By Tobi Schwartz-Cassell
At the end of a long day, I reward myself by plopping in front of the tube to binge watch Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. If you have cable or the internet, you have 24/7 access to the show.
I love watching how inventive the bakers get when told to create cupcakes with crazy combos like barbecued beef jerky, Cheez Whiz and Marshmallow Peeps.
I don’t like—but understand why—they give the bakers such a short time to complete their tasks. (I’m guessing the producers think all the panic and mayhem makes for “good TV.”) But if insufficient time is a problem, imagine having to figure out how to incorporate tilapia into a cupcake (no lie, that was really an ingredient on one of the episodes).
The show starts with four bakers. There are two elimination rounds and by the end, two remain to battle it out. The winner takes her or his cupcakes to some swanky event, like the celebration Mattel produced when they introduced Barbie’s new DreamHouse. The winner also gets $10,000 and I would assume, tons of PR for her or his business in her or his hometown print and digital newspapers.
The last round assigns a carpenter to each of the two finalists to come up with a party display, as well as a bunch of baker wannabes to help the finalists bake and decorate the 1,000 cupcakes. In the final minutes, everyone helps load them on to the huge display.
A winner is chosen, and the last two minutes of the show take place at the swanky party.
All lots of fun, but it leaves me wondering. What do they do with the loser’s 1,000 cupcakes?
I did a little online research, starting with the Food Network and Cooking Channel websites (Fun Fact: they are sister networks). But where I really got the scoop was on websites like HuffPost, mediamikes.com, and Natalie Slater’s bakeanddestroy.com. Slater was a judge on the pilot, and on her website’s FAQs, answers the question that, apparently I’m not the only one asking:
“My grandpa wanted to know what we did with all those cupcakes. The ones that didn’t go to the Alma Awards were eaten by the cast and crew. Yeah, that’s right. We ate them. We’re on a show called Cupcake Wars! We obviously enjoy eating cupcakes!”
Professional pastry chef Val Anne Hielte Welch was on FN’s Cake Challenge in 2010 and though she’s never been on Cupcake Wars, she does have some insight: “I can’t answer for certain, but the winner’s cake (on Cake Challenge) of course went to the person that it was for. The rest of the cakes (we came in second place) went right into giant trash cans. I was horrified by that because I hate to see perfectly good food wasted. I inquired why they couldn’t have been donated to a food bank or a homeless shelter, and they told me that liability issues prevent them from doing that.”
So what kinds of cupcakes do you like to bake? One of my BFFs makes German Chocolate cupcakes for me, using Mounds Bars. Seriously, I have no words. And that is highly unusual for me.
PS: So now that I’ve written my blog post about high calorie food, I’m going to promo our next event, set for Oct 18, and featuring Certified Clinical Hypnotist Katherine Nuyens. Ironically, after a 5-course meal at Illiano’s in Medford, all guests will choose one food they’d like to completely eliminate from their diet. Choose anything, sweet or savory. Oreos? Pasta? Candy cigarettes? Katherine will then put us into a light trance to make that happen.
And what will I choose to eliminate on Oct 18? You can bet it won’t be cupcakes.