The cupcake to the New Yorker is quintessential to a whiny woman in a Woody Allen film. It just makes everything that much better. Seeing as there is a bevy of locations in New York City where you can divulge in your favorite type of cupcake, there is one place that many locals and visitors deem as the creme de la creme of the cupcake shops here. This of course, is Magnolia Bakery which has several different locations throughout the New York City area.
I became aware of Magnolia Bakery years ago due to my love of the HBO hit show and two time movie “Sex And The City” in which Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie visits the original Bleecker Street location in one of the episodes. I didn’t visit, however, until a friend of mine surprised me on my birthday five or six years back and took me to their location in the Upper West Side. The bakery itself had a warm and friendly vibe as well on top of the lovely people working there. Then of course, there was the taste of what they were preparing for everyone. All of it was delicious, from the decadent red velvet cupcakes to the world famous and insanely delicious Banana Pudding, Magnolia Bakery stepped up to the plate when it came to delicious treats designed for the masses.
I recently sat down with one of their fantastic and fabulous PR & Marketing Manager Riana Zimmerman to talk about Magnolia Bakery’s rise in the food world in general, from its one location to now internationally known brand. Take a look.
So how did the world famous Magnolia Bakery start?
So we started in 1996 at the Bleecker Street location in the West Village. It was a local bakery known for cupcakes and a bunch of other yummy desserts. And then “Sex And The City” mentioned it on one of their episodes and Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) ate one of our vanilla cupcakes with pink frosting. After that happened, it brought an insane amount of crazy lines to the Bleecker Street location and started the whole “cupcake craze”. Steve Abrams, who is our current CEO, bought the brand in 2007 and expanded it further in New York City while opening up locations in Chicago & Los Angeles and now we are franchising internationally. So the supposed “Cupcake Craze” that Magnolia Bakery started is taking over the world.
I, just like a lot of people, became knowledgeable of Magnolia Bakery through “Sex And The City”. What was the process in getting a huge show and star like Sarah Jessica Parker to visit and film at the original location?
I’m not entirely sure! This was just a local bakery that may have been on the show’s radar, or maybe it was on someone’s recommendation list. I just know that it completely changed the Magnolia Bakery brand once the episode aired.
To the people that live in the New York City area, they view Magnolia Bakery as licorice. Meaning you either love it or hate it, but the haters don’t hate the actual products but see it more as a tourist trap. What would you say to those people in order for them to overlook the droves of people and just enjoy what Magnolia has to offer?
Everybody has their own personal taste of course, but I don’t think it is a tourist trap. We are at the Upper West Side location right now, very local to the neighborhood and as you can tell it has a pretty normal crowd as does the Bleecker street location. I think the one that they are referring to is the one in Rockefeller Center, however I don’t think it’s a tourist trap. The fuss is for a reason, and I think we have great cupcakes and a full menu of 100 other desserts and customizable cakes and whatnot.
Now I have my personal favorite at Magnolia Bakery (Red Velvet Of Course!), but what would some of yours be?
I personally love our Banana cupcake with chocolate frosting. The icing is so rich and delicious that it really works well with the cupcake itself.
There was a lot of hoopla over the summer about the supposed “Cupcake Craze” being over as a big cupcake chain filed for bankruptcy. What are your thoughts on the craze in general?
I think there are places that do specialize in one off products like cupcakes. Luckily for us we are known for our cupcakes but we also have a ton of other desserts. Our Magnolia Bakery customers do buy a lot of cupcakes however they do also purchase a ton of our other products so it really is the best of both world when you come here. A cupcake is a perfect size portion for a snack during lunch or after you finish your dinner with friends, as opposed to a large slice of cake. It really has shown by how well all of our stores are doing with all of our products, so I don’t agree with it being a craze.
What big celebrities have you seen come into any of your locations?
So I actually saw Donatella Versace at our Bleecker Street location which was very exciting. Zoe Saldana was at our Los Angeles store which has been all over the news as she is pregnant and has visited us a couple of times due to her craving of cupcakes. Michelle Obama actually sent some of her secret service agents for our cupcakes while she was visiting in New York even!
The location size of Magnolia Bakery is growing each year, however do you think you’ll open up anymore in its hometown of New York City?
We aren’t focused on expanding domestically right now as we are focused on expanding internationally however down the line we are looking into opening up other locations.
What would you recommend for a first timer at Magnolia Bakery in trying?
Maybe you are going to think I have a love affair with chocolate but it’s OK if you do because it’s true and it’s real. A chocolate piece of cake with chocolate icing is so good. Of course, the world famous banana pudding. To top it off I would recommend our pumpkin cheesecake & pumpkin spice whoopie pies is essential to now as it is available throughout the fall.
Does Magnolia Bakery do deliveries?
We do! We have an online store which delivers all throughout the United States with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. You can order anything from cupcakes, cookies and bars so I definitely recommend if you aren’t local to a Magnolia Bakery you check out the online store to try something out!
What are you ultimately hopeful for the Magnolia Bakery brand and beyond?
We would love to see our international franchises succeed of course! We are excited about our growth, in fact we had a meeting recently to discuss 2015 and see what new items we can bring to you, your readers and the masses! Stay tuned!
Want to know more about Magnolia Bakery? Log on to their official website for locations, product information and more!