The Secret Ingredient by Gigi Butler & Bud Schaetzle

The Secret Ingredient by Gigi Butler & Bud Schaetzle

Author:Gigi Butler & Bud Schaetzle
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Howard Books

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I decided I wanted to create cupcakes like no one had ever seen or tasted. I wanted to infuse them with qualities that would prove irresistible. I wanted them to be little works of art, small-scale celebrations that would excite people and, in a way, make them feel as if they were part of something special. I wanted each cupcake to provide a few moments of happiness.

I was developing a mission statement of sorts: I wanted people to get more than just a delicious cupcake—I wanted them to have a real sensory experience. I wanted them to taste my orange cupcake recipe and be transported back in time to a summer day in their childhood, to relive the joy of peeling the wrapper off an orange push-pop from an ice cream truck. I didn’t just want to fill their mouths with regular old lemon-flavored cake; I wanted to jolt their taste buds to life with the unmistakable, electric zing of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Chocolate that made them swoon, red velvet that melted on their tongues, strawberries that tasted like they had been picked that very morning—that was what I was after. I knew my recipes would make or break me, and I was confident I could compete on that level.

Everything else was a mystery that needed to be solved. What did the boutique cupcake business really look like? Who was out there—and what were they doing? Could I find a niche that I could call my own? What kind of cupcakery could I realistically create? More important, what would I have to do to get people to show up?

There were only a few real players out there, and they all had interesting origin stories. I read up on them with a mixture of admiration and envy, realizing that I wasn’t the first person who’d dreamed this particular dream. But the more I studied, the more I realized there was an opening—there was always plenty of room for something unique.

My brother had visited Magnolia Bakery in New York’s West Village, and it had really been the industry’s major trailblazer. Its original founders, Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey, are rightfully credited with starting the trend of gourmet cupcakes shortly after the shop opened in 1996. Magnolia was a traditional upscale bakery when Appel and Torey started using their leftover cake mix to create dazzling cupcakes. Their regular customers flipped, and word of mouth spread. Then the shop was featured on HBO’s Sex and the City. It became everybody’s favorite sweet spot and ignited the cupcake boom in New York City. Soon there were lines around the block and opportunities to expand. Appel and Torey sold their interests in the company in the mid-2000s, but Magnolia continued to prosper, eventually operating about twenty stores, including branches in the Middle East, Asia, and Central America. I really admired what they built and how they branded it.

Out west, Sprinkles opened its sleek, hipster flagship store in 2005 on Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills.


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