This summer has seen a sugary-sweet explosion of cupcake shops.
At least three new cupcake shops have opened recently in the Fresno area, joining two existing ones and several bakeries that make cupcakes.
It's a trend that gripped New York years ago after "Sex and the City" featured two characters eating cupcakes outside Magnolia Bakery. Since then, cupcakes have become a mainstay of big-city event planning. A growing number of cupcake bakeries on both coasts serve a demand for cupcakes by brides who wanted them instead of wedding cake, families buying them for birthday parties and hungry office workers seeking a treat on the way home.
But isn't this trend on the way out?
The Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co. Inc., a New York-based, 41-year-old restaurant consulting company, declared cupcakes would peak in 2011. Other food trend predictors said pies would be the new "in" dessert.
Things are different in Fresno.
The cupcake trend hasn't fully hit Fresno yet, says Chef Don Waddell, head of the culinary program at the Institute of Technology in Clovis.
"We're a meat and potatoes kind of town," he says. "We're not the cutting-edge of anything having to do with food."
And it's not just food. Lots of trends -- like fashion and entertainment -- hit Fresno later than its big city counterparts, says Tim Stearns, director of the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at California State University, Fresno.
"People in the Valley are a little bit more skeptical about trends," he says. "It's a cultural thing. We're very much like the Midwest."
The recent cupcake shop openings are building on a growing demand, the owners say.
Madeline "Maddie" Travis was an assistant general manager at the Elephant Bar, making cupcakes on the side until she got so many orders it began taking over her days off. She opened Maddie Cakes in June in the Pavilion West shopping center at Bullard and West avenues, selling jumbo cupcakes.
It was a similar story for Melissa Garone, who ran My Cupcake Creations for several years, doing custom orders for weddings and other events. She and her husband Chris opened Simply Frosted in August near the movie theater at Shaw and Valentine avenues. It sells mini and slightly-larger-than-average size cupcakes, along with cake pops, cookie sandwiches and cookies.
The Frosted Bakeshop, which opened in downtown Selma in July, tested the waters at Pub-n-Sub, a pizza place in Kingsburg. Margie Buller owns both and tried a bakery counter selling cupcakes at the restaurant.
They sold well enough to open the Frosted Bakeshop, which sells cupcakes, cake pops -- bite size cake on a stick -- and candy at 1920 High St.
The new bakeries hope to share in the success experienced by cupcake bakeries in other cities. Those bakeries include New York-based Crumbs, which become a publicly traded company this year, and the famous Sprinkles Cupcakes, which started in Beverly Hills and expanded to 11 locations nationwide.
"Definitely Fresno is just starting on that trend," says Karen Cook, who opened Cupcakes Bakery in 2008 at Cedar and Herndon avenues.
Her business is still going strong, she says. Sales have gradually increased since her opening.
Her least expensive cupcake is 95-cent mini, affordable for even cash-strapped customers, she says. She has to sell a lot of cupcakes to make a living with prices that low, but says she's doing it.
"The customer always comes through and the bills are paid and everybody's happy," she says.