fast baking time. The shift from weighing out ingredients to measuring ingredients saved more time in the kitchen, and gem pans (know as muffin tins today) were the perfect size for cupcakes.

let’s hear it for 1919 The year 1919 was a transitional year for the United States. World War I had ended, prohibition was about to begin, and women were fighting for their right to vote. Along with these major events, Hostess introduced their first snack cake: the cupcake! The original Hostess cupcake was different from today’s recipe. It was a devil’s food cake, but it lacked the creme filling in the center and the white looped icing on top.

icing and red velvet In the 1920s, elaborate icing flavors had yet to come: cupcakes were hand-iced in either vanilla or chocolate icing at the time. This decade was also responsible for the birth of red velvet cakes (and cupcakes!). As the story goes, Dean Blair encountered this unique cake flavor at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City in the early 1920s. After returning to San Jose, Dean was interested in obtaining the recipe from the chef. The Waldorf-Astoria responded by billing Dean a large amount for the cake’s recipe. As a consequence, Dean decided to spread the recipe through a chain letter and recipe cards, which led to the cake’s popularity today.

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more variety for all The 1940s brought more variety for cupcake icing and flavors. For a period of time, cupcakes were available with malted milk icing, and then came orange icing to compliment orange cupcakes.

a classic design is born In 1950, Hostess decided to improve their cupcake design by asking D.R. “Doc” Rice to redesign their tasty snack. Rice, who received his “Doc” nickname due to his initials, added a creme filling to the cupcakes, as well as better cake mix, purer chocolate icing, and a straight line of white icing on top. He soon noticed the thin line was not enough, and a white loop-deloop with seven loops was added to spruce up the snack’s appeal. Hostess then enjoyed their increased sales as the cupcakes were widely accepted and turned into a classic snack icon.

cupcakes to go From the 1960s through the 1980s, cupcakes were becoming a popular treat in the American household.

jim mies

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After Hostess introduced their signature cupcake, other brands began to sell packages of premade cupcakes. Stouffers sold a six pack of cupcakes in various flavors, such as Iced Yellow, Devil’s Fudge, Cream Filled and Lemon Filled. One ad from 1972 added that “Some are topped with lots of jimmies. (You might call them sprinkles.) And some with lots of nuts.” Today, many remember these delicious Stouffers snacks from their childhood.

the trend begins The Magnolia Bakery in New York City doesn’t appear as any extraordinary from the outside, yet it is credited as the shop who started the cupcake frenzy of the late 90s and early 2000s. When Sex and the City decided to display the bakery in one of their episodes, they never anticipated the results. Carrie Bradshaw (played by actress Sarah Jessica Parker) sent Sex and the City fans crazy over cupcakes. Soon, the Magnolia Bakery was transformed into a popular tourist spot, and a cupcake love affair began.



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a cupcake boom With the news of the delicious Magnolia Bakery treats, cupcakes were growing as a new national favorite in the early 2000s. They soon became a mainstream trend as cupcake shops, blogs, TV shows, books, and games emerged into the American culture. What made them so popular? Many critics believe childhood nostalgia played a role as cupcakes became more personalized. Whatever the reason, the sugary treats grew more varied in flavor and design each year.

popular TV shows

In 2008, Georgetown Cupcakes in Washington, D.C. aired a television series on TLC called DC Cupcakes. The cupcake shop was formed by sisters Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontage, who learned how to bake from their Greek grandmother. The show became a popular success, and soon two other TV shows focused exclusively on cupcakes: Cupcake Wars and The Cupcake Girls.

blogs and cupcakeries As television shows highlighted the cupcake trend, blogs formed to discuss the tasty treats on the social platform. A selection of blogs became connoisseurs for cupcake lovers looking for recipes, products and facts. Cupcake shops began to appear in major cities, such as New York City and Washington, D.C. For the first time, bakeries began to sell only cupcake treats: cupcakeries!



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atures any Blog that fe orned with product “ad a cupcake.�




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unique flavors As “cupcakeries” sprung up across the nation in major cities, there was more variety in cupcake flavors, colors, and presentation. Soon, the classic flavors evolved into exotic tastes that catered to any craving or occasion. So what are some examples of “unique” cupcake?

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cupcakes in new form Today, the cupcake has evolved into a thriving industry, full of creativity and growing businesses. As this delicacy becomes more popular, people have found new ways in which to experience it. Cake pops have risen as the new cupcake over the past few years. In addition to new flavors and forms, cupcakes are continuing to grow as a personalized treat for weddings, parties, holidays, gifts, and even corporate events.

future of cupcakes So where are cupcakes headed next? Some claim the industry and cupcake craze will eventually die down, while others insist it is here to stay and expand. In any event, the cupcake will always be viewed as a simple treat that evokes a youthful happiness, no matter what size or flavor. The proof can be found in its popularity and growing numbers!

11 CUPCAKE is consumed for every adult in the U.S. every day.

29 CUPCAKES in 30 seconds is the

world record for eating cupcakes in one sitting.

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CUPCAKES have been banned in New York City schools to help lower obesity.

all the facts

1224 lbs

1.5 cm tall, 3 cm wide




,0 $25

Well, technically. As part of the 2009 Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog, a Pongrace cupcake car was priced at $25.000. Although the car isn’t edible, it reaches 7 mph and comes in a variety of customized designs, or “flavors.” WORLD’S MOST EXPENSIVE CUPCAKE

FUN FACT Florida resident Suzanne Rutland claims to have eaten over

50,000 Hostess cupcakes in her lifetime!

History of Cupcakes (without title cover)  
History of Cupcakes (without title cover)  

Timeline of the history of cupcakes with illustrations.