'Sex & the City' Cupcake Showdown Gets Ugly

magnolia bakery cupcakesIt doesn't matter that they've been featured on SNL, or that a tour bus filled with the Sex & the City-faithful stops in front of their storefront every so often. I've never been a fan of Magnolia Bakery. Having given them more than a fair share of chances, I finally drew the disappointing conclusion that their cupcakes are far too dry and crumbly, and frosting way too dense and sweet. Maybe they used to be something special, but that was before my time. Back in the '90s when founders Jennifer Appel and Allysa Torey still ran the show.

See, Appel left Magnolia in 1999 when her friendship with Torey soured and went off to open Buttercup Bake Shop. In 2007, Steve and Tyra Abrams bought the company from Torey. Ever since, 1.) Magnolia's cupcakes have sucked and 2.) Appel, aka the "Don Corleone" of New York cupcakes (or so she's been called, because Magnolia spawned "seven families" of shops), is constantly involved in legal battles. 


She's currently immersed in a food fight with the Abrams' over a Greek "thief." The Abramses claim that Appel deliberately helped a Greek socialite named Nicola Kotovos by handing over Magnolia's recipes and business secrets, "allowing her to open an unauthorized 'Magnolia Bakery' in Greece." They're suing Appel for alleged trademark infringement, unfair competition, and interfering in a contract.

Oh, give me a break!! These Abramses need to get a grip. First of all, do they really think they should consider a cupcake shop in Athens to be competition? Second, their product is disgusting these days. Maybe if they stepped it up in the taste/texture departments, no one would care about some measly "rip-off" shop ... which, by the way, is named Hamptons Cupcakes, NOT Magnolia Bakery, according to Kotovos.

Their brand would be safer, if their product actually made customers want to be loyal. It's why Starbucks knew they had to step up their game last year, and cut all that high-fructose corn syrup in food and lattes in a production line garbage out. Customers won't stray from a quality product -- but a bad one? Well, maybe that's why the Abramses are so threatened.

As for Appel, she says she did nothing wrong, and she supposedly cut off all ties from Kotovos and is suing her herself! She says Kotovos "duped her into handing over her sweet secrets." Mmm hmm. Oookay. What is this, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter's Cupcakes? Sweet secrets?

Not to belittle the art of cupcake making, and obviously there's an art to business-handling that Appel really has down pat, because she's been so successful. But this is ridiculous. If this woman learned how to make cupcakes from Appel, and then went to Athens to start her own pastel-frosted cupcake business under a different name, that's called ... capitalism. Not "unfair competition." And if Appel wanted to teach someone her "sweet secrets," so what? After all, it sounds like we have her -- not the Abramses -- to thank for the cupcake-obsession epidemic anyway.

Do you think it sounds like the Magnolia Bakery owners have a case? Where do you get your favorite cupcakes?


Image via Rachel Kramer Bussel/Flickr

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