Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cupcake Etiquette

Cupcakes. No longer just for children’s birthday parties, cupcakes are now used at weddings, charity events, and other formal dining situations. Cupcake shops and delicatessens are popping up throughout New York City, as the craze just seems to be gaining momentum! Aside from the fact that every diner can get the same ratio of frosting and cake (no longer a fight for the coveted end piece), cupcakes can soothe everyone’s taste buds, albeit chocolate, vanilla, lemon zest or red velvet! The best part is that people with allergies can enjoy a treat that doesn’t lack in shape, texture or flavor (cupcakes are one of the few foods in which the allergy-free versions taste the same!).

On that note, I will say that some people have recently asked if there is an appropriate way to eat the said cupcake. “What is proper cupcake etiquette?” Not to answer a question with a question, but are utensils available? If the answer is yes, a knife should be used to slice off "bite-size bites," which can then be carried to the mouth by hand. This will help reduce an overabundance of crumbs. It will also help provide an appropriate frosting/cake ratio. If a knife is unavailable, a fork or spoon can be used to “slice” the cupcake, but it is not necessary to eat it with a utensil.

If you do not have utensils because the affair is much less formal, and/or you are standing, it is appropriate to break off smaller pieces and place them into your mouth. Biting directly into the cupcake can cause frosting to appear all over your face, which will receive unwelcome snickering from those around you. And yes, I will try to hide a smile but will be laughing as well. Seriously, the secret to cupcakes is to avoid making a mess.

If you are 3 years old, you are probably licking the frosting off first (most kids don’t even bother with the cake part; they just head straight to the frosting). And when they have successfully licked the top off of one, without fail, they will ask for a second. Although it is great to allow children to be kids, our job as grownups is to provide them with the social skills. If they choose to continue licking off only the frosting, well, at least we taught them the right way. Perhaps if grownups provided children with utensils for their cupcakes at an early age, the shock of learning how to slice a “bite-size bite” would not seem so traumatic upon entrance to adulthood. That way, when they are 30 and at a business dinner, they will at least be able to recall the appropriate cupcake etiquette.

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