The cupcake-as-symbol-of-childhood is powerful: It's wrapped in the cultural definition of what it means to be a good mother, something that's a moving target in this society, said Kathryn Oths, an anthropologist at the University of Alabama who studies food and culture.White? There's a racial angle to this?
"I don't have children. But I guarantee that if I did, I'd make them cupcakes for their birthdays," she said. "It's just ingrained in us as the proper thing to do."
So when that cultural norm is threatened by cupcake bans, she argued, people feel compelled to rally to its defense.
"Think about it. Banning cupcakes is almost like an assault on the national identity," Oths said. "It comes at a time when there are fears of terrorism and the immigration brouhaha that they're 'watering down' our traditional American culture -- meaning middle-class white America -- that's slipping out of our grasp."
Every day, we're told: More children are dangerously overweight. More children are diabetic. More children have life-threatening allergies to everything from peanuts to wheat to milk. More children sit around watching TV and playing video games. And, as many schools know, every classroom is divided between the cupcake-haves, the ones whose mothers dutifully lug in trays of them, and the cupcake-have-nots, whose mothers can't afford to or don't know that it's expected.Mothers? How about fathers?
Epperson used to tutor a child from an immigrant family who was saving every penny she could find in order to buy her own cupcake mix. She wanted her mom to bring the treat so she could fit in. "That broke my heart," Epperson said.
You know what? I say ban the cupcakes.