Young and Hungry

The Truly Awful Thing About the Cupcake Craze: The Wasteful Packaging

bakeshop cupcakes

Cupcakes from the Bakeshop

Everyone, it seems, is going bonkers about cupcakes. Sometimes I like to kid myself that I hate cupcakes, just because they're so freaking popular, but I don't.

I'm not crazy about some of the cupcake culture — mostly, the exclusive, Georgetown boutique ambiance of some cupcakeries — but by and large I'm right there with you. I like cupcakes, and I like the marked improvement in quality that some gourmet shops have brought to the once lowly snack. The richer chocolates, the buttercream frostings, the fresh fruits.

But the one part of the cupcake craze I can't stomach is the packaging. Whenever you order cupcakes to go — which is almost all the time since most shops have no  seating — your little cake comes entombed in plastic or cardboard or some wasteful packaging.

C'mon, cupcake people. Why don't you just charge another 10 cents and buy biodegradable packaging? If people are willing to pay $3 for a single cupcake, certainly they'll pay an extra dime for the environment.

Then again, maybe not.

Check out all the cupcake packaging after the jump. Maybe some of this is more green than it looks? I hope so.


From Alexandria Cupcake


From Chinatown Coffee Co., which sells Bakeshop cupcakes

Georgetown 4

From Georgetown Cupcake


From Starbucks, which sells crappy, over-frosted cupcakes and stuffs them into oatmeal containers.

  • Jenna

    Yeah, but if you're selling cupcakes individually, you have to offer an option for packaging them individually. And the frosting tops just make that really challenging. I packaged all my peanut butter cupcakes at a bake sale last year, and, like, there weren't a lot of options (at least, available to the home baker - not sure about businesses). I ended up putting them in plastic wine glasses and covering them with cellophane. No, not environmentally friendly, but cute.

  • MelissaMcCart

    Cupcakes are preppy. They're like wearing a belt with whales or cords embroidered with golf clubs.

  • Fred

    The love cafe or whatever that place is called on u street will put them in a bag if you want. Also, you can always Bring Your Own containers. SHOCKING! Maybe there should be a charge associated with them, though my feeling is unlike the bag fee, people would not mind paying that charge at all.

    But agreed: all that plastic is hideous.

  • Kathy

    Georgetown Cupcake charges 50 cents for a box (at least if you order one; not sure for order of multiple cupcakes) but they will put it in a small bag for free.

  • n.

    That pic from Chinatown Coffee: that's a biodegradable "Greenware" PLA cup, my friend. Not the most elegant of presentations, but it's earth-friendly!

  • Mike

    This topic seems to me as a non sequitur. The packaging all seem to be recycable, so just recycle them.

  • Fred

    That plastic is NOT recyclable. Nope.

  • chaofun

    I've actually brought my container back to Backshop multiple times.

  • Fred

    There ya go!

  • anotherview

    The worst thing about the cupcake craze is that the cupcakes are crappy-tasting, overpriced garbage.

    Luckily, there's a direct correlation between not buying this particular type of expensive-shit-food and not using the wasteful, stupid packaging.

  • CDB

    Who cares if you purchase expensive packaging to go with your expensive cupcake? It's not like the packaging is provided to the customer for free. It's not like the customer can refuse the packaging. It's not like I didn't reuse the pink Georgetown cupcake box from the last time I bought them or recycled the boxes from Baked and Wired.

    I am paying for a nice box people because I want to make an impression on my date, WTF! Grow up.

  • CDB

    should read: "not like the customer CAN'T refuse the packaging."