The Rise (and Fall?) of the Cupcake

Rachel Tepper Paley
July 8, 2014

(Click for bigger image.) Illustration credit: Jennifer Fox

Monday may have been a sad day for cupcake obsessives the nation over. After more than a decade in business, Crumbs Bake Shop, the “largest chain to come out of the cupcake wars,” according to trend chronicler David Sax, will close all 48 of its stores, from sea to cupcake-eating sea.

How did we get here? Although the first mention of cupcakes can be traced to Amelia Simmons’s 1796 cookbook “American Cookery”—”a light cake to bake in small cups,” the tome reads—it wasn’t until 1997 that scores of cupcake lovers began queuing in front of the now-famous Magnolia Bakery in New York City.

Here’s a look at the trend’s ups and downs, from reality shows to cupcake ATMs. (And yes, according to Sax, the lines truly did start forming outside Magnolia before Carrie & Co.) 

Is Crumbs’s downfall a sign that the cupcake is truly on its way out? We’ll leave that for you to decide.