Last year, if you wanted to buy an overpriced, quaintly decorated cupcake, you had to drive downtown. Two cupcake stores, Gigi’s Capcakes and The Cupcake Shoppe are located within minutes of each other, one on Oberlin Road and the other on Glenwood, respectively. Easily accessible for the richer “inside the Beltline” types of people, both stores are decorated eloquently with Gigi’s prominently pink and green and The Cupcake Shoppe warmer colors of a dusty rose and brown. Both stores are aimed at the same type of consumer who doesn’t mind spending a little money on a sweet treat. A consumer like, well, me.
I tried The Cupcake Shoppe first. After circling the area several times looking for an elusive parking spot, I entered the store slightly disgruntled. I was off to a bad start. I entered and was greeted by soft lighting and a warm, cheery interior. Approaching the case of cupcakes, I read flavor types such as the “Plain Jane,” “Simply Cinnamon,” and “Brown Betty.” They had a “beauty of simplicity” air about them, with no menial sprinkles or decoration, just the cupcake and a perfect swirl of icing on top. I chose simply cinnamon, craving a cupcake different than my usual chocolaty selection. With one bite, all my parking woes were forgotten — I was in heaven. I am not a big icing person and although the cupcake was topped with a generous dollop of cinnamon cream cheese icing, the combination of cake and icing tasted so delicious that the ratio was quickly forgiven. The shoppe offered a convenient jug of water self service style, and after washing the cupcake down and disposing of my trash, I exited the store in a much better mood than I entered. Only a truly decadent cupcake could achieve such a feat.
Gigi’s had a lot to live up to.
A few weeks later, I learned that Gigi’s opened a store in Brier Creek, which is a mere 15 minute drive from my house. Excited to appease my new found fascination with cupcakes, I decided to try this second store out. In contrast, this store was located in an easily accessible shopping mall with ample parking. I optimistically walked into the store, excited for another cupcake munching opportunity. This store was brightly lit, with pink and green walls and large pictures of women and children decorating cupcakes in matching aprons. My skepticism started to set in. I approached the cupcake case this time and saw cupcakes decorated with ample amount of sprinkles, cherries, nuts and even bacon. I purchased the “Midnight Magic.” This chocolate cupcake, in the least, was a disappointment. As I stated before, I am not an icing person, and the cake to icing ratio on this was about 1:2– completely unsatisfactory. I resorted to scraping off half the mound of icing in order to choke down the rest of the cupcake, which was dry. I left the store dismayed wishing the Cupcake Shoppe had opened a closer location instead.
Both stores charge a flat rate of 3 dollars per cupcake, which, admittedly, is probably about a 2 dollar and 75 cent profit for the store.
There is more to a cupcake than a conveniently sized miniature cake– the taste matters more than the decoration. This applies to more than just cupcakes: it’s not about the look, it’s about what’s inside. Funny how something so simple can symbolize something so grand. Maybe that’s why I love cupcakes so much.