As a nation, last year we bought 110 million cupcakes. That’s nearly 2 each for every single member of the population. And that stat doesn’t include all the cupcakes we whipped up at home – probably considerably more than that, given that 58% of us tried baking in 2012, a 27% increase from 2011.
I’ve just done a Google search for ‘cupcakes UK’ – it turned up over 46 million results. So what exactly is this national obsession all about?
Cupcakes have become a symbol of hope amidst a backdrop of economic misery. Where once hemlines were an indicator of financial prosperity (or otherwise), the humble cupcake flies the flag for affordable luxury. This bite-sized confection provides a comfort-food distraction from the economic rollercoaster (quadruple dip, anyone?)
Cupcakes are also emblematic of the rise of the small food producer. Start-up cake-making businesses have doubled in a year and sales of bakeware and ingredients have also shot up. Baking is becoming synonymous with the ‘make, do and mend’ psyche of a frugal modern Britain.
TV execs aided the cupcake’s rise to iconic status. The launch of The Great British Bake Off in August 2010 fuelled our national obsession. A whopping 7 million viewers tuned in to watch the amateur bake-off at its peak. To contextualise it, that’s more than Eastenders gets these days.
It’s not just our taste-buds cupcakes are tickling. Their uplifting visual effects are being felt outside the food arena. You can buy cupcake wallpaper, duvet covers, cushions and notepads, but to name a few. The humble cupcake has its own range of licensed product – surely the ultimate sign of celebrity?