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What Drives Cupcake Popularity?

Jacob Goldstein has a post over at Planet Money about the IPO of a chain of stores called Crumbs Bake Shop. I'm familiar with Crumbs - they just opened a new store about a mile from my house. I ride past it every day on my way to work. I've never visited, but I understand that their primary business is selling gourmet cupcakes.

(from jaywood_uk on Flickr)

A few months ago, Goldstein wondered if cupcakes were in the midst of a soon-to-pop bubble. I commented on that post at the time. He's cautiously sticking to his guns, but pointing out that, even if he's right eventually, it doesn't mean the cupcake industry is going to crash and burn tomorrow.

I think what's really going on here (and I'm reluctant to use this term) is a dose of east-coast elitism. Cupcakes have been around in New York and DC for a long time. Long enough that plenty of people are completely sick of them; but that doesn't mean that the rest of America feels the same way.

From a business executive's perspective, all these places in the middle of America that haven't had cupcakes shoved down their throats are prime markets for growth. It seems entirely plausible that cupcake sales could continue to grow, possibly even for years, before the trend might even start to reverse.

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