Cupcake truck tweets locations to customers
By Carly Sitzer
To reflect the surge in popularity of cupcakes in the U.S., the expression “selling like hotcakes” should be changed to “selling like cupcakes.” After all, the expression “selling like hotcakes” first came into play in the early 19th century, when the demand for hotcakes, cooked in bear grease or pig lard, by Americans was at its highest—not nearly as appealing.
For over a decade, cupcakes have been a critical staple in popular culture, ranging from cupcake blogs to an entire show on the Food Network called Cupcake Wars.
In this world of cupcake competition, not only does it take a delicious recipe to make a living off cupcakes, but a seller needs to be unique in attracting customers.
The CupcakeStop, New York City’s first mobile gourmet cupcake shop, has both.
CupcakeStop, founded in 2009 by ’06 Ithaca College grad Lev Ekster, is a company in which a cupcake-serving truck stations itself around a different part of the city each day and informs their customers of their current location. After graduating from law school, Ekster realized the job market for lawyers wasn’t ideal, so he decided to start his own business.
“I saw how popular all the cupcake places in Manhattan were, but none of them were really that impressive in terms of quality,” Ekster said. “And then when it came time to decide on a location, the truck idea just made it possible to start sooner; there wasn’t anything like it in New York City yet.”
Those wanting a treat can find CupcakeStop’s location by visiting their Web site or by following them on Twitter.
“Part of what makes CupcakeStop more fun than a traditional cupcake shop is the adventure,” explained Jordan Sapiro, a CupcakeStop customer. “It’s fun and exciting if you’re in the city and you visit it to see if they are near, rather than just stopping by any other bakery.”
Though the process of finding these cupcakes is very interactive for customers, it also makes business more personal for Ekster, who does all the tweeting on his own.
“Twitter was a way for us to keep in touch with our customers—know where we are, what flavors we have,” Ekster said. “But it kind of evolved into a real dialogue between us and our followers. A lot of it isn’t necessarily related to cupcakes anymore, it’s just getting their opinions, their critiques, their suggestions. It’s not just a business relationship anymore, it’s a friendship.”
Another aspect that differentiates CupcakeStop from other bakeries is their generosity—Ekster and his team are as sweet as the cupcakes themselves. Any cupcakes not sold at the end of the day are donated to homeless shelters through City Harvest, an organization based in New York City that collects unwanted or leftover food from restaurants and donates it to feed the poor. This is not only a great way to give back to the community, but also further guarantees fresh cupcakes every morning on the truck.
“It’s great to see that they are doing something with their leftovers rather than the extras just going to waste,” said Jennifer Robbins, a frequent customer of CupcakeStop. “Although it’s hard to believe that there are actually any left over at the end of the day!”
In less than a year since CupcakeStop was officially launched, they have seen a lot of success and exposure, with more than 11,000 followers on Twitter, as well as several mentions in The New York Times, New York Post, The Huffington Post and many other news programs and publications. However, this is just the beginning for CupcakeStop.
The business is currently working on expanding their Web site, which will include apparel as well as out-of-state shipping. Eventually, they would like to add more trucks and create franchises nationwide and maybe even overseas.
Whatever CupcakeStop chooses as its next endeavor is sure to be great. After all, with cupcakes as great as theirs, their future can’t be anything but sweet.
Carly Sitzer is a freshman journalism major who loves CupcakeStop’s psychedelic tie dye cupcakes. E-mail her at email@example.com.