Volume 69: Cupcake Theory

Posted on 05/15/2012


Is this more style or substance?

Recently, a co-worker of mine brought in some homemade cupcakes for office consumption. Now, normally I’m pretty skeptical about the culinary offerings of co-workers because…let’s just say “it’s like a box of chocolates”, and leave it at that. Adding to my dilemma is the fact that I’m not a huge sweet eater, I have an extremely discerning palate, and I have a hard time concealing the reaction on my face. Decisions… Decisions… But, it was a co-worker that I’m pretty friendly with, so I decided to take the plunge and taste the cupcake. To my pleasant surprise, it was gooooood. Check that. It was great! What made it great in my opinion was the fact that it wasn’t the usual over-sweet cupcakes that I’m used to eating. For some reason, people think that just because it’s technically a “dessert” that a cupcake must be like a Lauryn Hill song (The Sweetest Thing I’ve Ever Known), LOL! Anyway, as I was partaking in this delectable delight (and a second), I had a thought. What if the reason so many people are out of balance in their lives is because they treat life like a traditional cupcake; the sweeter the better? What if we need to (as my co-worker did) find the right balance between the sweet and sour of life to truly appreciate it? I mean, if life were all sweet, would we really appreciate it? If you’re wondering that I might be taking a cupcake experience a little too far, you could be right, LOL! At the same time, some of the most inspired work comes from the least likely sources. Why couldn’t a cupcake inspire? In this case, it most definitely did. It inspired me to devise the Cupcake Theory.

Appearance Isn’t Everything

I consider myself to be what-I-like-to-call a “ghetto foodie”. This means that, while I have no formal training in the culinary arts, nor do I have any credentials as a bona-fide food critic; I do eat out enough and watch enough Food Network and Cooking Channel to be considered dangerous. That, plus the fact that I actually owned a catering business (Burn Baby Burn) for two years, further  establishes my “ghetto foodie” status. One thing I’ve learned from my “experience” with food is that presentation is tantamount to igniting the senses and adds to the overall pleasure of dining. I mean, unless the food is incredible, it has to first look good, so our eyes can bias our mouths into thinking it tastes good. But, a funny (ironic) thing happened along the way. Chefs and cooks everywhere have over-focused on the appearance of food and forgot about the taste. How many times have you seen these elaborately decorated cupcakes with a mountain of icing that looks sooooo good, only to be disappointed by the taste? I have. A lot. It’s either out-of-balance (over-sweet), out-of-bounds (poor flavor choice), or out-of-the-box (literally) – but they look good. SMH! What I experienced from my co-worker’s cupcake was little-to-no attention paid on the fluff of appearance; and serious consideration paid on the thing that matters most: Substance.

Cupcakes and Life

I began to wonder, shouldn’t life be like this rather innocuous-looking cupcake? It wasn’t about the outer trappings designed to make it look as if it were good. I had to bite that cupcake to make that determination. Isn’t that how it should be? Shouldn’t we stop window dressing the exterior and focus on the interior? I don’t know how many attractive people I’ve met in my life that turned out to be horrible people, and vice versa. In both cases, I made an erroneous assumption about the person based on their appearance. I placed value on style versus substance and that cost me  in the long run. Cupcakes have become a metaphor for life because we want our lives to always look good and be sweet. That sounds like those chocolate Easter Bunnies I used to get as a kid. They were sweet and looked good, but were empty inside. Style over substance. What if we chose to focus on substance? What if we chose to be truly prolific at something other than looking like we are? What if, God forbid, we took down our walls and became mentally and emotionally intimate with one another?


Life has a funny (ironic) way of sending us messages. I never would’ve thought that little cupcake could inspire a post like this – let alone an entire theory, LOL! But… it did. I found myself wishing I had taken more time to get to know the people I came across that weren’t all wrapped up in pretty packages or had the appearance of being competent. I also found myself wishing that I had the courage to let down my own barriers more and allow people to get closer to me, so my relationships would have more depth. Romans 12:3 says in part, “…Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Cupcake Theory echoes this sentiment. In essence, the cupcake I had was humble and meek in appearance, yet was full of potential built on a solid foundation. That cupcake showed me that glitz and glamour (and a mountain of icing) aren’t necessary when trying to establish who you are. What’s more important to life is to start with the inside first, balance the sweet with the sour, and minimize the focus on appearance. That way, it’ll force you to take off the wrapper to see what’s inside. You might just like what you get. I know I did.

That’s just my three cents…


“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”