Cupcake Nation

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

It all started in the winter of 2008, soon after Georgian Angie Dudley founded baking blog Bakerella and wrote about impaling some pink-coated chocolate cake balls on a stick.  “I wanted to turn them into a lollipop,” she recalls. “I’d never seen it before.”

To get the dessert onto cupcake blogs, she crafted a cake pop in the shape of a cupcake, replete with frosting and sprinkles. A month later, Martha Stewart invited Dudley to appear on her TV show to demonstrate. Since then, Bakerella has made many diverse variations, including her famous yellow chicks, robots, Mr. Potato Head and The Muppets for Disney’s website.

Her book, Cake Pops: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes for More Than 40 Irresistible Mini Treats, has sold more than one million copies and has been translated into 11 languages, according to Chronicle Books. Bakerella’s Cake Pops Kit, also by Chronicle, includes recipes, sticks, clear cello bags, wrapping gift tags and a cake pop display stand and has sold more than 100,000 copies. Next up: Cake Pops Holidays. Chronicle has also licensed toy company SRM Entertainment to create a no-bake cake pop set for kids to be carried in Toys R Us stores.

Bakerella isn’t alone in capitalizing on cake pops. Robin Ankeny, who grew up eating her mother’s cake balls in South East Texas, opened The Cake Ball Company in Dallas in 2007 with partner Charlotte Lyon. They’ve gone from selling 7,000 cake balls in 2007 to more than 200,000 in 2011. A book is forthcoming.

And Telebrands, the original “As Seen on TV” company, jumped on the trend last winter when it began selling Bake Pop tins. So far, it has sold two million of the tins at $19.99 in retailers such as at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Walmart. Telebrands CEO AJ Khubani expects even more robust sales in fourth quarter, as the holiday season approaches.

Yet the place where many will encounter cake pops may be Starbucks, which last year introduced its variation, Starbucks Petites, priced at about $1.50 and touting 200 calories.

Still, don’t expect any of the cake pops or other upstarts to supplant cupcakes in the near future. “It’s not a faddish-type trend,” Brockman says. “All the pretenders are quite on the periphery of the market.”

Even Bakerella’s Dudley doesn’t predict a pop takeover. “It’s just another choice for people,” she says. “I still eat cupcakes.”

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