The Amazing History of Cupcakes


The history of cupcakes is richer than you might expect.

Cupcakes are hard to hate. As soon as a tray of them are presented at an event, they disappear almost instantly. How could anyone hate them when they are nothing more than small cakes topped with sugary, whipped frosting? Cupcakes have been around for centuries now, so it’s easy to take them for granted, but where did they come from originally?

It appears that the history of cupcakes has a solid American background and it is believed that the first manifestation of the cupcake was from a 1796 cookbook called “American Cookery” by Amelia Simmons. Interestingly, however, these little desserts were not actually called cupcakes until much later in 1828 when a woman called Eliza Leslie came up with the term in her own cookbook, “Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats.” It is Leslie that usually given the credit of being the inventor of the cupcake, but many believe that there is no single inventor to the cupcake. The early history of the cupcake is vague because it was created in kitchens at home, the recipes and nuances of which were traditionally passed down through families rather than documented.

history of cupcakes
Photo by Valeria Boltneva from Pexels.

History of Cupcakes

It can be interpreted that the cupcake was invented out of convenience for those who did not want to labor through making an entire cake and then having to slice and serve it. Cupcakes also bake faster than an ordinary cake and take up smaller amounts of ingredients. In order to get the perfect shape of the cupcakes, teacups are believed to have been used, along with ramekins. The specialized tins or paper liners that we are familiar with in the kitchen today would not come around until much later.

After a couple hundred years of making these delicious pastries by hand, industrialization finally took its course and in 1919, the Hostess bakery company came out with their ever-famous CupCake that would be sold commercially in their stores. This CupCake, being a dainty single-portion snack was immediately beloved, especially by children, who did not have to share their small delicacy.

Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels.

Another reason why cupcakes may be so popular, other than being small and quick to make, is that they can be so versatile. As long as the basic ingredients of eggs, flour, sugar, and butter are included, anything could be added to the batter, such as nuts, berries, chocolate chips, raisins, or coconut shavings. But this is not even touching upon the most visual part of the cupcake: the frosting. While cupcakes themselves can be filled with frosting, it does not allow for much creativity. The frosting on top of a cupcake is where real artistic charm can be expressed, and any visitor to a bakery can often find amusing renditions of cartoon figures, flowers, animals, and holiday-designs in the form of frosting on top of cupcakes.

The making of cupcakes in this modern age is also easier than ever before. Today, instead of teacups or heavy ceramic vessels, cupcakes are usually baked in efficient muffin tins that allow the baking of several cupcakes at once. Cupcake liners are also a big help since they prevent sticking to the muffin tin and can actually be used without the muffin tin altogether. Cupcake kits, which have everything required for the making and baking of cupcakes, have also become quite popular. Interestingly, despite all this innovation, the cupcake has not changed all that much in hundreds of years and still remains an easy and tasty treat.

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