Cupcake Controversy

It's hard to argue with your mouth full of buttercream, but dozens of detractors and supporters took to the commentary section to debate and refute hidden meanings and offensive messages behind... cupcakes. Specifically, MagPies Bakery's three inauguration cupcakes, which compose a salute to the geographic progression of Barack Obama's life—one pina colada, to hail his start in Hawaii; one marble-topped with chocolate ganache and vanilla buttercream in a yin-yang design to celebrate the "Mr. Chicago" years; and a white-cake White House version with blueberry buttercream and a fresh raspberry.

While owner Peggy Hambright says the promotions Monday and Tuesday were the two busiest days her business ever had, with many unfamiliar faces stopping by and cupcakes sold by the thousands, the online comments, 52 total, ranged from spirited to hostile (two were removed by site administrators). The most-commented controversy: "Ask them if they did the same for President Bush in 2000 or 2004." (One cheeky, but inaccurate, response, "Yes, and they were only half-baked.") Other hot issues: whether a marble cupcake was politically incorrect ("It's meant to represent the fact that Chicago is a wonderful melting pot of cultures and ideas. It wasn't meant to be about race," responded the cupcake's creator Brenna Whaley), and whether, given Obama's smoking habit, the cupcakes should have been adorned with Marlboros, which led to off-topic jibes about Monica Lewinsky and cigars.

Hambright says no one who came by MagPies for cupcakes had any controversial remarks to make, and she's enjoying a whirl of positive publicity—three television stations taped at the bakery Monday, and her cupcakes are featured in the February issue of Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine as one of the Top Five Cupcakes in the Nation.