Cupcakes: Delicious and Fun
By Jennifer Kirby
Special to The Pilot
Over and over - at weddings and birthday parties, corporate functions and baby showers - Amy Brown has witnessed this truth: Almost no one can resist customized cupcakes.
"I chose to go into this business because of how happy cupcakes make people," says Brown, owner of Carolina Cupcake Bar, a cupcake-catering company. "I know that sounds really cheesy, but everyone from little kids to grown men gets really excited when they find out they get to decorate their own cupcake and a bartender's going to serve it to them."
Carolina Cupcake Bar lets guests create their ideal cupcake from the bottom up: flavor, filling, icing, toppings.
"There are the conventional toppings, like chocolate chips, then the not-so-conventional, like gummy bears or Pop Rocks. Some people get one topping, other people want a dab of every single one. There are some non-icing-lovers out there, or I can load it on," says Brown. "It's a customized cupcake, so they get whatever they want."
Her personal favorite? A red velvet cupcake with vanilla whipped cream filling and cream cheese icing topped with rainbow sprinkles, Reese's Pieces, Nutter Butter cookies, one gummy bear and, of course, a smattering of "disco dust," also called edible glitter, which traditionally tops all of Carolina Cupcake Bar's creations just for the fun factor.
The experience is almost endlessly versatile. At a wedding, for example, the cupcake bar's table linens and the icing choices might incorporate the wedding's color scheme. A Christmas party might feature candy-cane toppings.
"People are always looking for baby shower activities and sometimes you're like, 'Oh, OK, that game again.' I'm not anti-games or anything, but [customizing cupcakes] is something guests enjoy and it's probably something they haven't done before," Brown says.
Once, after Carolina Cupcake Bar was a hit at an 8-year-old's birthday party, the boy's father called to book them for his wife's upcoming 40th birthday party. And at a recent Chamber of Commerce event, a constant crowd of business people surrounded the cupcake bar.
"We had a few people who were like, 'Oooh, it's not in my diet,' but by the end of the night they came back by," Brown says.
"Kids love the cupcakes and go crazy with the toppings, and we want them to," she adds, "but we can go to adults and they fit right in too."
When an event is still in the planning stage, it's not uncommon for clients to ask Brown to suggest which fillings, toppings and other cupcake options they might offer their guests - a request she's happy to oblige.
"Part of my job is to help them plan their event, and I love doing that," she says. "We are not just a cupcake-delivery service; we really are all about the experience for the guest. The client does not have to do a thing.
"It's tons of fun and provides great entertainment. We deliver, set up, the cupcake bartenders serve at the event and we break it down, leaving you to enjoy your event."
If there are leftovers, the cupcake bartenders ice them, top them and box them to be enjoyed later or sent home with guests as party favors.
Brown and her husband moved to Southern Pines three years ago from Austin, Texas. She quickly realized Carolina Cupcake Bar, which has a sister company in Austin, would be a good fit here.
"There's a huge variety of demographics, and people who love fun, unique experiences, which is what Carolina Cupcake Bar will do for your event," she says.
Her hunch was right. From the local bakery that makes her cupcakes to the party-goers who devour them, the community has been supportive and enthusiastic.
Carolina Cupcake Bar donates 5 percent of event proceeds to the Sandhills branch of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
"Hunger all over the world is a real issue, but it's important to not forget about people locally, right here in our county, that are without food," Brown says.
Every dollar donated to the food bank translates to about four meals' worth of food, so a Carolina Cupcake Bar-catered party for 25 people would provide the funds for about 30 meals.
In other words, this is an indulgence you can feel good about. So bring on the disco dust.
Jennifer Kirby is a local freelance writer.
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