CUPCAKE MANIA….The Washington Post reports today about a brewing parental backlash against schools that try to ban birthday cupcakes. An expert explains what’s behind it:
The cupcake-as-symbol-of-childhood is powerful: It’s wrapped in the cultural definition of what it means to be a good mother, something that’s a moving target in this society, said Kathryn Oths, an anthropologist at the University of Alabama who studies food and culture.
….”Think about it. Banning cupcakes is almost like an assault on the national identity,” Oths said. “It comes at a time when there are fears of terrorism and the immigration brouhaha that they’re ‘watering down’ our traditional American culture ? meaning middle-class white America ? that’s slipping out of our grasp.”
Um, OK. But what I really want to know is where this cupcake mania came from in the first place. Do modern parents really bring in cupcakes for every single birthday? That must be 20 or 30 cupcake days a year. Seriously?
Question: has this changed over the years, or was Orange County just a cupcake-less wasteland during the 60s? I don’t recall even celebrating birthdays in school when I was growing up, let alone being fed trays of cupcakes on a regular basis. And believe me, if cupcakes really are a celebration of middle-class, white, better-dead-than-red Americana, Orange Country would have been leading the pack in cupcake feedings.
So when did this start? Is it a regional thing? Did I miss out? I know I have plenty of teachers who read this blog. Help me out in comments.
UPDATE: Responses are all over the map. Some people remember vast feeding frenzies of youthful cupcakes, other went entirely cupcake-less like me. Best comment comes from Chicago Liberal:
You have no idea.
You try to raise a non-obese, relatively healthy kid and you do okay until they hit kindergarten. Between the cupcake days, the party days, and the “specials” (teacher’s day, Arbor Day, whatever) there’s hardly a day that isn’t loaded with extra artificial food coloring, high fructose corn syrup and fat. And then we wonder why the kids all misbehave. Blue, tattooed “froot” leather does not occur anywhere in nature! But try to tell that to most parents.
Seriously, parents will get near violent with you when you suggest at an average suburban school that maybe we should just have one cupcake/candy/sweet treats day a month, or otherwise limit sweets. So, you can tell your kid that she can sit in the corner and eat her grapes and carrots while her friend passes out the sponge bob froot snacks. You can harp on the teacher. Or you can take it to the [PTA] where they will roll their eyes at you.