Cupcakes Were Never Over, Apparently
Magnolia Bakery is widely considered to be the instigator of America's obsession with cupcakes, sparked almost two decades ago when the Bleecker Street shop appeared on an episode of Sex and the City in 2000. Yet in the years since, cupcakes were eventually declared to be "over." In 2013, Business Insider published an article called "The Rise and Fall of Cupcake Business." In 2014, The Week declared "The Gourmet Cupcake Trend Is Officially Dead." To be fair, the market did sort of crash, with Crumbs Bakery closing 17 locations in 2013 and whimsical concoctions like the Cronut demanding attention.
Nevertheless, the cupcake persisted, clearly—Magnolia Bakery just announced a major national expansion.
The Wall Street Journal reported that 200 U.S. locations are currently in the works, which means that even more non-New Yorkers will get to experience the delight of a fresh, buttercream-frosted Magnolia cupcake, perhaps with much shorter lines. (The original Bleecker Street location still has lines around the block, even after all these years of cupcakes being "over.") Currently, Magnolia Bakery has nine locations in the U.S., with locations in Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles, and a handful internationally.
According to the WSJ, the company made $45 million in sales last year, which would seem to suggest that the cupcake biz is still a lucrative one. CEO Steve Abrams said that his hope was to be in America's 50 top markets, with at least three franchisees in each.
While the past few years have, indeed, been rough for many cupcake concepts, Abrams is confident that the Magnolia name will help carry them. And plus, Magnolia is much more than cupcakes, with desserts like icebox pies, cheesecakes, cookies, and banana puddings that have fierce followings, as well.
The strategy could work. Maybe American towns that didn't get inundated with cupcake-specific shops and cupcake ATMs will welcome the new stores with the same fervor New York welcomed Magnolia upon its 1996 opening.