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Hungry for life with an appetite for good food.


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Food For Thought: A Farewell to Crumbs Bake Shop

It seems that the whole country collectively freaked out when news broke that the Crumbs Bake Shop empire came crumbling down last Tuesday. Pun fully intended.

I have been soaking in everything I’ve been hearing and reading to fathom what comes next for the dessert world.

Crumbs’ History

So Crumbs was a mom and pop shop that first opened on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in March 2003 by Jason and Mia Bauer. They are best known for their over-the-top, oversized cupcakes like their Girl Scout Cookies range topped with half of either a Thin Mint, Lemon Shortbread, or PB Creme, or Red Velvet and Red Velvet Cheesecake with a surprise cheesecake filling. Most of their cupcakes had the surprise pocket of icing in the middle. Not to mention they also had monstrous cupcakes that were probably equivalent to four of their already-large cupcakes.

The company went public in June 2011 when ownerships switched hands to a large corporation. Crumbs had 79 locations in 12 states and Washington D.C., making them the largest cupcake chain in the nation. They’ve tried many different products, like brewing Starbucks coffee and teas, gourmet sandwiches, knock-off cronuts (dubbed “Crumbnuts”), and even opening an gluten-free shop.

On July 8, Crumbs announced that they were closing all of their shops and notified employees at the end of the previous day, thus ending the end of the cupcake empire.

Why Crumbs Lost Business

Powdered sugar-covered Crumbnut

Powdered sugar-covered Crumbnut

If you want cupcakes, there are so many other cupcake shops out there, so it’s not like it’ll be a huge loss for the dessert world. The two shops that come to mind are Magnolia Bakery and Sprinkles Cupcakes. What I think Crumbs made the mistake of doing was getting big too fast. And others have been saying the same. Magnolia always draws long lines because they only have locations in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles in the U.S.—seven locations in total. The exclusivity of Magnolia is what drives their business.

In an interview with Newsweek back in February 2011, Jason Bauer said that he wanted to make Crumbs “the dessert destination the same way Starbucks is everybody’s coffee destination.” He adds:

“Cupcakes are part of our dessert culture, like cookies and brownies. We’ve had double-digit growth eight years in a row from our oldest store. You can’t argue with the numbers. Cupcakes are here to stay. When people stop eating dessert, they’ll stop eating cupcakes.”

A cup of coffee and a cupcake are not the same. People rely on coffee to jump start their day or act as a pick-me-up. Cupcakes are a once-in-a-while treat. Even with chains like Dunkin Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, the portions are small for a doughnut or cup of ice cream and cheaper. Definitely not as decadent as a $4.50 cupcake.

I know I sound like I’m hating on Crumbs, but honestly I really liked them. Last fall, I went to Crumbs a lot for the Crumbnut because I could not get (and still have not gotten) my hands on the highly-coveted cronut from the Dominique Ansel Bakery. When I used to intern in Chelsea, I would stop by the Crumbs on 6th Ave. for a cup of Americano and a Crumbnut. And you know what? I really liked the Crumbnut, even though they got a lot of flak for knocking off the cronut. Especially the apple pie flavor. Crumbs did get its fair share of customers, too. In March, I visited the Crumbs in Times Square and there was a long line—business looked like it was booming! And I passed by the gluten-free shop spontaneously a couple of weeks ago, which I was hoping I could visit. But I did see the signs of business dwindling when the a location on 7th Ave. near Penn Station shuttered sometime last fall. It just seems surreal that they are now closed.

The End of the Dessert Era?

Time Out New York claims that ice cream is the new cupcake. I can’t say I disagree, but I don’t think cupcakes are making their exit just yet. Magnolia and Sprinkles are still doing well. I just don’t think the world is ready for a cupcake conglomerate on every corner of a neighborhood. So here’s a final farewell to Crumbs. Thank you for your inventive cupcakes and for giving me a taste of what a cronut might taste like. You will be missed.


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Well, hello there!

I know it’s been a while since I updated my blog (like, a year and a half). Here’s what I’ve been up to:

I just graduated from college and now I feel a bit lost and hungry to do something creative (especially because I have a lot more free time now). This blog first started as a project for a journalism class, and I made the foolish decision to neglect it once the class ended. But now that I have had some self discovery this past year and a half, I feel more confident than ever that this blog is something I want to pursue.

The moment I knew food was an area I was passionate about was the moment I wrote this article for a features writing class. My professor said that I had a knack for describing food. Then I thought, “Hey, maybe this is something I should keep at and improve!”

The following semester, I interned at TheDailyMeal.com, where I wrote food news. I had such a blast writing these pieces and monitoring trends in the food world (and I’m not going to lie, the free food was a perk, too!).

So now that I’ve done some navigating, it’s safe to stay I will be updating this blog on a more regular basis. Stay tuned!

Stay tuned for more from me!

Stay tuned for more from me!


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Thanksgiving on a budget

Want to hear all about my Thanksgiving? Click here to listen to my podcast!

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My Thanksgiving experience this year taught me that broke college students can prepare a whole meal, too! Here are some tips that I took away from it:

  • Pardon a turkey, eat chicken. Rotisserie chicken is a great alternative to turkey because it’s ready to eat and inexpensive as well (about $5-$10 at Costco). It may not be traditional, but it does save the sleep effects of tryptophan from the turkey.
  • Cans and boxes are your best friend. As terrible as it sounds, canned food and boxed items are your best friend on a budget, especially if your kitchen does not have an oven. And almost everything is instant nowadays. So, you can have cranberry sauce from a can, boxed stuffing, boxed mashed potatoes, canned or frozen vegetables, and any additional sides such as instant macaroni and cheese.
  • Check if there are any open restaurants in your area. On Thanksgiving, my friends and I found that Boston Market and Uno’s Chicago Grill were open. I’ve never been to Boston Market (shocking, I know), but from what I have heard, they have great Thanksgiving fixings. Unfortunately for us, the line for Boston Market went well past the door (as expected). We picked up a few of the Reese’s Cup desserts from Uno’s. Or, you could even just ditch cooking and eat out.
  • Variety is the spice of life. I spent Thanksgiving with a friend from Hawaii, an Ecuadorian, and two Asians from New York. My Hawaii friend made ham and pineapple, and the Ecuadorian made “tortillas”: saffron-flavored potatoes filled with mozzarella cheese. These were simple meals that added a cool edge to the assortment of food. If you are cooking with others, ask if they know of any simple cultural dishes from their families.

These may not be the healthiest or wholesome options, but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. It definitely was not like the Thanksgiving dinner prepared by my mom, but I really enjoyed it. And for a bunch of college students with no oven, this was a feast. Thanksgiving dinner does not always have to take two days to prepare. Sometimes, it’s just all about being resourceful.


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Food Checklist: Sandy Edition

Superstorm Sandy left the tri-state area in a wreck. The storm barraged through the east coast on Monday evening and left a mess that has not been easy to clean up.

Hofstra University has been very fortunate to have minimal damage. There was a power outage on Monday evening for an hour and television cable was out until today. The most that I have seen were fallen trees, but I do understand that there have been water and gas problems that have been delaying classes to resume.

Trees on campus were knocked down from the powerful winds of Sandy. Photo taken on my iPhone.

Strong winds uprooted large trees on campus. Photo taken on my iPhone.

I stocked up on some food essentials to prepare for Sandy’s wrath because I knew I did not want to venture outside much this week. Without these items, I definitely would not have survived.

1. GoPicnic Salami + Cheese

This tasty pack includes beef salami slices, olive oil & sea salt crackers, asiago cheese spread, fruit & nut mix, and a chocolate crunch cluster. I love this because it is a perfect portion and it’s easy to eat wherever you are. It is also the best combination of salty and sweet. I like to think of GoPicnic as the modern day Lunchables except it is non-perishable and healthier. I bought it with the intention of eating it as dinner. It makes a great meal substitution in situations such as storms.

2. Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts

Or any Pop-Tarts flavor for that matter. You can’t go wrong with it because it doesn’t need to be toasted and it’s great for on-the-go, in case you may have to evacuate. I have been eating it for breakfast and it has not failed to satisfy my hunger. It may be loaded with sugar, but drastic times call for drastic measures.

3. Cookie butter and Nutella sandwiches (refer to this post)

I don’t know who else does this, but I keep my peanut butter in the fridge in fear that it will go bad. Cookie butter from Trader Joe’s does not require refrigeration, nor does Nutella. Not to mention the sandwich tastes like a holiday cookie. Bread is a staple for storms because it does not need to be toasted just like Pop-Tarts. I have had so many of these sandwiches this week. Cookie butter and Nutella is one of the best combinations I have found.

4. Annie Chun’s Hot & Sour Soup Bowl

I may not always eat instant ramen, but when I do, it’s Annie Chun’s. I love my Japanese ramen and udon, and this is the closest thing I can find to it without going out to the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This soup bowl was my dinner on the night of the storm. It was only fitting because soup and a rainy day are the perfect pair. It may not be practical if you don’t have power unless you can find a way to boil water. Fortunately for me, I was able to prepare it while I still had power. This soup bowl cooks in the microwave for 90 seconds. It is a bit more expensive, but I prefer it to Top Ramen or any other instant noodles because the fat content is lower. The Hot & Sour bowl contains 1.5 grams of fat whereas a chicken flavored Top Ramen contains 7 grams. It is the best brand of instant noodles, in my opinion.

5. Good ol’ granola bars

Granola bars are a staple to my dorm room because they tide me over until I have access to an actual meal. They are also great on-the-go. I am currently loving the Kashi Layered Dark Chocolate Coconut because the chocolate consistency is like a smooth fudge. It is outstanding. Any type of granola bar is essential for storms.

My thoughts go out to anyone who has been affected by Sandy. I am grateful for all of the men and women working to clean up the debris that Sandy has left behind. I cannot wait for everything to be back to normal again so we can embrace the next upcoming storm: the holidays.

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