A Rich Lesson In Cupcakes

I have again begun to appreciate the complexity that it is to eat a cupcake.

It started, innocently enough, with a question. "How," asked Brian, a friend at work, "do you eat a cupcake?"

(I am wary of these "questions" at work from "friends" ever since being stung by this one: "Glenn, as an outsider, what is your opinion of the human race?!" Yikes. :)

The very fact of the cupcake question suggested that the three obvious answers -- remove crown from stem and eat them individually; tip cupcake sideways and have at 'er; and, dive into icing head on-- were not the right answers, so, it was learn-to-do-by-doing time. The crumbless floor was Brian's:

Step 1: Detach crown from stem
Step 2: Invert crown and reassemble by gently squishing upside-down crown and stem into shape of sandwich
Step 3: Eat, enjoy
Step 4: Tell someone else

Cookie sandwich discovery moment!

Once the laughter lessened, a rich lesson was left. And there's surely an even more concise way to tattoo this learning into the memory, but, basically, it goes like this: We don't know what we are looking for until it finds us.

That is, I was not walking around wondering, what is the best way to eat a cupcake? I did not sense that I did not know how to eat a cupcake. I didn't feel I was missing anything on that front. For me the question was settled, albeit a bit messily, that you eat the crown first and catch the crumbs in a cupped hand.

The question was settled until the new question was asked. How do you eat a cupcake? And if you are like the group of us initiated into this new sandwich-mystery method, the moment of realization that there was a new way, a fun way, a way to eat a cupcake that releases an even amount of icing until the very last bite, sans crumbs, that moment was pure childhood. Or, even better, a visitation of second childhood as we asked, dumbfounded, why didn't we realize this before?!

So, yes, the question that unleashed all of this was how do you eat a cupcake? But there is another question lurking, a question familiar to those who study innovation: what is the real job of a cupcake?

It's a snack, we might say. Gets rid of hunger. It's a sugar rush. It's a treat after a meal, etc.

But maybe the job of a cupcake is to bring us together and make us laugh and feel happy as we discover how to eat it properly. Maybe its job is to point out that even though we are content, we can be happier in the time it takes to eat a cupcake. Sure, that's a lot to ask of the simple cupcake. But, maybe, we just weren't asking it the right question.

Maybe, as Brian says as the final word in the Twitter back-and-forth above, it is all about the cupcake sandwich.

Punctuation marks!


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