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WSJ reviews mail order cupcake companies

Mail Order Cupcakes

There is nothing better than a batch of homemade cupcakes, but a dozen or so from a favorite bakery can come in at a close second – and can actually take the first place spot for those who don’t bake. Cupcake shops are still more popular than ever (especially here in LA), but that doesn’t mean that you can find one as easily as you might find a Starbucks. The Wall Street Journal’s Cranky Consumer column, which rates mail-order products, took on the oh-so-difficult task of taste-testing a variety of mail order cupcakes that promise to deliver a gourmet bakery-quality cupcake to your door.

They compared cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake, Dean & Deluca and Godiva, all of which came via overnight shopping with cupcakes frozen for freshness, as well as cupcakes from Crumbs, a bakery which had a nearby NYC location and was able to deliver locally(although they ship overnight, as well). They compared these cakes to a batch of cupcakes made with a cake mix and looked for both flavor and freshness in the finished cake.

Dean & Deluca’s cupcakes were good, but a little on the dry side. Godiva’s cupcakes were rich and brownie-like, but were closer to being brownies than cupcakes. Their packaging was elaborate, while D&D’s had been simple. The Crumbs cupcakes were delivered fresh, unlike the others, but put some testers off by going way over the top with frosting and toppings. The Georgetown Cupcake cupcakes were the tastiest of the bunch, but still a little over-the-top with the icing-to-cake ratio. Georgetown won the taste test hands down, though, with cupcakes that looked and tasted good.

The biggest downside to ordering gourmet cupcakes is the price: the cheapest, from Georgetown Cupcake turned out to be $4.58 per cucpake and the most expensive, from Godiva, were $9.35 per cupcake! That really makes the cake mix, at $2.99 per box, or a batch of from-scratch cupcakes look like a good deal. What makes them an even better deal is that the taste testers said that the cake mix cupcakes might have won the taste test if they hadn’t been overbaked by the staff member who made them.

I can’t say that putting overbaked cake-mix cupcakes against gourmet bakery cakes is a very fair comparison, but since the cake mix cakes came out with good reviews (although some didn’t like the box flavor), I suppose that it worked out in the end. It is pretty clear that going out to a local bakery is the best way to get bakery-fresh cupcakes with only a slightly inflated price tag. This little test also demonstrates that it is a better idea – both in terms of price and freshness – to bake cupcakes yourself instead of having them delivered.

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9 Comments
  • Alli
    February 19, 2010

    Mmm…cupcakes! I have to admit, I am obsessed with cupcake bakeries. We only recently got one here in San Diego, but their options are pretty limited when compared to, say, Sprinkles. A friend from LA once brought a box of a dozen cupcakes from Sprinkles to me and my roommate at the time, and between the two of us, we demolished them in one afternoon. What I love the most about cupcakes from specialty bakeries (as opposed to box mixes)are the creative flavor combinations and how pretty they look. I have to agree that they are expensive, though. I’ve recently started experimenting with my own flavor combinations and decorating techniques though, largely thanks to your blog. By the way, I made a batch of your oreo cupcakes the other month, and my co-workers LOVED them!

  • Alli
    February 19, 2010

    Oh yeah, I meant to ask but I forgot: Do you have a favorite cupcake bakery in L.A.?

  • Stacy
    February 19, 2010

    I never love bakery cupcakes…. I personally have either found the cupcakes to be dry, tasteless, or both. And, as you mentioned, there is usually some insane icing concoction on top to try to make up for it. Of course, the kids don’t ever mind, but cupcake-loving adults sure do!

    I hate to say it, being a New Yorker, but as good as Magnolia Bakery cupcakes are… still, I’ve had homemade from scratch that beat even those. (Mine, of course, but others as well!!)

  • Nicole
    February 19, 2010

    Alli – No, I actually don’t. I usually make my own cupcakes! I have had some pretty good cupcakes at Yummy Cupcakes, in Santa Monica before, and I liked Leda’s Cupcakes in Sherman Oaks pretty well before they closed.

  • Stephanie Manley
    February 20, 2010

    I have wondered who well those turn out, ordering cup cakes from mail order companies. I personally, would prefer to prepare my own cupcakes, using a recipe that I really enjoy. At 9.50 a cupcake, I am likely to prepare my own cupcakes for a long while.

  • EZSweet
    February 21, 2010

    these cupcakes look yummy!

  • seo services
    February 22, 2010

    many times I tried to make cupcakes my own but I never succeed. After making I have ordered for them

  • Friday
    February 22, 2010

    I’ll have red velvet please.

  • I’m getting hungry. But a cupcake is around 15 points. That’s more than half my day allotment.

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