Cupcake Nation

The popular treat is spawning TV shows, books, retail chains—and the cake pop


“Would you like a free cupcake?”


The no-brainer question stops sidewalk traffic as Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne, wearing her signature hot pink apron and matching lipstick, holds out a ribboned tray of mini-treats.

It’s a steaming 99 degrees outside. A TLC camera crew is filming the stunt for an October special of D.C. Cupcakes, focused on LaMontagne’s chain, Georgetown Cupcake, founded with sister Katherine Kallinis Berman. Neither the hubbub nor heat deter families, tattooed hipsters, tourists and girls—lots and lots of girls of all ages—from taking a cupcake. There’s red velvet, salted caramel, coconut and the New York Pinstripe Pretzel, just created for Yankees legend Bernie Williams, who visited the store earlier to frost them for a charity bake-off against Red Sox icon Jason Varitek. The episode marks the sisters opening their fourth store in Boston this fall.

“Cupcakes really do speak to you—there’s something intrinsically personal about them,” Sophie says. “People are fanatic about cupcakes.”

In fact, America loves the treat that exploded into the popular culture a decade ago, after Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw and her gal posse bit into them at the Magnolia Bakery in New York’s Greenwich Village. The crumby cameo on the megahit helped transform the dessert from a kids’ birthday party treat into a luxury item and, ultimately, a multibillion-dollar industry. Ever since, foodies, retailers, TV programmers, booksellers and media experts want to know: Can anything stop the cupcake?

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