Cupcake Obsession: Is the Designer Cupcake Trend Here to Stay?

If you're wondering whether the designer cupcake trend is here to stay or just a passing fad, you're not alone: Cupcake lovers worldwide believe that one of the most beloved desserts of all time has perpetual staying power. In the last 10 years — from 2004 to 2014 — the cupcake has been consistently on the rise, even though other tasty sweets have tried to knock it off its pedestal.

A 10-year look at cupcakes against other sweet treats on Google Trends speaks for itself. The charming French macaron, while hitting a high in 2012, didn't manage to unseat the humble cupcake. Whoopie pies, doughnuts and cake pops came close, but never reached the cupcake's status as a lasting food trend. Consider these famous cupcake vendors:

  • Crumbs Bake Shop: Although Crumbs Bake Shop closed its 48 remaining stores earlier in 2014, it hasn't slowed down cupcake sales in other venues. According to Dallas News, two other cupcake chains — Sprinkles and Magnolia Bakery — say they hope to avoid Crumbs' fate by expanding more slowly and trying new things.
  • Sprinkles Cupcakes and Cupcake ATM: With seven ATM locations and three more on the way, Sprinkles has raised the cupcake bar to loftier heights. Beverly Hills-based Sprinkles opened the world's first cupcake ATM in March 2012. The colorful 24-hour ATMs dispense freshly baked cupcakes for early-morning and late-night sweet-treat fixes.

Cupcakes in the Media

If you're not convinced the designer cupcake trend is here to stay, turn on the television, open a magazine or take a peek at Pinterest and foodie blogs. Cupcakes continue to have a definite influence in the media. Case in point: One of the world's most recognizable celebrities, Kim Kardashian, is seen holding a cupcake on the cover of the latest issue of Elle UK. There are even several cupcake-themed TV programs:

  • 'Cupcake Wars': Similar to its popular "Chopped" series, Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" pits contestants against each other to create cupcakes with unusual ingredients and, ultimately, to snag a $10,000 reward. This highly rated show boasts 114 episodes with cupcakes as the main star.
  • 'D.C. Cupcakes': Not to be outdone by Food Network's hit cupcake show, TLC began airing its own reality cupcake TV series, "D.C. Cupcakes." Sisters Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis from Georgetown Cupcake, a small cupcakery located in Washington, D.C., have whipped up thousands of designer cupcakes in the show's 29 mouthwatering episodes.
  • 'Sex and the City': Nothing has been able to stop the cupcake craze since "Sex and the City" protagonist Carrie Bradshaw took a bite of a cupcake from Greenwich Village's Magnolia Bakery. The episode has been credited with the start of the current cupcake revolution, and it stuck!
  • '2 Broke Girls': Max and Caroline own and operate a cupcake shop called Max's Homemade Cupcakes in the sitcom "2 Broke Girls." This popular show is in its fourth season, with the girls hawking their colorful cupcakes after midnight.

10 Popular Cupcakes

  • Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, of course!
  • Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate fudge or vanilla frosting.
  • Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting.
  • Carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
  • Peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and peanut butter frosting.
  • Martha Stewart's Hi-Hat Cupcakes with meringue frosting, dipped in semisweet or milk chocolate coating.
  • Chocolate cream-filled cupcakes with chocolate glaze and white icing squiggle on top — think Hostess cakes.
  • Lemon cupcakes with lemon Swiss meringue buttercream frosting.
  • Bacon Today's Maple Bacon Cupcakes with maple syrup frosting.
  • Food Network's Salted Caramel Cupcakes is a "Cupcake Wars" winner, filled with gooey salted caramel and topped with coconut-caramel brittle frosting.

There's no doubt about it — the designer cupcake trend isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Stop by your local cupcakery and discover a new and exciting cupcake, or flip through your favorite baking cookbooks and create one of your own.

If you are interested in learning new baking and pastry skills, consider enrolling in a culinary arts program or weekend workshop.

Photo credit: Donna Diegel