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Posted at 4:25 PM ET, 08/25/2008

Queuing for Cupcakes

By Anne Kenderdine

Customers waited in line today for a taste of Hello Cupcake.

It was déjà vu all over again. Adorable shop opens hawking darling cupcakes. Washingtonians behave as if the Second Coming has arrived. Lines form out the door for the privilege of paying $3 a pop.

Like its forerunner, Georgetown Cupcake, which opened in February, Dupont's new Hello Cupcake got a frenzied reception at its debut today. Food editor Joe Yonan and I stopped by check out the newcomer.

Like Georgetown Cupcake, Hello goes beyond the usual vanilla and chocolate. The shop has a rotating list of fanciful combinations, including banana cake with peanut butter frosting, vanilla cake with strawberry buttercream and cinnamon chocolate with chocolate-chili ganache. Unlike Georgetown Cupcake, many come with cloyingly sweet names to match: Velvet Elvis, Princess and Maya Favorite Cupcake, respectively.


The shop will offer up to 15 different flavors each day. (Julia Beizer/washingtonpost.com)

At 12:45, the wait was about 20 minutes. (One clever employee passed out samples to keep the peace.) Disappointingly, when it was at last our turn, the two we wanted -- De Lime and De Coconut and You Tart! -- were sold out. So we bought six others: two to carry and eat while we strolled back to the office, and four to take to awaiting coworkers. The two for the road were keepers: Peanut Butter Blossom, chocolate topped with airy peanut butter frosting; and Triple Coconut, coconut cake with coconut cream cheese frosting and a sprinkling of toasted coconut. Although in the latter case, the cream cheese frosting was a little too liquid for mobile eating. Most of it slid off the cupcake, so we licked it right off the napkin.

Our coworkers were pleased, too. The cake was moist and the icing not too sweet on almost all of their four samples. (They especially liked that Velvet Elvis.) The main criticism was aimed at the icing on the Hello Cupcake "Original." The vanilla buttercream reminded one tester of the icing on a "less stale than usual" Safeway cake.

At least we got something. By mid-afternoon, everything was gone and antsy customers stood waiting for fresh cupcakes to be cool enough to frost. Our advice: Order in advance. Or hit Georgetown Cupcake (which after six months in business is an utterly civilized experience) until the crowds calm down.

-- Jane Black, Food section

By Anne Kenderdine  | August 25, 2008; 4:25 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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Comments

I was one of those "angsty customers" waiting in line in the afternoon to try some cupcakes (which I've been looking forward to all summer). I got there at 2pm, and was told that the cupcakes would be ready by 3pm. 3pm rolls around...no cupcakes. Even though there were cupcakes ready to be distributed, they wanted to wait until they had all of the flavors out. Finally, at 3:25 they started selling cupcakes again...without all of the flavors being ready. While the cupcakes I had were good, I don't know if they were worth the wait. Overall the people in the store were nice, but the woman in the pink shirt had an attitude I did not appreciate. I understand it's opening day, but they were not prepared.

Posted by: Racobs13 | August 25, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Jane,

I'm reminded of that phrase from SNL of days past...you suggest to go someplace else just because of a line?

Hmm, this flick "Star Wars" has a line, let's go see "Aguirre, the Wrath of God"

And besides, lines are fun sometimes, especially when you're not trying to get a passport. Being from New York City, I can assure you, first days are rough and if you want bragging rights and water cooler insights you're going to likely pay the price. It's a bumpy road. Smooth sailing, come back in a few weeks was always my experience.

Or, in the case of G'town C-cakes, when it's played out, perhaps. Though they're not half bad! Then again, looking at that line, a need has been met. And in the case of velvet Elvis, a prayer answered, Jane.

Posted by: Jonathan | August 25, 2008 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I feel for the person who spent their lunch hour in line on opening day! But a friend of mine told a different story. At 6:30, when--after it was clear Hello Cupcake was running out, and people in the back of the line wouldn't get any, they sent people out to the back of the line to apologize, hand out free cupcakes...and to thank people for standing in line. So, I'm not saying it's right, but at least they seem to be fast learners.

And from the one I had from my friend, the line is well worth the wait!

Posted by: Ann | August 25, 2008 11:01 PM | Report abuse

I prefer my food (cupcakes, burgers, etc.) without the side of b.s.

Posted by: KS | August 26, 2008 2:16 AM | Report abuse

omg who has so much time to waste that they'd stand in line for a cupcake?? time to get real lives, 22 year olds...

Posted by: crusty old fart | August 26, 2008 5:53 AM | Report abuse

Stuff white people like to do: Waiting in line 20 minutes to pay $3 for a cupcake.

Posted by: Kamal | August 26, 2008 7:08 AM | Report abuse

People, its not that hard to make cupcakes! Make a few and then have a cupcake party to share with friends or co-workers.

Posted by: JE | August 26, 2008 7:32 AM | Report abuse

The whole "gourmet" cupcake craze shows how silly DC is. Two cute girls open a place in Georgetown selling one cupcake for $3, & now it's spread into the rest of the city.
Do a taste test. I bet people won't be able to tell a $3 cupcake from the ones available at Safeway six for $4 or whatever.
Or ... open a popsicle stand, & sell 'em for $5 each. Cater to the silly people who go into debt to pay daily expenses. Retire in two years, laughing all the way to the bank.

Posted by: mickeyrad | August 26, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Might I suggest...

http://www.duncanhines.com/newDuncan/pub/products/cakes.asp

Posted by: Kev | August 26, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Velvet Elvis = awesome. Can't wait to go back and try more flavors after things have settled!

Posted by: CL | August 26, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I think the crowd was so bad not because we 22-year-olds (or 24-year-olds) are obsessed with overpriced treats but because DailyCandy's email yesterday was advertising the store's opening so LOTS of people saw it.

Posted by: linz | August 26, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I was one of those people who waited 45 mins in line yesterday for a cupcake - and while I wouldn't wait that long again for one of them, I must say the Original Yellow Cupcake with Vanilla frosting was delicious and I'll definitely be going back.

And for those who guffaw at paying $3 per cupcake, I like to think of it as buying a little something tasty, fun, and sweet - it's a nice treat and something different for those who in the area.

Posted by: Emily | August 26, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

They were good, but not wait-in-line-for-an-hour good. I had a You Tart! and it was lemony deliciousness.

Once the crowds die down, it will be a fun way to take a break from the workday.

Posted by: Jenn | August 26, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Wow, people get really upset about cupcakes. Come on people, lighten up! This was opening day for Hello Cupcake, of course dessert lovers all over town are going to be flocking to Dupont to see what the buzz is all about. Are you really that surprised there was, gasp, A LINE????!

And yes, you absolutely can tell the difference between a Safeway cupcake and a quality gourmet cupcake made from a quality gourmet baker. If you couldn't, these people wouldn't be in business.

When I stood in line, there were people of all ages, young girls, young guys, middle aged business men even, and women with graying hair. Cupcakes aren't only for "22 year olds," they're for people who enjoy something sweet once in a while. I was wondering why someone above made a weird stab at an age group, but then I scrolled up and saw the comment was made by a user named "crusty old fart," so, enough said. Relax. Enjoy life. Eat a cupcake.

And for those of you who do like cupcakes, I have a blog www.delleicious.blogspot.com where I review cupcakeries throughout MD/DC/VA, so you can check it out and find out who has the best cupcakes around where you live!

Posted by: Danielle of Delleicious DC | August 26, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Three words: chocolate-chili ganache. = One more word: mouthgasm.

Posted by: kel | August 27, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

You've got to be kidding me, a freaking cupcake store? Sure, there are enough idiots in DC with free time, expendable income and a complete lack of common sense to keep the place in business for a short while, but don't count on this place being around for the long haul.
They're cupcakes, people - CUPCAKES - a completely useless product that anyone can make at home for $3 a dozen. It doesn't take culinary skill to make cupcakes.
Idiots, all of you - the customers, the proprietors and the dumbass who signed off on the small business loan for this place. We'll all be paying to bail this place out when it goes belly up. And it will.

Posted by: Andy | August 27, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Wow, it takes pretty little to rile up the haters, huh? What do you care if we spent our lunch hour waiting for "just cupcakes"? Did we make YOU wait for an hour WITH us? No, so calm down. I don't berate you when you waste an hour watching some stupid TV show or sitting in some stupid restaurant -- so why do you care how my friends & I spent our afternoon?

I fail to see how cupcakes are targeted at any specific age group. I think cupcakeries just target (& attract) happy people -- & form these comments, it's clear to see which people are which. I'll be back to Hello Cupcake as soon as it slows down a bit. My rootbeer float cupcake was delish!

Posted by: Kate | August 27, 2008 9:44 PM | Report abuse

What's with all the hate toward Hello Cupcake? It's not much different than Starbucks and other businesses that provide over priced products to people looking for a quick (and relatively cheap and harmless) indulgence. And let's not forget that Starbucks is one of the most successful businesses in our country.

If you don't have something to contribute about the actual product, why post on this blog? Making digs at 22 year olds, or white people, or whoever else likes cupcakes contributes nothing to this blogs--or society.

As for me, I'll get back to eating the VERY delicious peanut butter blossom cupcake.

Posted by: Just be nice | August 28, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I can make cupcakes for myself at home from a box, but when I get those $3.00 cupcakes I pick the ones whose ingredients I'm not as likely to find in Safeway like Valrhona chocolate.

You can make the same argument about why do people go out to eat at fast food places, restaurants, etc. when they can make a meal at home for cheaper.

Posted by: Kat | August 28, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I had a blast waiting in line for cupcakes on opening day the crowd was cool,! They are great and I love the names as well. I would also like for you guys to try out a custom desserts boutique called Suga Chef! The service is good and prices reasonable. They even offer delivery! Check them out! Tell them Canela sent you!

http://www.sugachef.com/

Posted by: Canela Peluche | August 28, 2008 5:54 PM | Report abuse

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