Food News

In the Battle of Doughnuts versus Cupcakes, Dallas Is Apparently a Two-Pastry Town

You know how at the beginning of Gravity (spoiler alert) George Clooney is tooting around space on a jetpack, which at a fatally important time loses all its juice? Clooney slowly and helplessly floats into space, somewhere high above the Serengeti. There's a metaphor here (somewhere) about the cupcake trend that started a decade or more ago, fueled by soft mounds of icing. Yet despite a downtick, these little cakes keep reappearing. Or is this just a dream sequence?

Case in point: Smallcakes, a Kansas City-based cupcake confectionary, is opening a new store in Mockingbird Station today, its third local spot. Plus we have a Sprinkles, a Sprinkles ATM and a handful of locally-based bakers, including Trailercakes and Society Bakery, which Scott Reitz cracked out on recently.

The news of Smallcakes was a bit jarring. Another cupcake spot? Didn't NPR declare this trend dead years ago? The Cupcake Bubble, they called it, and it was supposed to be popped by doughnuts.

Not that they're an especially new trend. Way back in 2001, Josh Mogerman with The Chicagoist compared the issue to the city's historic architecture: "The aesthetic of this town should lean towards the simple, strong goodness of time-tested fritters and long johns. They are the super-structural Xs on the Hancock building ..."

In January, Andrew Marder with put it more plainly in his article, "Doughnuts Are the New Cupcakes." "We've been forced to endure life under the frosted iron fist of cupcake supremacy," he wrote, "but the reign of terror is coming to an end."

However stale the trend is, in Dallas it feels like doughnuts are just getting started. Hypnotic was a game-changer, then Glazed Donut Works in Deep Ellum opened last year and has been pushing out pastries not to just a sleepy morning crowd but also a late-night crowd that could use some sleep. Then, this summer, Dallas will get a taste of the famous Seattle-based Top Pot doughnuts, their first retail store outside of the Pugent Sound area.

We're on a roll here, so maybe Dallas is just fat and happy in the middle of the road, a totally two-pastry town.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.