Georgetown Cupcakes, home of the show “DC Cupcakes”, just broke the world record making the world’s largest cupcake. TLC aired an hour-long special about it last week. This is not a review on how I feel about the show, although I rarely watch it because it drives me up the wall (and this special was no exception), but I tuned in about 1/2 way thru because I caught wind that for 24 hours after that episode was aired, there was a promo code to get 40% off cupcakes, and they ship all over the US. With the promo code, shipping was practically free. W00t! I have no plans of ever being in the vicinity of Georgetown Cupcakes’ storefront and I’m a sucker for sales, so I figured, what the hell? I’ve blown $33 bucks on much stupider stuff, might as well order some.
But honestly, I was major curious how they ship. I mean yeah, I wanted to taste their cupcakes but I REALLY wanted to see how they do their packaging, because as any professional baker will tell you, figuring out perfect packaging is like searching for the Lost Ark, and just when you think you have it all figured out you see a competitor come up with something way cool. But also, there is lots of misinformation in the cake world about what you really need in order to ship baked goods. I’ve read people say you need special kitchens, special permits, special nutritional labels, and pay special interstate taxes. I’ve never found any documentation to back this up and the owners of my commercial kitchen says you don’t need any of that, but I figured, if there WAS something special, famed Georgetown Cupcakes would most certainly have it.
They ship via Federal Express overnight, and here is breakdown of what I got:
The Outer Box
The main box reminded me of a large folding shoebox made of super heavy cardboard. It is super-branded, covered in pink with Georgetown Cupcakes’ signature black design pattern covering the entire box. NO mistake of what’s in it and where it came from. The only label on this box is the Fedex sticker.
Open the box and you see this – a padded Mylar envelope that is mostly sealed. There is a card (tucked into the top of the envelope) that explains that the cupcakes were baked the prior day, shipped frozen, and to leave them out for 3 hours to defrost. It had no nutritional info nor did it have an ingredients label, but did have the standard “food allergy” warning. I don’t think that is a legal requirement, I think it’s done for liability purposes (but I could be wrong).
Inside the Envelope
Another box with this single ice pack. Not dry ice, but a simple cheap gel coolant pack. (reusable!)
The Inner Box
A better photo of the inner box, made of the same super-thick cardboard as the outer box. Other then the logo on top, there is no other label on it.
Finally, cupcakes in sight!
Now we finally see some cupcakes, 12 of them in a super thick, plastic clamshell container. I ordered a variety pack and pretty much chose at random.
Inside the Clamshell (from top left to right): Strawberry, red velvet, lemon berry, carrot, toasted marshmallow fudge, salted caramel, milk chocolate birthday, chocolate2, chocolate salted caramel, toffee crunch, vanilla, and lemon blossom
As if the packaging wasn’t enough, they have lollypop sticks inserted in each cupcake, I assume to keep them from hitting the top of the clamshell if the box is dropped or something. I don;t see how that could have effected anything because these girls were frozen solid when I opened this box.
My over-all impression: I know cake is fragile, but it’s not THAT fragile. The San Francisco hippie in me shakes my head at the waist of paper and resources that went into all this packaging. Is it necessary? Could they reduce some of it? I think so. I mean, these aren’t Faberge eggs, they’re cupcakes for crying out loud!
Oh, how did we like them, you may be asking?
Just to clarify, I got these to examine the packaging and to taste something that I normally wouldn’t, but the plan never was for my husband and I to actually eat these. Please understand, I have cake available 24/7, so it’s not very often that we would eat, say, a whole one of MY cupcakes, let alone a whole dozen of Georgetown Cupcakes. This is a pic of them today right before they go out to the trash to give you an idea of what we liked. I believe these are the exact cupcakes that people wait in massive lines for and that nothing in flavor or texture was lost due to shipping. Hubbie liked the cream cheese frosting so that’s why you see the frosting missing off one, but honestly this just isn’t our type of cake… it’s too sweet for us. But comparing these to say, SusieCakes or other cupcakes of the same fame that I’ve had, these are good, and I appreciate their price point (as opposed to SusieCakes, $3.00 for failed scratch cake with fake frosting from a can. A can! But hey, I guess it IS pretty genius to fill a failed sunken cupcake with frosting, turn it into a marketing ploy and call them “frosting filled!”). Anyway, I really felt these Georgetown Cupcakes are priced appropriately and even though we didn’t eat all of them, I felt I got my money’s worth.
Gotta Try: Toffee Crunch. I swiped just frosting. Meh. I nibbled just cake. Meh. I took a bite putting it all together, and it was the tastiest of the bunch. The flavors really worked well with each other. 2nd runner up was the Carrot cake. Kind of a mystery to me, it seemed like a butter cake when most carrot cakes are oil-based. Makes me want to experiment. And with the cream cheese frosting (that hubbie ate all of), it was good.
Pass on: Both salted caramels. I know these are “fad” flavors, but if you are going to call something “salted caramel”, I want to taste salt AND caramel, and the chocolate needs to be rich and dark to work.
Completely gross: Both lemon flavors. 100% artificial flavor. They top them with those fake gummy lemons and manage to make the entire cupcake taste like it. Complete mystery how they do it, but one I’m not willing to try and figure out. Also, if I would have known they added so much pink food color to the frosting of the lemon berry cupcake, I never would have ordered it. Bleach.
So there you go!
Have you had Georgetown Cupcakes? What’s your favorite flavor? Post a comment!
UPDATE 5/27/13: I’m not sure which blog/website/Facebook etc has started to send traffic to this post, so thank you. But guess what? Crappy comments about how wasteful I am won’t be approved for public view and I have a little button called “delete” as soon as you try and post one, just so you know, in case you want to save yourself some time being petty, mean and douchbag-y. Seriously, if me tossing this box of cupcakes was so offensive to you, guess what? I throw food away every single day. In fact, tons of perfectly good food is tossed in the US every day just because it isn’t pretty enough for you to buy it. And just so you know, because some of you seem to be completely clueless, homeless shelters are NOT going to happily accept a 1/2 eaten box of cupcakes. They won’t even take a NEW box of cupcakes. If you’ve ever actually tried to take food to a homeless shelter, you would know that they will only take HEALTHY, NUTRITIOUS food to feed to people that can’t feed themselves. And these cupcakes, kids, are as far from healthy and nutritious as one could get. I know – I actually MAKE healthy(er) cupcakes and cake, and regularly donate to charities and shelters around San Francisco.