I was outside replanting the window box that had fallen down during the storm Monday and my hands were full of dirt.
"I think it's somebody from F-F-Food Network" as Erin handed me the phone after I wiped my hands on my apron. She was clearly star struck and couldn't believe who was on the line.
The caller (I think she said her name was Jenny) cut right to the chase (which I appreciated). She liked the cupcake photos on our website, thought they were really cute, and wanted to know if we were interested in trying out for Cupcake Wars.
For the uninitiated, Cupcake Wars is a reality show on The Food Network, where four bakers go through a series of elimination challenges ending in one being chosen to have their cupcakes showcased at some big Hollywood event, and take home a check for $10,000.
Before you get all excited, three go home with nothing, the cameras focus on the drama and snarky comments, and the contestants mostly look like complete idiots in frilly aprons, miniskirts and stupid t-shirts. I've seen the show maybe a half dozen times, and I don't remember a single contestant's name or the names of any of the bakeries owned by the contestants.
It's not really about baking skill or artistry. It's about drama. In the real world, we HATE drama. We would never intentionally start making cupcakes just two hours before a large event.
But it is a chance to go on national television and lots of people watch the show.
Folks will argue that it would put us on the map with tons of exposure and free marketing. Yeah, maybe, but we're a small bakery in NORTHPORT, ALABAMA. With no plans to ship our proudcts or start a franchise; 99% of the exposure and marketing will be to people who would never, ever buy anything from us.
And we just won a National Contest (where we do NOT look like idiots), and a big new mixer (worth more than $10K).
It would also be a poor financial decision. I'm sure we'd be provided a stipend to cover basic expenses, but I am also sure it would not begin to cover all the costs associated with being on the show.
There is a price (and it's more than a stipend) associated with ...
- Totally distracting the entire staff for the duration of the commitment until the show is filmed and airs, which could be months.
- Paying my staff to practice baking various types of cupcakes that we probably wouldn't sell in the bakery, and when we should be making cakes and other pastries for customers.
- Paying for all the ingredients and overhead associated with said "practice."
- Paying to travel to the taping (Los Angeles, or wherever)
- Buying all the possible ingredients we might need and shipping them to the filming location.
- Paying an assistant to come with me.
- Paying more people to cover me and the assistant in the shop while we are gone.
- Having the staff be distracted by people who walk into the shop to "see" us (but not necessarily buy anything).
But no, I did the right "southern" thing. Using as sweet a voice as I could muster (without sounding the least bit snarky), I thanked her for thinking of us, told them we were flattered, and politely declined.