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What Do Cupcakes and Millennials Have in Common?

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Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past year, chances are you’ve noticed the recent cupcake craze. I didn’t really understand it, until about a week ago when my Boss brought in cupcakes from Sprinkles in Palo Alto. As soon as I bit into the chocolaty gooey amazingness, I knew it was worth every one of the 500 plus calories that were in it. This was no ordinary dessert. Yes, this cupcake offered something that a chocolate chip cookie, double fudge brownie, and piece of funfetti cake could not. This new wave of decatent desserts, reminded me of something else: Millennials. I know what you are thinking, and despite waking up at 6 a.m. today, I am not sleep deprived. Here’s what I think we have in common:


They Influence Each other: Is it just me, or did 1 cupcake shop open, and then 500 others like it open as well? This is similar to how Millennials influence each other (with the recent election being the best example). Growing up on Facebook, Myspace, and Linked-in, Millennials are heavily influenced by their peers, and always connected with one another. 


They’re Multi-Taskers: One single cupcake can do many things, from cheering someone up to satisfying a sweet tooth and making the perfect wedding dessert. Millennials, who have a difficult time remembering what life was like before Email on cell phones, have also mastered the art of doing multiple things at once. They’re often spotted checking their emails, while talking on the phone, Facebooking, and updating their twitter status.


They Find a Bigger Purpose: Millennials are always looking for ways to help others and impact the world around them. Take the recent popularity of green jobs, for example, which recent graduates are fighting to obtain after college. They use social media to their advantage, drawing awareness to many social and political issues. With a few exceptions of course, people rarely make cupcakes just for fun. They’re used for bigger things such as celebrating a wedding or friends birthday, or bringing a smile to someones face. 


They’re Nurtured and very protected: You don’t just plop some dough on a pan, let it cool and its done. You have to add just the right ingredients, give them a perfect swirl of icing and then add a little design at the top. And the work isn’t done after they are baked, you have to take special care to make sure they’re not smudged, toppled or smeared. This is similar to Millennials, who are known for being overly nurtured and protected by their parents. Millennial Parents, are very involved in their childrens’ lives giving them a strong sense of self-worth and entitlement. 


They work best in groups: Honestly, have you ever given someone just 1 cupcake? Chances are you give them a bunch of cupcakes (or at least three). Millennials also work best together, attending schools that encourage group work and collaboration. Their connection to one another through technology, gives them a preference for group decision making and social networking. 


They are often seen as a threat to older generations: Cupcakes, like Generation Y, pose a definite threat to their [cookie] predecessors. They enter the market with high expectations, changing the rules and with an apt for the latest technologies.  Businesses have been forced to re-vamp their ways to better embrace and understand this new generation. [Mrs Fields]


They have high hopes: Armed with college degrees and the self-entitlement given by their parents, Millennials graduate ready to take on the world (and their CEO). Umm, have you ever seen a flat cupcake? I didn’t think so. The higher the frosting, the better! (Just not when it’s so high that it topples over and makes you sick). 


They’re Pricier: When I was younger, my friend and I had a cupcake stand, selling them for 25 cents each. I may have to start one now, seeing as they’re going for up to 5 dollars a cupcake. Similarly, Millennials are entering the market expecting a higher base salary directly out of college. They’ve certainly taken pay cuts with the current economy, but high expectations remain the same.


They celebrate diversity: If you think you can open a successful cupcake shop serving only vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, think again. Cupcake shops now offer a variety of flavors from Lemon Ginger to Chai Latte. Millennials, (for the most part)  have been raised to celebrate diversity and be tolerant of all races and cultures. If you attended any of the recent Prop 8 Rallies, I’m sure you noticed the large amount of young protesters speaking out against discrimination. Coupled with their passion for politics, this is making great changes that will be witnessed for generations to come.

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