Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In Line at Sprinkles Cupcakes

This past Saturday I went all the way down the Peninsula to check out what all the fuss was about over Sprinkles, the cupcake store from Beverly Hills with the Hollywood friends like Oprah, Tom Cruise and that actress from “Gossip Girl.”

Sprinkles opened its first Northern California outpost last month at the Stanford Shopping Center and supposedly has been attracting long lines. The line didn’t look that bad when I arrived, but here’s my blow-by-blow anyway:

12:42 p.m.—Here I am at the back of the line. What’s nice is that Sprinkles has a glass wall so you get to watch the people inside and start thinking about what you want to order as you wait. Hmm, mocha or lemon ginger?

12:47 p.m.—I reach the point right outside the door. There’s a sign that asks you to keep the door shut in order to “maintain the freshness” of the cupcakes inside. And they’re really serious about it. When I finally got inside, I kept hearing the girls behind the counter yell at people to keep the door closed.

12:48 p.m.—It only takes a minute before I was able to get inside and get a better look at the interiors, which has a really nice, open feel. There’s a bar with stools along the glass wall where people can sit and eat their cupcakes. At the far end is a whole display of Sprinkles items to purchase, including cupcake mixes and T-shirts. Talk about branding!

12:51 p.m.—After quickly looking over the cupcakes, Melissa behind the counter takes my order. I know her name because it’s on my receipt. I started to rattle off some cupcake flavors when Melissa tells me that not all cupcakes are available every day. To know which ones are available, I have to look for the ones with the dot next to them. Ugh, more studying. I end up making some snap decisions. I hope I ordered the right ones.

I walk by to the register and notice these cute little cupcakes. Turns out they’re for doggies. I know, right?

12:53 p.m.—The cashier calls my name and then I walk up to pay for the three cupcakes I ordered ($3.25 each). I pay $9.75 and am told to wait for my box to be beautifully wrapped and presented, but my box came just as I was getting my change. Here it is in this simple brown box.

So it really was only about a 10-minute wait to order and get my cupcakes; not as bad as other lines I’ve stood in for this blog. ;-)

I spent the rest of the day tasting the cupcakes. First up was the cinnamon sugar, which I ate at Sprinkles before I left. I liked the idea of cinnamon but the cupcake looked the smallest of the three I purchased. The taste? Oh man, it was sad. The cake itself was moist but kind of dough-ey, almost like a doughnut. It wasn’t super sweet, which is good because I don’t like really sweet things and I heard Sprinkles’ cupcakes were super sweet. The sad part was the icing, which was oddly dry, which gave the cinnamon-frosting almost a cardboard-like feel. Plus, that weird little Sprinkles dot on the top is hard like candy and not very tasty.

I walked around the mall and then walked along University Avenue to visit my favorite fro-yo shop, Red Mango, since they still haven’t opened an outlet closer to my home. I got a small cup of the green tea yogurt with watermelon toppings, and ate it along with the dark chocolate cupcake from Sprinkles.

The dark chocolate was Ah-MAZE-ing. It looked pretty simple, but the frosting was like a chocolate mousse, and again, not super sweet but balanced. The cake itself was moist and slightly crumbly, so it was messy eating this since the cupcake was topped with chocolate sprinkles as well. But a good kind of messy, if you know what I mean. (Sorry, Red Mango guys who had to clean up all the chocolate crumbs off of your spotless white table and floor!)

Finally near the end of the day I caught the Caltrains back to San Francisco and on my way back I ate my last Sprinkles cupcake, the strawberry. Yuuuuccck! I think I’ve discovered the cupcake that gave Sprinkles its super-sweet reputation. The strawberry frosting was like candy and achingly sweet. Even though it had a nice strawberry aroma, nothing about the cake tasted or looked like strawberry. Even worse was the fact that the cake had this odd beige color to it. You’d think a strawberry cupcake would look pink, but it was beige. And, oh yeah, it also had that stupid inedible candy dot on top. Not very appetizing and I actually couldn’t finish the cupcake.

As my train arrived in San Francisco, I got rid of my brown Sprinkles box, tossing away any remnants of my Sprinkles Saturday of cupcakes (and fro-yo). My only memories of the day are these pictures and the little cake belly that developed around my waist as I ate three cupcakes within two hours.

Sprinkles may have the brand-appeal and is definitely suited for the Stanford Shopping Center, but I don’t think it’s the best cupcakes around. With Kara’s Cupcakes also open at the nearby Town and Country Village, I doubt you’ll have to worry about any super long lines in the future at Sprinkles.

Sprinkles Cupcakes, 393 Stanford Shopping Center, Palo Alto. PH: 650.323.9300.


Anonymous said...

I can't wait for Kara's to open up in Santana Row soon (along with Red Mango). I was tempted to drive to try Sprinkles but it just didn't seem worth it (the drive, the wait, and maybe the cupcakes).

Single Guy Ben said...

Definitely try one of the filled cupcakes at Kara and the chocolate with fleur de sel. They're smaller than Sprinkles but worth it. (Plus you can buy more!) ;-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was some cupcake-binge, Single Guy! Are you still bouncing off the walls? Me? After my cupcake-a-thon, I craved pretzels. ;)

Anonymous said...

lol chef ben gets a cupcake belly! well at least you found one that you liked, thanks for taking one for the team so that we know not to get cinnamon or strawberry... I saw mix for these cupcakes at Williams-Sonoma, but it was kinda expensive even with the discount!