Cupcakes: Magnolia vs. Crumbs

Showdown:  Magnolia vs. Crumbs, which is the better cupcake?  I would say these are the two favorite and famous cupcakes of New York City.  My Magnolia story goes like this:  I first tried Magnolia way back when before it appeared on Sex and the City, and I didn’t try the cupcakes.  I liked the vanilla cake with pink buttercream frosting, and periodically, I’d go for a slice.  I also liked the banana pudding.  Now, I lived in North Carolina, so Magnolia didn’t excite me much, as I felt I could get authentic Southern desserts back in NC.  I thought it was just OK.  When Sex and the City mentioned Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, there was a line around the corner, and I never set foot in there again.  Until yesterday, when I bought cupcakes for a friend.  OK, I also got the vanilla with pink buttercream for myself.  Did I like it?  Yes.  Was it worth $2.75?  No.  It’s an average-sized homemade-like cupcake, and I still feel that I can get one in North Carolina made by a real Southern grandma, so why go here?  Granted, the cupcakes are fresh, as the turnover is constant.

Crumbs, on the other hand, is a big, fat cupcake worthy of a “gourmet cupcake” name.  There are surprises inside some of the cupcakes and the frosting is decorated with all kinds of neat things.  The red velvet is my favorite, as it seems to be everyone’s favorite.  The cupcakes at Crumbs are more dense, and there are more varieties, which ups the chances of getting a stale one, which I have.  If I were to get a cupcake for someone, I would choose Crumbs.  The presentation of a Crumbs cupcake is more exciting.  Does this mean I think it’s a superior cupcake to Magnolia? No, not really.  I just think it’s more fun and more worth the price of a gourmet cupcake.  In fact, although the cupcakes are very different, they are about the same, as they are both just cupcakes.  Now, I have had cupcakes that really wowed me like the red velvet at Sugarland in Chapel Hill, NC. 

There are three elements to a cupcake:  the cake, the frosting, and the presentation.  The cake has to be fresh, and often times at cupcake shops, it can be stale from lack of turnover.  The frosting has to be a good representative of whatever type of frosting, be it buttercream, cream cheese or chocolate.  Finally, it has to look good to justify why I am paying a high price for it.  For this showdown, I would say that Crumbs wins for taste and presentation with the caveat that there are better cupcakes out there still.

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