getting serious

Barbeau, William, Janet Johnson, Lisa Pong, and Daisy Stewart. “Evaluation of Alternative Fat and Sweetener Systems in Cupcakes.” Evaluation of Alternative Fat and Sweetener Systems in Cupcakes 68.5 (1991): 552-55. Web. 12 Apr. 2010.

The article compared and contrasted the fat content and variety of sweetening agents that are used to make cupcakes. Experiments were conducted comparing the use of shortening or sugar, and a sugar substitute. The end result concluded that depending upon which shortening is selected, will affect the heights and fluffiness of the finish product.  A big issue with the sugar substitute aspartame,  is that it leaves a bitter after taste in most foods. Due to the health conscious public demands, high quality and low calorie products that are low in fat and sugar are on the rise. The article continued to discuss how the use of different flavoring may add to the variety of the finish product and how certain artificial sweeteners will affect the gravity of the cupcake.

The popular bakery Babycakes, located in New York City, is known for their creations being made from refined sugar-free, gluten free, wheat free, soy free, casein free, egg free, and vegan. Does that make these little delights more appealing to some and not others?

Baumann, Shyon, and Josée Johnson. “Palatable Nationalism: A Study of American Cuisine through Gourmet Food Writing.” American Cuisine through Gourmet Food Writing 47.3 (2006): 391. Academic Press Inc. Web. 12 Apr. 2010.

This article discussed the sociological perspective on the food as a culture. Americans are very suggestible to television advertising and photographs that appear in magazines. The cooking network is another approach of suggesting new varieties of interesting dishes that may be prepared at home. Gourmet food develops into a case study based on qualitative quantitative data, as well as specifying the authenticity of certain foods. The authors uncover opposing viewpoints regarding the “cultural consumption” versus the taste and distinction within the mixed culture.

As I watched the news one evening, one of the stories had caught my attention. As I’m sure all of us have seen the venders on the streets of New York City, whether they are selling hot dogs, pretzels, ice cream, sodas, or even sandwiches. Standing strong in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Cakes and Shakes” is the newest addition to the vending cart family. These 100% organic treats vary in flavors, textures, and colors. What makes this new company so interesting is that they have the norms, including vanilla, red velvet, chocolate, etc as well as cupcakes that taste like ham and cheese, eggs, bacon, etc. Cakes and Shakes took the idea of cupcakes into a completely different direction. These treats are no longer eaten as dessert; rather, they have become the main course.

In order to conduct our research in the proper manner, Lila and I will search through popular magazine articles, food network videos, books, as well as conduct interviews with store owners, employees, and customers. We will visit BabyCakes, Crumbs, Sprinkles, Baked by Melissa, and Magnolias Bakery, to try and unwrap what makes these treats so enticing. Through photo elicitation, conducting live interviews, and comparative taste tests, we hope to understand why individuals decided to purchase this fun food, rather than make it themselves. We are interested in seeing if gender or ethnicity plays a role in the sales demographic.

We are interested in uncovering whether celebrities play a larger role in this new social phenomenon, than we’d like to admit. By researching photographs, cooking shows, recipes, and online videos, we hope to answer some of our questions. Through interviewing store owners, customers, bakers, and employees we hope to gain an insider scoop into this exciting new culture. All of our findings, photos, interviews and research will culminate into a conclusive final presentation on what “food culture” really means.

For this project, we will inform the seller of our study of cupcakes and ask permission if we could take pictures in the bakery shop stating that all information contained would be for class only. We understand that all sellers believe their work to be original, so we would give them credit by indicating their shop name and would be kept private and use it solely for the purpose of our project. We would also ask the consumers questions and opinions of why they like them? who do they think buys them? and etc. We would let them know that their opinions would be credited or kept anonymous depending on their preference.

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2 Responses to “getting serious”

  1.    amaru Says:

    Well I gotta hand it to you, it really sounds like you’re incredibly passionate about your topic. Sounds like you just can’t wait to get out there and start biting into and snapping photos of those popular little treats.

    That news story sounds funny, maybe eventually a company will make cupcakes like those jellybeans that taste like weird things. Imagine a Cupcake that tastes like Rust or Earwax, delicious!

    And about those different options now being offered for cupcakes (i.e. gluten free, vegan, etc), you’re going to have to try a vegan cupcake and tell us what it’s all about.
    Maybe one of those NYC based bakeries will see your research as an opportunity to reach out and give you a complementary assortment of vegan/refined sugar free cupcakes! Then the whole class wins!
    I doubt people will have a problem with you taking pictures in their bakeries; sounds like free publicity to me. Just don’t bring us any aspartame-filled cupcakes, I don’t really want any of that sweet poison..

    Here’s a thought: Beef flavored cupcakes for the curious vegetarian..

  2.    sarah kusnitz Says:

    I have met a lot people that are very particular about flavors of foods they like. They like one type of flavor of food and won’t try anything different. Perhaps if you meet any people in your research that only eat one type of cupcake it would be interesting to interview them and ask them why they don’t like to try variety, and even try and persuade them to try another.

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