Unpalatable: a lesbian quest for cupcakes

Update:  I edited out a sentence that was offensive to someone whom I did not mean to offend. 

I am running out of bakeries to patronize.

First, there was The Priory on the Northside.  I loved their baked goods, but disliked their tactics opposing the drink tax which cost our community an ally.

Today, I did it again when I heard that a gay-owned business, Dozen, was sponsoring a cupcake gorging contest.  Apparently, the owner thought causing people to vomit is a great way to increase sales. 

You know me … I had to say something. I thought it was a gross idea and potentially harmful to encourage gluttony and over-consumption. Seriously, there's nothing wrong with a cupcake or two.  But the imagery of women shoving dozens of cupcakes into their mouths is revolting.  I hate those segments on the news, especially when followed by a report on the obesity epidemic. 

Dozen's owner was incensed that I had an opinion contrary to his business interest.  Apparently, you aren't allowed to say critical things about gay owned businesses.  I've been through this with local bar owners and I can safely say that they have a much better sense of humor than bakers. 

Here's a brief sample:

This is the kind of slam of my business and of me that I say is over the top and dramatic. As a gay person new to Pittsburgh (only 2 years here, via Chicago) I have never experienced the harsh judgmentalism anywhere else I've lived. In a small city like this, I think it is totally inappropriate and sets a bad example.

Frankly, you should be ashamed of yourself. You might want to stick with your political commentary, which you are very good at, and try to be more supportive of community.

What did I say to provoke such a reaction?  That I might not patronize his business.  That's it.  He said I was being overly dramatic.  A cupcake orgy isn't dramatic?  I mean the next step on the drama continuum would be to come up with a red velvet cupcake spiked with Midol and market it as PMS cure.

Then he said my arrogance was unpalatable — get it?  That is the best insult ever.  Not even the Christian fundies have zinged me like that.

You obviously think of yourself as the most important person in the LGBT community in Pittsburgh and that everyone follows what you tell them to do. I encourage you to add that into your post and see how the community you seem to rule over responds.

Your arrogance is unpalatable. I've never known someone who thinks they wield so much power over others as you just suggested you do. Frankly, Dozen has seen the success it has because we are very nice to people and refrain from saying bad things about others.

Now I'll admit to being a bit of an elitist and I can condescend with the best of them, but we all know that none of you ever does what I tell you to do.  All I said to James was that rather than engaging me to resolve the difference of opinions, he pissed me off.  Every Business 101 major learns that one angry customer's stories will undo the stories of 20 happy customers.  I was a poli sci major and I know that for crying out loud. 

Since I think being called unpalatable is the best bitchy thing I've heard in months, I'm not even going to comment on the hypocrisy of his last sentence.  Oops.

Seriously, I know this is his living, but any reasonable gay person should resent the implication that we aren't allowed to say anything critical of gay owned businesses .  That's patently absurd.  I'm a big champion of supporting gay owned everything, but that doesn't put them above an honest critique. Dozen works the lesbian market like no other gay owned business in town.  It is a good marketing strategy if you are in the market for cupcakes.  And if you aren't, just hit delete.  But when you wade into a predominantly lesbian venue, you should expect that the mouthy ones are often coming from a feminist perspective (not all of us mind you). 

I know few feminists that would be supportive of an anything-eating contest.  It hits a lot of buttons — mass consumption, health issues, body image, eating disorders, etc.  I'm just saying you have to take the bad with the good.  If a cupcake eating contest annoys a few lesbians, you'll probably ride it out. 

I did learn that cupcakes are not big in Europe.  Dr. Bozena Zdaniuk, who famously compared the cupcake eating contest to a tequila drinking contest in terms of health impacts, had this to say:

Girl, you made me chuckle!

Thank Goddess I am from Europe. No one over there would touch such a crappy baked concoction as cupcake.

Now this is where you can call me arrogant because of my conceit that everyone loves cupcakes. Right? 

Ledcat tells me that I have to play nice or we aren't going to have anywhere to buy bread.  I've also been arguing with my former veterinarian, the heroin addict across the street and a Libertarian.  Oh, and PennDOT, of course.  Now I need PennDOT's help to deal with the heroin addict so I might have screwed myself.  I'll figure something out.

So, should you go to Dozen?  Sure.  The cupcakes are tasty (sorry, Bozena, but I hate croissants — all that flaking makes me shudder).  I often implore you to spend your precious disposable income at LGBT owned businesses.  Yes, he did slam Pittsburgh as being judgmental, but he's a little bit right about that … we are good for excluding people from over the bridge. 

I'd advise you skip the cupcake eating contest, but only because it is kind of gross, not out of any sense of telling you what to do.  Not that you listen to me. 

My coworker took sympathy on me and made up a list of bakeries which I can patronize without compromising my indignant huff.  I sure hope they are palatable! 


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  • Why would you pay $4.00 for a designer cupcake anyway? I don't think you are losing out on much in this deal. Just go to Giant Eagle. They have a union and employ disabled people if you need to ease your conscience. I also think they support Art for Aids.

  • I'm not a feminist, but I agree that bingeing on cupcakes seems like a stupid idea. The Europeans (for once) have the right idea. Why are all the gay owned businesses promoting things that bad for people such as alcohol, refined sugar and sex with strangers? What ever happened to owning a regular store that sells shoes or used CDs? At least you aren't trying to coerce people into paying for some of the stuff you dish out on this blog. Jesus Christ, people.

  • Is judgementalism a word? It is annoying when people come to our town and expect us to just sashay up to their counters with our shekkels and then turn around with a little snap of the fingers because they aren't getting their own way. Go the fuck back to Chicago and take your nancycakes with you! Or start your own blog. We'll be too fucking busy following PghLesbian's commands to come to your shop anyway. Fuck off!

  • Giant Eagle does not suppot Art for Aids, you twit. They just fucked over Lawrenceville by closing their store. At least Dozen Bakery (try getting the name right, Sue) hires local Lawrenceville people and donates to local organizations, instead of just pacifying the homo groups. What an idiotic thing to write about. Did you even notice the Republican Convention or were you too busy pissing off Penndot?

  • Can you use sashay as a verb and nancycakes as a slam in the same comment? I did follow the RNC. Do you really need my comments? Vote Obama. And Giant Eagle does some good stuff and they do make good cake. I'll have to try their cupcakes.

  • Is this really the “issue of the week” for our community? A business owner snarks on a blogger and we're supposed to care? He's an idiot who needs a Dummies Guide to Customer Service. You need to start blogging about stuff that matters instead of this lameass crap. Not cupcakes. Step up, PghLesbian.

  • I've got quite a few comments for this post:
    1. The “official sponsor of the queer list”??? I really take issue with this. I originated this list over four years ago, and maintain it daily–all volunteer–as a community resource. I forward along any items sent to me that either concern or may be of interest to the queer women on the list without moderating. I have sent out quite a few items about Dozen because, as you note, James is a smart businessman who reaches out to various outlets. He also has donated product, time and money to all sorts of charitable organizations in Pittsburgh–both in the queer and the general communities. He's sponsored events for the lesbian community and offered free meeting space and snacks. I've taken advantage of that a few times for various events I've undertaken.
    But, to say that Dozen is practically the official sponsor of the list completely minimizes everything I've tried to do–community BUILDING, by the way. I totally resent and am offended by that statement.
    YOU have sent out hundreds of messages to the queer list about various events and programs and opinions–both queer-specific and not. Does that mean that you're the official sponsor of the queer list? So, when do I get all the kickbacks from all my official sponsors?
    2. This “cupcake eating contest” is an event for the general public. Not directed at the womens or the lesbian community. This was made clear to you when you started the tirade against it yesterday. You're being misleading.
    3. This “cupcake eating contest” is a three-minute event. To say that it's a scourge on the Pittsburgh public health *is* overly dramatic.
    ***and, by the way, it's sexist for James to say you were being dramatic, but not offensive for you to call him “bitchy”? (Pot, Kettle).
    3. You represent this as James slamming you because you made a harmless comment to him about your public health concerns, when what actually happened was that you sent out multiple messages to the queer list (that one that's officially sponsored by Dozen, right?) saying that it/he was disgusting, sexist, negative, etc.
    4. In the past you've commented about enjoying cupcakes, enjoying Dozen, and even in the post you say you want a bakery source. So, you're responsible enough to consume baked goods, but the rest of us need you to champion for us so we don't overindulge in cupcake consumption?
    This is, by far, the most ridiculous debate I've seen you engage in. I'm disgusted, and it's not the cupcakes that are upsetting my stomach.

  • Sorry, Anonymous…but the Giant Eagle Foundation DOES support Art for AIDS, now known as Celebrate Life, Celebrate Art.
    I am a fundraiser and grant writer for Persad Center, so I can say this with 100% confidence.

  • I think it's a well known fact that Sue is not only dramatic…but HYSTERICAL when it comes to non-issue debates. I think most of the lesbian community follows her blog like they would a trainwreck. I feel awful for James, but it is rather funny how she gets her panties in a bunch.

  • Well said, Erin. I 100% agree. I've read all the posts and I saw nothing wrong with what Dozen is trying to do. It's a lil contest, nothing more. Let's not read too much into EVERYthing.
    And on a personal note- As a person fighting this obesity epidemic we are having, I can honestly say an anything-eating contest was not ever something that pushed me over the “fat” edge. How about fighting the schools that sell Hostess Cupcakes in their vending machines? Or large plates of french fries in their cafeteria's? That would've helped me more than a ban on cupcake eating contests.

  • People! We are talking about cupcakes! Please chill out… We have more important things to freak out about like the McCain/Palin ticket. I can't believe someone actually wrote for Sue to choke on her own bile because of a cupcake controversy. What the piss? Get a life!

  • 10 + people have this much to say about cupcakes and the title of “Silly Bitch Queen” goes to Sue? Hey, now. The last time I checked, people just ignored things they thought were ridiculous and didn't send email links to highlight them. It makes no sense, unless you really want people to pile on the nasty. Did anyone stop to think about that?

  • It is fascinating watching all of you engage in very same behavior that you condemn. Do you really stand by and say NOTHING when someone tells one of your own that she should die because she has an opinion, even if its an opinion that you don't support? What the fuck is wrong with you women? Is that what feminism looks like in our community? You pile a lot of shit on Sue over cupcakes but say NOTHING about the person wishing her death. That's beyond frightening, ladies. You are one scary bunch of haters.

  • Jeezus!
    Really, people. We're talking about one discussion about CUPCAKES for crissakes! Whether you're annoyed with Sue or James or me or one of the many Anonymouses, come on!
    You wish death on someone because she's cranky?
    I was annoyed with the post and that there was even a “controversy” to begin with, but this is absurd–not to mention scary and creepy.
    Can we never actually have a discussion with different viewpoints without it devolving into name-calling (and worse)?

  • I smell a rat. If this is how the friends of James and Errin behave, maybe Sue is onto something. Jesus K. Christ. I'm somewhat embarrassed to be part of the queer events crowd. You ladies are a nasty bunch.

  • Wait. Someone leaves a nasty comment on a blog anonymously, and somehow they're automatically a friend of mine (or of James)?
    What the bleep!?
    And, why do I keep responding?!

  • Lezbos and cupcakes and sugar and kittens
    Sue Kerr speaks out and her behind gets bittened
    Sugar crazed homos, we must clip their wings
    These are a few of my leave fafore things

  • Stop. Stop. Stop. Sue is doing a wonderful job in keeping us updated with the issues we face as a community which is both commendable and appreciated. Ehrrin is one of the most important organizers that we have in our community so that we can actually meet face-to-face from time to time. I wouldn’t have met many of you without her. Dozen bakery is gay owned, gay operated, and well…pretty damn gay in that good ol’ cupcake kind of way. The fact of the matter that this is a “cupcake eat cupcake” world and if we keep acting as we have the world of hot dogs will prevail. The End.
    –A lover of cupcakes, cupcake makers, and admirable women.

  • I think the point is that Sue took something innocuous and transformed it into a major political debate. It would have been one thing to use the contest as the impetus to make a claim about the culture of obesity and the American obsession with dessert. But if you look closely at her original post you will see that she makes it personal by saying that she wouldn't patronize Dozen as a result. THAT is where she failed at being a commentator and became hater. That is what people are responding to here.
    Sue may be doing a wonderful job of keeping you updated on issues that face “our” community and I commend her for putting her efforts into that. But Dozen is a Pittsburgh based business that has supported the gay/lesbian community since its inception with thousands of dollars worth of donations to many events, including the Lambda Gala, Gay Prom, Persad, Pittsburgh Aids Task Force, and many others. That is why it was very hard for me to see what she wrote about Dozen. Why go there? Why not write about the many supportive things Dozen has done for the community. This contest is nothing but fun and does not aim to hurt anyone. In fact, it also will be raising money for the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank. But she never mentioned that!
    I have made it a mission of mine to give back in a big way. And as Dozen grows I hope to give back in even bigger ways. I hope that what I give to the community will prove to be more valuable than ranting and raving negatively about others.
    Thank you to those of you who see through her. Your many supportive emails to me since yesterday have made me feel much better about all this craziness. I ask that we all just move on to more important issues. Let's not let someones hateful words work against us.

  • Having actually been a reader of Sue's blog for years now I can say that, yes, Sue blogs about LGBT issues and politics, but also food, and music, and personal stuff, and all kinds of things small and large.
    So, as appalled as I am by the personal attacks, I'm also appalled by those who believe it is their duty to sanction what a person should and shouldn't blog about.
    Try blogging consistently for a few years. You'll then know that some days you write LARGE about the BIG ISSUES and other days you blog about a bit of flour, sugar and butter (ironically, it's often the latter posts that cause the most fuss).

  • this is fabulous.
    on a completely unrelated note, dozen will not continue with their success much longer. this isn't a threat, it's just a note to anyone who still wants to go there while it's still “cool.”
    on a possibly related note, should i mention they fired a dishwasher with a medical condition for not being fast enough? why hire the person in the first place?
    and to james, personally, it's a shame you have to take constructive criticism and turn and throw it back as personal attacks on a person and an entire city. this isn't the first time you've been caught sending attacks like this. perhaps you should try baking some cupcakes that aren't so dry?

  • Hhhmmm…sounds like sour grapes. Are you, perhaps, the disgruntled dishwasher? I never saw any “constructive criticism” coming from Sue, just a bunch of hot air. Everyone loves dozen's cupcakes and they will continue to be successful. In fact, this little debate has just gotten them plenty more publicity. I think I'll go there tomorrow.

  • Sue, you should use your powers for good, not evil.
    The entire idea of a bake shop/bakery is gluttony, eating things that taste delightful and decadent not nutrition or public health. If weight or eating disorders is a personal cause or concern of yours why don't you reach out to the many people struggling with this and leave the bakery owners to do what they do. Which is sell baked goods such as CUPCAKES!!!
    Do you have a support group for those with weight issues like yourself? Was their a link anywhere within your comments for those whom you are concerned. Most people frequent Dozen's Bake Shop for enjoyment, not against their will.
    Thank god your poli-sci major didn't get you far or we would have another dictator on our hands. Can those who can afford to gorge ourselves be allowed to do so without a cup cake ban? I eat healthy and exercise hard to pay for my occasional bakery sins.
    Are you by any chance a vegetarian or vegan? Well then how healthy can you be? I am and while I make it a point to eat healthy on a daily basis I need junk from time to time, James is a ray of sunshine for us vegans needing a fix.
    What are you doing regarding your own weight issues? Why don't you organize something positive with actions instead of words. Instead of bitching about the cup cake eating contest why don't you organize a walk-a-thon or race as a counter to the “evil” contest.

  • Interesting. The dishwasher that I let go knew full well that she was not able to do the job we needed. She still comes to the bakery and we all love her to death. Jobs are jobs and they have to get done no matter what.
    Get the facts…
    whoever you are, you really have it out for me! You must be one of my former employees! Probably the one I fired because you had a real bad attitude and everyone else told me they couldn't stand working with you. That's not be mean, just honest.
    Also, interesting that we have won awards for our cupcakes. The dry ones you don't like.

  • Sue,
    Don't let these “haters” get to you. You should be able to blog about anything your heart desires. This is America! If Dozen Bake Shop can have a gluttonous eating contest then why can't you have opinions about it. What would Abraham Lincoln do? Anyway, when people get pissy about things that I write on my blog I like to listen to the Eminem song “Criminal”. Here is the chorus:
    I'm a criminal
    Cuz everytime I write a rhyme
    These people think it's a crime to tell 'em what's on my mind
    I guess I'm a criminal
    I don't gotta say a word
    I just flip 'em the bird and keep goin'
    I don't take shit from no one
    Listen to Slim, Sue! “Don't take shit from no one!”
    God Bless us! Everyone!

  • I give Sue lotsa kudos and blog cred for not censoring any of these remarks. I think it's a testament to her character and commitment to free speech.
    There are a lot of big babies in the blogging community that would do not only that — but threaten to sue (no pun intended). Ask me how I know!
    Rock on, Sue.
    Love you too, Gab.
    To the haters: Let them eat cupcakes!

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