Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Move over Pierogies - Cupcakes to be named official food of (New) Pittsburgh

Really.  Say goodbye to the Pittsburgh Pierogi..   and the unofficial mascot - the Primanti French Fry. In the future, it will all be about the cupcake.

No, really.

Ok, ok... just in honor of April 1, it is worth going back and remembering our great cupcake obsession here in Pittsburgh.  Yes, there was once a time BG20 (Before the G-20) that Pittsburgh was so desperate for positive economic stories that the faintest smell of cupcakes in town drove everyone into a state of near-rapture. It was so weird because it ran in the face of just what Pittsburgh was, the place which once set records for Ho-Ho consumption (though I pointed out the number reported was just to sweet to believe and was later corrected) and where the mere rumor of free-pies would set off public panics.

Think I'm misremembering our cupcake obsession?  I refer you to Mike who summarizes it all so much better: The Truthiness of the Cupcake Class. Yes, Mike and I were once seriously 'quoted' in the paper from blog postings attesting to our belief in the economic impact of cupcakes here. Only after the fact was the online version rewritten to reflect the satire that was dripping.

If that is not enough to explain what a big deal this was around town. This all inspired the great cupcake trifecta in the Post-Gazette. Again Mike: What's behind the bite-sized baked good boom.  My own contribution: Cupcake Econometrics 101 Every number in that is quite real by the way since I refuse to put fake data into record, April 1 or not. And then from cupcake aficionado Rachel Kramer Bussel: Why Cupcakes are Hot! The original title must itself have been too hot, since it now reads The Allure of Upscale Cupcakes.




Mike also had the epilogue asking all this long before me. Is Pittsburgh a post-cupcake city? Apres the cupcake: Pittsburgh's Deluge.

Few post-mortems on what happened to the cupcake establishments in town have been written, certainly a small fraction of the ink when they started up.  Most of the former dedicated cupcakeries are gone, but the local French bakery quotient seems to be skyrocketing.  I do need to update my regional benchmarking of bakeries per capita.

Never fear,... just a joke.  In fact, not only have we gotten over the cupcake obsession but there is a newfound appreciation for our food heritage.  Especially in food, the New(tech) Pittsburgh has met old in ways unimagined of a decade ago. I talk about things such as the Fish Fry App (and the Fish Fry Google Map) widely used during lent, but now there is the ever more useful throughout the year: PieroGIS; the Pittsburgh Pierogi map. And with the news of the ever shrinking Heinz in town here, the real Heinz heritage (think Pickles) may live on in new Pittsburgh-themed gourmet Pickels.

For those still reading.. still one of the funnier economic development stories to read long after the fact.  For all the success of new development in East Liberty and the East End (no longer referred to as Eastside??) the original plan to build the Whole Foods market on Centre Ave. was to have it paired with a Krispy Creme donuterie (are you reading out there @DanFitzWSJ?).  Such a Pittsburgh idea, not that it came to pass.

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