When I grew up in the ‘70s, the cupcake was sort of a joke, a baked good with a serious identity crisis, unsure whether to be a muffin or a cake. When it made its rare appearance, it was typically doused with sickeningly sweet frosting that mostly acted as the glue for some ridiculous adornment – an Easter bunny, a shamrock, an American flag. The cupcake was a treat that only a child could endure, and even kids often gave them a pass, albeit after grabbing the adornment and licking off the frosting. No adult without an eating disorder would have touched one with a 10-foot pole. Boy has the cupcake changed.
The cupcake has become a culinary phenomenon – the baker’s equivalent of bacon, if you will. Sweet shops exclusively dedicated to the baking and selling of cupcakes are found in most towns in America. The Food Network airs shows about cupcakes. And here in Little Rhody, we even have a cupcake challenge.
On Sunday, March 10, RI Food Fights is hosting its 2nd Annual Great Cupcake Championship. RI Food Fights, through its founder Jim Nellis, engages local foodies in tasting competitions. Maybe you were lucky enough to attend their ice cream event last summer in Wayland Square? If so, you know their throw-downs are not to be missed. The Cupcake Championship, which is sadly sold out, will be held at Fete in Providence from 1-4pm. Twenty entrants will each bring 500 cupcakes for the lucky 900+ participants to sample and wash down with copious amounts of coffee, milk and soda, all generously donated by Fertile Underground Grocery, Yacht Club Soda and Monroe Dairy. The entrants come from all walks of food-life: restaurants, bakeries, cupcake shops and even a few people crazy enough to bake 500 cupcakes on their own. Prizes donated by Whole Foods, King Arthur Flour and Ahlers Designs will be awarded to first and second place winners, as well as the people’s choice winner.
Last year’s event was a huge success, especially for the Duck and Bunny, which took home the coveted title of “Best Cupcake in Rhode Island” for their Bunny Carrot Cupcake. This is not surprising news to me as I had a Meg Ryan When Harry Met Sally moment after trying their hot chocolate cupcake with a bacon-wrapped date chaser. It was over a year ago and I’m still fantasizing about it.
If you missed out on getting a ticket, may I suggest standing outside of Fete at 4:01pm to watch the parade of over-sugared, highly caffeinated adults searching desperately for something salty and thirst-quenching. Or better yet, join RI Food Fights for their next event on April 28, where the timeless, yet not-so-trendy donut will be paired up with its best friend, coffee, for a food fight certain to end with a big dose of plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Tickets can be purchased at www.rifoodfights.com.