Quite frankly, I never (notice the use of an absolute?) paid attention to how folks ate their cupcake. Because of my selfish and self-centered nature, I figured "all cupcake eating is the same." I couldn't have been more wrong. Seriously.
As I began to take notice, it was abundantly clear that eating a cupcake is an individual event and not a team sport. Style, grace, athleticism and timing can be a factor in the successful consumption of a beautiful little cake and a tower of buttercream.
I have identified three categories regarding consumption of cupcakes and a binary position regarding the cupcake paper liner and cupcake topper:
- Buttercream First
- Cake First
- Cupcake Liner
- Edible Cupcake Topper
This sub-set is a population that attacks the buttercream, generally from the top down. There is the licking buttercream with the eater's tongue (nope, not taking pictures of that- figure it out yourself). Observing this technique doesn't score many style points but there is something to say about drawing out the process of eating the entire cake. Some might refer to this approach as the Lollipop Style.
The chomping down on the buttercream is another procedure of buttercream first. Typically, the frosting is gone completely or down to a thin layer in three chomps or less. For consumers wishing to have that buttercream rush - this is the preferred method. Leaving just a wee bit of frosting on the cake insures icing with each cake bite. This does not qualify as a combination styles since the eating process begins with an intention to reduce the buttercream.
The cupcake topper as buttercream delivery vehicle. A very nice and ingenious approach to buttercream. The right cupcake topper can maximize this effort, e.g. Animal Crackers, Oreos, chocolate covered pretzels, little fondant cut outs, etc. It's most effective when the topper is flat and not spherical, such as the malted milk ball, Reese peanut butter cup, etc. This style is reminiscent of chips and dip - a skill set that works well across several mediums. Variation: Tear off the bottom of a cupcake and use it to scoop the buttercream.
The classic finger-as-frosting-scoop was certainly first seen shortly after that first bowl of buttercream. I've seen this many times and even claim some as family members. Interestingly, I recently observed this approach when visiting a friend - she was all curled up and cozy on her sofa. We just chatted away while she deftly timed her part of the conversation between scoops of buttercream. It was genius. I have also seen this technique on the run, waiting for a bus, and while taking in a lecture. Warning: this style is quite messy and requires immediate clean-up.
A less oft used method requires the cupcake to be refrigerated until the buttercream can be independently and wholly lifted from the cupcake. Holding the cupcake in one hand and the buttercream swirl in the other - the consumer can alternate bites: cake, then frosting, then cake, etc. Clearly such an approach demands great balance and practice.
I didn't think it was possible, until I witnessed it for myself. It was pretty much a 'Wow' moment for me. Hold cupcake up, tilt head back, eat the cake up to the top rim, bring buttercream and head to neutral position - pop entire frosting swirl into mouth (use your imagination for this visual). All at once. Grin really big for sticking the landing. Caution: Watching for eyes glazing over from the sugar rush.
What about the cupcake sandwich? Several friends ascribe to this practice: Remove lower half of cupcake, place by smooshing on top of buttercream, consume. Each bite theoretically has cake and icing. At first glance, this purposeful destruction of the buttercream swirl is painful to even consider. For real. At the same time, the point is total consumption. From the "whatever it takes" department, I will let any ill feelings go. Note to self: Call my sponsor.
What the fork!? Yes. A fork and plate. This drastically reduces messy hands and ups the cake/buttercream-in-each-bite likelihood. I observed one cupcake consumer break apart the cupcake topper and include it in several bites; that is only possible with this practice. If there happens to be a surprise center in the cupcake, it too can be spread out across several bites with the fork. Downside: Dirty dishes. Upside: Each bite is individually designed in the moment.
Do you remove it completely prior to the first bite? Do you open up the liner partway and put off holding the actual cake? Is the wrapper removed 100% immediately to avoid this delaying tactic later on in the eating process?
This is a binary position: all off or not all off prior to first nip, nibble, lick, chomp, bite, or inhalation.
Edible Cupcake Topper
When possible, I prefer using an edible cupcake topper - this reduces the amount of trash inherently produced by cupcakes. There is the school of thought to simply pop the topper in as the first bite (much like consuming the bunny ears on the Easter chocolate) or saving it for the last bite.
Saving the berry/candy/nut requires a place to put the topper, especially when the cupcake requires the consumer to keep his or her hands on the wheel at all times or when engaged in the finger-as-buttercream-scoop method. The cupcake topper-as-scoop technique offers a natural mid-point consumption opportunity. Anecdotally, I most often witness the topper as first bite - but this is not exclusive.
I usually don't have so much text on a post. And this topic is interesting to my inner social psychologist.
We hired some school friends (and a little brother) to sit in as cupcake models. No cupcakes were harmed in the making of these snapshots.
Time for a meeting.