August 28, 2022

By Arthur H. Gunther III

     There are in this life moments when you need a cupcake. Down day, low energy or maybe you just want to celebrate breathing. Back in the day, my father, who did the grocery shopping in a two-worker family, usually bought a weekly supply of Ann Page delights from the A&P, or, occasionally, the full deal from Tancos Bake Shop.

     It was with mouth watering and visions of those old cupcakes that I recently headed for a local place offering the 2022 version of chocolate with white icing. Not sure if the top was buttercream, as it once was, but the bottom was round as a cupcake is supposed to be. Otherwise, it was difficult to recognize.

     The cupcake was half the size of an Ann Page or Tancos variety, shrunk by the ravages of inflation though the cost was $3.50, a lot more than the 10-15 cents back when I was young. Traditionally, cupcakes are teacup sized, hence the name.  

     The initial savoring of my downsized version was the same as in my youth despite shrinkage and topping. Fresh, satisfying in the moment, but just not a long-enough moment. I wasn’t going to fork over another $3.50 to bring myself back to halcyon days of yore when cupcakes were full-size, so in the end I was left unfulfilled. You should have time to think over your cupcake. 

     These are difficult days for the world – war, viruses, failed politics, climate change, greed. There aren’t enough cupcakes for all in the moment, and the truth is that in good times and bad, too many have never had the pleasure of adequate food, let alone dessert, given continuing world poverty.

     American politicians in the 1920s used to promise a “chicken in every pot.” Maybe they should have required standards for cupcake dimensions that would never change. And the Federal Reserve should have moved against the delight’s inflation.

     Who knows? A cupcake a day, full size, might just be an antidote to it all.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman.