The wife bought cupcakes the other day. Four of them. Really pretty ones from Agnes Cupcakes. “They were delicious”, you’d think this blog post would end with, but no. It only begins with “the top half was delicious”.
I consider the cupcake a fundamentally flawed design. It’s basically a lavishly frosted and decorated muffin. The end result is a messy eat that gets dull as soon as you’ve devoured the top. It’s like starting with the dessert and once you’re full you’re given dinner. And not even a good dinner. Sure you can try to improve the cupcake design by carving chunks out of the cupcake-bottom, filling them with interesting curds and whatnot. The Wife tried, and as usual she succeeded. But that still means cutting chunks out of a muffin. Muffins deserve better.
The problem is not the muffin itself. The problem is the stark juxtaposition of the brilliantly inviting cupcake-adornment on the one hand, and the muffin on the other hand, which benumbs the latter into a damp, dreary affair. By focusing on beautiful swirls and delicious embellishments, the cupcake design turns the phrase “icing on the cake” on its head. Instead of being the glorious enrichment of an already delicious treat, the icing on the cupcake has become its sole raison d’être. I doubt even a cherry on top would help. To make matters worse, once you’re done eating that which you’re so obviously meant to eat first, your sugar intake is likely to be at a point where you’ll consider simply throwing the cupcake bottom away. A tragic fate in its own right, but an indictment of the cupcake design if there ever was one.
The cupcake design follows a pattern I see all too often these days. It’s the razor focus on presentation and appearance over substance and structure. As soon as you scratch the surface, you’ll see it’s all a thin veneer, a set piece hiding a lack of usability, functionality or even nutritional value. The prettified product may vastly outsell the more substantial, more usable, more functional, more nutritional alternative, but somehow people will not only not notice they’re being fooled, when their error becomes apparent they’ll pretend their decision was for the better. It’s like a cupcake reality distortion field.
I don’t readily have an alternative to the cupcake. I don’t have a design handy which alleviates the structural issues with said chow. No, I don’t have all the answers. Does that mean I shouldn’t be allowed to point out apparent problems? I criticise because I love. That’s how it’s always been. And even if The Cupcake Defence Brigade comes out in full force, it’ll still not change the fact that the cupcake is a fundamentally flawed design.
The donut, on the other hand, is an absolutely brilliant design. I wouldn’t be surprised if it follows the basic shape of the universe itself.