321 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10023
(212) 712-9800

New York is a pizza town and a burger town and a hot dog town and a coffee town… and in the last decade, it’s also become a cupcake town. Probably because it goes so well with the coffee (apparently not the burgers, though). Cupcakes have been popping up across our fair city like toadstools. Delicious, frosting-coated, sugary, sprinkle-laden toadstools that won’t get you high.

Crumbs is probably the most successful of the cupcakeries to come out of the Big Apple. Actually, it’s definitely the most successful, having expanded from the Upper West Side to about a dozen other NY locations and three other states. Indeed, with five more locations on the way, it’s spreading like chicken pox.

While local places only have to cater to the taste of their immediate clientele, chains have the habit of doing one of three things in order to be successful to a wide range of tastes. One, the limit their expansion to the same clientele who just so happen to live in a different city (Waffle House, Smith & Wollensky). Two, to expand their customer base, but at the expense of watering down the real flavor of the food, they dilute the menu to appeal to everyone (P.F. Chang's). Three, they expand the menu beyond the point of reason to cater to any possible person who could conceivably show up (TGIFridays). It appears that Crumbs has picked option one. Thank heaven.

The first thing I’m going to say is that my priority is the cupcake. Cookies and scones are nice, but, like Tic Tacs, they’re impulse-buy items. I have not yet meet anyone who goes “Oh, we simply MUST get the cookies for our party from Crumbs.” …and from the garish displays from their kiosk at the 2008 Emmy's party, neither have they.

Since Crumbs started on the Upper West Side, I decided to head north. Mr. Dogz, who lives nearby, agreed to sample their fare. For the record, I have never before this trip tried Crumbs. We tried four varieties, as you can see above. First, the Chocolate with Chocolate Frosting and the Vanilla with Vanilla Frosting. I was pleasantly surprised. I had predicted that expansion would be diluting, but I was wrong. The vanilla on vanilla was light and sweet, and, I thought, perfect. Mr. Dogz, who by his own admission, is not a big fan of non-chocolate cake, paid them a compliment, but moved on to the chocolate on chocolate, which was his favorite. I, on the other hand, tend not to like the chocolate cakes. Nevertheless, this particular cupcake was very (very) good. We also tried two specialty cupcakes, which were far larger than the regular ones (and more expensive), the Oreo Cookie, and the Baba Booey. The Baba Booey is chocolate cake topped with chocolate frosting, vanilla frosting and peanut butter chips with a cream inside. Tacky kitch name aside (one of a few such options here) it was actually pretty good, albeit heavy. The worst of them was the Oreo cookie cupcake which was simply far too heavy, far too sugary, and way too big. I think that the world needs to take a diet from Oreo themed non-Oreo products. Oreo ice cream, cereal, cakes, coffee flavorings... anyway.

So! Crumbs gets my vote for managing not to let chaindom water down its bakeryicity. Kudos. But if I start seeing their cupcakes being sold at gas stations next to Krispie Kreme doughnuts, I plan to revise that statement.

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