The Rise of the Cupcake Class

Yes, Chris Briem actually used the phrase first, but he knows that I was thinking along the same lines and yet understandably reluctant to say it out loud.

Now that I think about the phrase, though, it makes perfect sense. Cities that want to compete economically in the 21st century need to attract and retain The Cupcake Class: People with the time, money, and taste to consume small portions of upscale baked goods.

Take a look at my small but expanding list of cupcake retailers; run a search on Google for cupcake blogs. What you find are cities laden with people who are energetic and entrepreneurial -- San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Washington DC. You find growing economies. These aren't necessarily the hippest places, but they are places that any city today would be proud to emulate. And these are cities that are putting away gourmet cupcakes by the truckload. Clearly, the more cupcakes-sold-per-capita, the better off a city is likely to be.

Next, and dovetailing only semi-seriously with my nascent series on The New Pittsburgh: Cupcake Class strategies. If we bake it, will they come?


3 Responses to "The Rise of the Cupcake Class"

Anonymous said... 11/28/2006 11:39 AM

Actually, I invented the phrase "Cupcake Class" in the early '70's, but I was referring to the Mister Rogers crowd. I certainly can't refute the analysis above, but I can't help but think that, at the very least, it would be very difficult for one of the old rust belt towns to break into this class. Has it ever happened? When we were the third largest Fortune 500 city in America, for many years, we probably had a disproportionate number of the Cupcake Class, or its equivalent back then, living here, but those days are over. Am I being too pessimistic, Mike/Chris?

C. Briem said... 11/28/2006 6:30 PM

Maybe we are seeking the lumpia class. Note Pittsburgh mentioned today in an ap article today in the online version of the Manila Standard Post: Click here for more...

Anonymous said... 12/10/2006 7:39 AM

Again, I must reference my grandmother -- a woman who ran her own bakery and for every birthday sent me to school with cupcakes (giving literal meaning to "cupcake class"), and for every Halloween gave children fresh-baked cupcakes (back in the '70s).

Of course, that was when kids actually said, "Trick or Treat," stepped inside your front door, and you'd spend a few minutes guessing who was who and tell them "my how you've grown!" (Even "Shorty" Hogan, just to make him feel good.)

Watching these kids receive a fresh-baked cupcake in-hand did give me some rather anecdotal stories about the dilemma it presented: they pretty much had to stuff it in their face on-the-spot or otherwise risk disaster if they dropped it in their bag. What can I say. My grandmother was a Sadist.

(In fact, once, she hit a man with a hot skillet --just to watch him fry.)

Anyway, even though it confounds me (yet it doesn't), if the cupcake du jour is tomorrow's bread and butter for us, so be it.

Icing the body electric.

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Updated September 2020:

Pittsblog 2.0 was written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, from January 2004 through December 2011.

Since then, Pittsburgh-themed essays have appeared from time to time at, on law and technology, and in some of Pittsburgh's classier professional media venues.

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