Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cupcake Conversations

I've been spending my time opening up a new cupcake store in Union Square, New York City and have been pretty focused on that and not writing. Next week I am opening up the flagship store on Madison Ave and 53rd street, right across from Cartier. Fancy Pants location for sure! A girlfriend asked me asking where the hell I'd been lately all I could say was, "Up to my elbows in cupcakes!" Literally.

In the failing economy, people take comfort in food and alcohol so business is booming. The flow of business is much like a stream that ebbs and flows busy for a little bit and then slow for a bit which makes for easy preparation for the next busy time. During this quiet time there is plenty to do such as restocking cupcakes, brewing coffee, or taking a break to taste the latest cupcake specials. It is during these times that the inevitable calorie discussion begin.

"How many calories you think this one's got?" 20 year old Mike from the Bronx asks in his thick accent. Gold chains layered around his neck dangling above the Red Velvet treat and his frayed skull-n-crossbones baseball cap is studded with rhinestones. I pray the subway dirt doesn't fall into the cupcakes

"Oh, that one's an easy 1250." Kate replies. She's a button-downed, clean-cut preppy-type girl in her late teens and training to open the new Stanford, CT. store next week.

"1250 NOTHING!" Mike says. "Girl, you off! That baby's gotta be 2K!" Mike is confident of his cupcake calorie guess and is passionate about winning any discussion.

Why are these kids discussing a calorie count of a cupcake?

On July 1st in New York City, a new law went into effect requiring all foods service establishments with 15 outlets or more that serve standardized portions (i.e.: McDonald's, Starbucks, Wendy's etc...) must provide the consumer with the caloric content of each item, in the same sized typeset as the menu items for the consumer so they can make an educated choice and perhaps a healthier selection. This law was passed on the coat-tails of the zero trans-fats allowed law which people are still upset about. God bless the people who can't live without Crisco for a day!

The company I am working for is small (8 stores today) and rapidly expanding in New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey, and soon Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle and pretty much anywhere there is a hungry cupcake consumer. With continued expansion in NYC, the caloric count will be mandatory because the law is based on total number of outlets not just the outlets in the city. So they will be required to post on each sign the name of the cupcake and the caloric count.

These cupcakes are the size of a big man's fist! One bite into it and my teeth start to hurt from the intense sugar-shock! And it is fascinating to watch people shove them into their pie-hole without a second thought and then quickly order a second or third.

So the stand-around conversations are kind of like the "What time do you think it is?" game. That is a game where no one is allowed a watch or clock and you try to guess the exact time (using Price is Right rules of course...whoever guess is closest to the actual time without going over wins!) But in the "Guess the Time" game you have a chance of verifying answer. The time game strategy is all about mind-fucking your opponent by trying to out-psyche their guess. I am brilliant at this part of the game and Karen can attest to that. There have been many times when she's been right on the money but my questioning of her final answer and planting seeds of doubt are masterful. No one can deny that I love a good game and am quite competitive. Let's just call that a Leo thing.

The caloric count game is pure speculation. My original guesses began at 1500 calories a cupcake. I settled on this number after looking at the calorie counts of muffins for sale at Starbucks which are much smaller than the products we sell and average 400-600 calories each. Yikes! A breakfast treat with NO protein or any sustainable energy for 600 calories? NO THANK YOU! Before moving to New York, I regularly spoiled myself with a slice of Starbuck's lemon pound cake as a treat until I discovered that it too was close to 700 calories...and not all that satisfying. It was easy to release this habit.

NOTE: I do like this law because they have to list the calories on all the beverages that Starbucks sells too, which I think is a very good idea.

So now I am moving my cupcake guess closer to 2000 calories. The frosting is packed with sugar, butter and cream cheese not to mention the cake ingredients. Oh golly! I can hardly wait until the numbers are released.

But until that day, I say go ahead...have your cupcake and eat it too. The bliss in ignorance is Utopian. All will be revealed soon enough.

So much love,
All the way from the diabetes clinic,

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Things I love

I love sunny days in Autumn witnessing the emerald leaves transform to ruby reds and shimmering gold. I love the first deep breath once stepping into the chilly outdoors before embarking on a long walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. And the awe inspiring views of bustling city-life happening all around, feeling connected to strangers, doing their best to live another busy day on planet earth.

So much love,
All the way from....

over here