Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rant: Magnolia Bakery

I don't really get this place.

In order to sample some of these:

People wait in these lines:

Why? WHY?? Doesn't Zagat's have a "Teflon" category or something, for those restaurants that are perennially popular even though by all objective means, the place is unsatisfactory?  Magnolia Bakery is the epitomy of Teflon. It boggles my mind why the word hasn't spread that the cupcakes here taste like ass made of sawdust.

Is it because it was in Sex and the City? I mean, did those women ever really eat?

Is it because it's a neighborhood fixture?  Because we have a long-standing sex shop right around the corner from us that I'm fairly positive is a front for drug activity--should we keep that around because it's a "fixture"?  Being a fixture does not excuse the fact that they serve cupcakes that taste like they've taken Betty Crocker batter, removed any redeeming qualities the quick mix may have had, nuked it in little paper cups, let it sit for days, doused it with aforementioned frosting, left it out for another few days, and then finally sold it to the unsuspecting public.

I understand if people want to try it because they've heard so much about it, especially if they're from out of town. What is more puzzling are the people who eat it and pretend to like it, and return at some point to wait in line for more.

Actually, I don't know if that's the case.  Maybe the long line is always new people on the eve of discovering how crappy the cupcakes are.  They move on, spitting out the cupcake in the corner trashcan, never to return, only to be replaced by the next new person who wants to see what the whole Magnolia thing is about.

I don't necessarily think that the cupcakes, in and of themselves, deserve such venom. I mean, they kinda do, but I think my strong reaction is more caused by the inexplicable popularity of the cupcakes.  It wouldn't be so bad if people just popped in and bought those subpar cupcakes, but it's that they are a legend, and people wait and wait and wait for them.

You know, maybe I shouldn't be that hard on Magnolia. It's not easy to make a good cupcake.  Amy's Bread makes a decent one, but there's something missing about it--maybe because it's not in the classic American cupcake shape. Doesn't taste as cute.  We also recently had some from Tribeca Treats, which were quite good.

Okay I'm done.


  1. I know exactly what you mean. I feel similarly about Sprinkles. It's fine (so I don't hate the cupcakes), but are they good enough to wait in line around the corner? No. But, after I pay $4 for a little cupcake and waited in line for 20 minutes, you better believe I'm going to lie to myself and say it tastes like heaven. So maybe that's what's going on at Magnolia.

  2. I wouldn't stand in line at Magnolia's for their cupcakes. BUT for their banana pudding? That's a different story entirely. It's muy bueno. I've been known to buy a GIANT tub of the stuff and eat it for all 3 meals. And even though I have the Magnolia's cookbook with the recipe, my homemade version somehow still doesn't compare.

  3. I TOTALLY agree with you. So subpar. You want a AMAZING cupcake? Go to Billy's Bakery in Chelsea, or trek to Hoboken to Carlos. Billys though, FANTASTC

  4. glad i'm not the only one! kelly thanks for the tip--i'd heard about billy's bakery but have not been yet, can't wait!

  5. I'm a fan of the Buttercup cupcake (same recipe as Mangolia, but their frosting is a little different for some reason), but I go to this Magnolia because I like observing the stoned employees. Yes, they are stoned. And not on cupcakes.

  6. I don't think there are very good cupcakes around where I live because I thought Magnolia was pretty decent from what I've had to choke down. There is a cute little cupcake truck that stops a few blocks from my house frequently and those cupcakes are so shitty they make me angry. They are adorable---and great flavors (like smores and salted caramel) but they are so friggin stingy and expensive that I wanted to write a long ass rant about them too but I assume they're a small biz and I don't want to shit all over a small business like that. Not like they'd give a crap. I like how I think that me blogging about something would really affect anyone.

    BTW this is the truck and the cupcakes suck poo. I mean really you can't pour 2 tbsp more of batter in your damn cakes to make them more significant looking than the pathetic tiny pieces of poo that they are right now?

  7. I don't get Magnolia either. I've tried them three times, each time hoping that I must be missing something (because the line is so long!) but I walk away unimpressed every time.

    My personal favorite cupcake place is just down the street from my place: the Goodie Bake Shop ( Their specialty is the red velvet cupcake and ALL my friends who've tried it swear that it's the best red velvet cupcake they've ever had (even better than Carlos in Hoboken). And although they're based in NJ, they also sell their cupcakes in a cafe in Harlem AND they deliver to NYC.

  8. thanks for all the suggestions! geek--it seems so indulgent to order cupcake delivery that i just might go for it for the sheer experience!

  9. I agree. stale, dry, tasteless cupcakes topped with oversweetened globs of shortening frosting = immediate spit out into the nearest trash can.

  10. I agree... Magnolia's cupcake is not the best, but their banana pudding is to die for! (Right on, Hot Cocoa!) I always preorder the giant vat for holidays and parties. I also prefer Buttercup's cupcakes (Buttercup owners were former Magnolia employees). But my new loves are the Sweet Melissa tiny bites and though not a cupcake, but definitely hits the sweet spot... a liege waffel from Wafel & Dinges truck. To die for!

  11. Magnolia's cupcakes = meh, but I do dig their lemon bars. Om nommy. I've also heard billy's is good - but have yet to make my way over there.

  12. Seriously....."fancy cupcakes" are on the rise, the way that "Fancy frozen yogurt" is now popping up everywhere (thanks pinkberry). However, I think fancy cupcakes taste like shit. A box of Betty Crocker cake mix topped with Pillsbury frosting? HELL YES.