When I arrived, people were bustling in and out of Sprinkles. The small cupcake shop in Newport Beach was surrounded by small, but empty shops. Everyone was there for cupcakes. I didn’t have to wait in line to enter the cupcake shop, but the newly opened Sprinkles ice cream shop next door had a line that was beginning to take over the sidewalk. I stepped inside the small cupcake shop and was greeted by a modern, chocolate brown decor. There was only enough room for the counter filled with heaven. There was a wide variety of fully stocked cupcakes, including fun flavors like smores. Each flavor had a distinct look that intrigued me as a customer. I could see the labels, and I could see the frosting, but I wondered what magic was inside. The Triple Cinnamon cupcakes had generous amounts of speckled frosting, but the cupcake liner hid what the cake looked like. The smores cupcakes, which I ended up buying one, had a toasted marshmallow frosting whipped on and I could only imagine what could be inside. Was there graham cracker chunks? Was it chocolate with marshmallow swirled in? The possibilities overwhelmed me and I just wanted to try them all.
Before I could order, I had to get some business done. When i was greeted by a cheery employee, I asked if I could ask her or the baker some questions. She had no issue with answering questions, so we went over to the side with another employee to get out of the way of constant customer traffic.
I had three major questions I wanted to ask about the cupcake trend. The first was “does Sprinkles spend more time on frosting or the cake?” They answered frosting. “The cake takes a long time to bake but the frosting is more tedious,” Lexi, one of the employees said.
The second question I asked was about the business. Sprinkles is well known across the country as being a big part of the cupcake trend. So I asked, “why do you think Sprinkles has become ‘the face’ of the cupcake trend?” The employees weren’t really sure and didn’t have a concrete answer. They kind of awkwardly looked at each other for help, but then just decided to answer. They said it was probably because it was one of the first gourmet cupcake shops established at the beginning of the cupcake trend. They also said advertisement was huge. The owners have been successful at getting the Sprinkles name out and about, and the fact that the owners have been on Cupcake Wars means that people have seen them on television.
My third question was more a general question. I wanted to know why people want to buy gourmet cupcakes over store bought, even though they are more expensive. Both employees commented that the quality is just better. “I’ve heard people say that store bought cupcakes are more dry. And that the frosting doesn’t taste like it should. Like cream cheese frosting doesn’t really taste like cream cheese,” Lexi noted. “It’s just better quality. People are willing to pay $3.50 for one cupcake instead of $3.50 for an entire box of store bought cupcakes because our cupcakes are better. I think it comes down to quality over quantity.”
After they answered my three questions, I thanked them and then ordered my cupcake. They were still extremely friendly and helpful; as I was paying for my cupcake the cashier was giving me tips on how to make my cupcake better. “You got the smores one? That one is so good. If you stick it in the microwave, the chocolate ganache in the middle will melt. It’s so delicious.” It was obvious that these employees weren’t just doing their jobs, they actually cared about cupcakes.
When I got out of the shop, I sat an outdoor table and opened my Sprinkles bag. Inside was my smores cupcake. I took it out, and when I grazed the frosting the marshmallow stuck to me. I licked my finger, savoring the toasted marshmallow whip. The cake was chocolate with a small layer of graham cracker crumbles at the bottom. And, like the cashier said, there was a chocolate ganache in the center to top it off. With a balance of graham cracker, chocolate and toasted marshmallow, it took me back to all the times I’ve hung out around a campfire roasting marshmallows trying to create perfect smores. Who knew I could just visit Sprinkles for my perfected smore.