Cupcakes on Demand? Sounds Too Sweet to be True
A college student, well-acquainted with the vagaries of vending machine cuisine, conducts a cupcake taste-test.
photos by craig taylor
The Chatty Cupcake Bakery is defying the conventional and serving customers daily-made desserts via a cupcake vending machine. Rather than open a storefront, co-founder Ellan Toothman says the vending machine is an efficient and convenient way of getting her products from the oven to customers.
Located in the Galleria Mall in Mt. Lebanon, the machine’s menu rotates periodically. A single cupcake typically costs $3.50, or you can also grab a four-pack for $13. The machine accepts both cash and credit cards.
In an interview with KDKA-TV, Ella Gannis, co-owner of Chatty Cupcake Bakery, says that the cupcakes are homemade and contain no manufactured or processed ingredients.
Now the obvious question: how do they taste?
Please keep in mind, I’m a college student with a college palette on a college budget. My taste is simple and cheap. I’m not a dining critic like Hal B. Klein but rather an armchair food critic who scoops up every last rice kernel from the $5.39 bag.
For my first cupcake I went with the classic: Vintage Vanilla. I figured if this machine screws up a basic vanilla cupcake, there wouldn’t be much hope for the rest of the catalogue.
The cupcake was made with Madagascar pure vanilla and vanilla bean and was topped with vanilla European buttercream. As a fan of sweet buttercream icing, I would have preferred the topping to be a little more sugary. Overall, the cupcake was satisfactory but nothing sensational.
For my second choice, I went with something a little more exotic: the Burnt Almond Torte.
It’s a vanilla cupcake topped with almond buttercream and rolled in toasted candied almonds. I watched in anticipation as the robotic hand gently grabbed my dessert and delivered it to me. The burnt almond was a marginal improvement over the vanilla. While both used the same vanilla cake mix, the almond buttercream tasted sweeter. Combined with the fresh nuts sprinkled on top, the almond flavor was a little strong, but palatable. It’s a solid pick for any almond nut.
While not exactly a bakery on-demand, the Chatty Cupcake vending machine is a sweet idea that serves some solid treats. The $3.50 price tag is a little steep for a college student, but the convenience is undeniable.
If you’re in the area and want to see if there’s a weird, intriguing flavor that piques your interest, I’d say give it a shot.