Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Scandalously Sweet

I love a good scandal as much as the next guy: Watergate, Nannygate, Travelgate, and even Weinergate was good for a few yucks last year. But Cupcakegate? Have you heard about this one? Yeah, it seems that a woman named Rebecca Hains ran afoul of the Transportation Security Administration's 3-1-1 carry-on rule with a cupcake on a flight from Las Vegas last month. Now before you jump to any conclusions about TSA overreach, it should be pointed out that the cupcake in question was jammed inside a glass mason jar. And while that still may not be sufficient to arouse safety concerns for carry-on items, it's weird, right? I mean, who puts a cupcake in a jar?

Apparently Wicked Good Cupcakes in Cohasset, MA, does. They mail-order cupcakes all over the country, and the mason jar is their gimmick, and delivery container. Being a bit of a cupcake purist - call me a snob if you will - I am not sure this really counts as a cupcake. In my book, a cupcake has a wrapper on it, and you eat it with your hands. I mean, aren't these the defining characteristics of a cupcake? Don't get me wrong, I'd totally eat one out of a jar, but is it really a cupcake anymore? What if you jam a taco into a coffee mug: is it still a taco, or just a mess?

Anyway, everyone seems to love cupcakes, and maybe that is why you have noticed cupcake shops popping up all around the country, especially in metro areas. Now this is not a new phenomenon. The "cupcake craze" seems to have started with an episode of Sex and the City that featured New York's Magnolia Bakery over a decade ago. Lots of places were selling cupcakes prior to that, of course. But shops that sell only cupcakes seem to have exploded ever since. I've seen them in New York, Seattle, D.C., Vegas, San Francisco, Orlando, and a ton of other places that I have rented timeshares. But surely these can't last (cupcake shops, not timeshares), can they? I mean they're cupcakes. Sure everyone loves them, and they have a wonderful nostalgic quality about them. But so do hot dogs and transistor radios. Are soda fountains and barbershops next? I hope so, but I am not holding my breathe.

But so long as the tide is still rising, you will always get folks pushing the limits. Example? How about a BLT cupcake from More Cupcakes in Chicago? Maybe beer is more your thing? Then you're gonna want to try the Guinness cupcake from The Atlanta Cupcake Factory in Georgia. But the one that really called out to me was the chocolate-covered potato chip cupcake from Over the Rainbow Cupcakes in Palm Springs, CA. I mean wow, talk about decadent. What could improve a cupcake more than chocolate and potato chips? Well bacon I suppose, but really, this thing is amazing. Now I know what you're thinking: did he really travel all the way to Palm Springs for a cupcake? The answer to that question would be yes. And no.

Palm Springs (the place with all of those wind turbines) is a fantastic travel destinations, and if you have a kajillion dollars, I imagine a wonderful place to live. Despite the tropical sounding name, Palm Springs is actually a desert city. It enjoys over 350 days of sunshine a year, and less than 4 inches of rain annually. Sort of like the Anti-Seattle. In the 1920s, the recently minted Hollywood movie stars found a retreat from the fans and media in the hot, dry climate of the village of Palm Springs. These days it is home to over 40,000 people, and growing. It is also famous for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway: the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world (don't miss this); the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens: the only U.S. zoo and botanic garden dedicated to the deserts of the world; the beautiful San Jacinto Mountains: home to the Pacific Crest Trail; and of course timeshare resorts. I chose a rental at Palm Canyon Resort and Spa, which features 240 villas, all with kitchens, decks, spa tubs, designer furniture, and more. Out by the pool area there's a 20-foot-high rockscape complete with palm trees, waterslides, waterfalls, underground walkways, and a spa. No wonder it get 4 stars from RedWeek members.
Well, I am off to the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies. It's a dance and musical review show that plays at the historic Plaza Theatre in downtown, featuring performers ranging in age from 56 to 86. Think A Chorus Line meets Golden Girls. They pack the house for ten shows a week and are redefining the relationship between old age and the performing arts. I just hope they don't have any TSA-style ushers, because I've got like $40 worth of chocolate-covered potato chip cupcakes stuffed in my pants.

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