How many ingredients does it take to make a cupcake?

I recently had the (dis)pleasure of eating some supermarket made cupcakes.  When I bit into it and thought “This tastes like shit”, I inspected the label to ensure there was not in fact, shit in my cupcake.  Unfortunately, I can’t really be sure as I cannot decipher the list of chemical compounds displayed.  But I was so shocked at the LENGTH of this list that I had to take a picture and compare this recipe to that of the Queen of Cooking and Fake Happiness – Martha Stewart.

So, here’s the label off the supermarket cupcakes with the full list, spelled out below, for visual impact.  I’ve included commentary on some of the extra special items. Beneath all this, you’ll find the ingredient list for Martha’s comparable cakes.

Supermarket Cupcakes

Fresh Made Finds but no shit


White Cake

  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Enriched Wheat Flour Bleached
  • Soybean Oil
  • Dry Egg Whites
  • Propylene Glycol Mono & Diesters with BHT & Citric Acid as Preservatives
  • Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Alumnium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate)
  • Food Starch (Modified Dry Egg Yolk, Dextrose, Mono & Diglycerides, Salt, Nonfat Milk Solids, Sorbitan MonoStearate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Polysorbate 60, Xantham Gum, Wheat Starch, Propylene Glycol, Sulfites.092905 – D,L,J)
    • Polysorbate 60 “can cause detrimental reproductive effects, organ toxicity and cancer in high doses.  However, the FDA designated the chemical as safe for limited use in food.” More here.

Buttercreme Icing

  • Powdered Sugar
  • Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Palm Oil w/ Mono & Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Water, Food Starch Modified Guar Gum, Corn Syrup, Salt, Natural & Artificial Flavor)
    • Um, where’s the butter in the buttercreme?

When Decorated (which they are)

  • Corn Starch
  • Glucose
  • Alkalized Cocoa Powder
  • Soy Lecithin
  • FD&C Artificial Colors (Red #40, Yellow #5, Red #3, Yellow #6, Blue #1, Caranauba Wax)

When Decorated Colors (though written by Yoda, I think also applies this does)

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • FD&C Artificial Colors (Red #40, Yellow #5, Red #3, Yellow #6, Blue #1, Blue #2)
  • Modified Corn Starch
  • Vegetable Gum and/or Guar Gum
  • Citric Acid
  • Phosphoric Acid
  • Less than 1/10 of 1% Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate as Preservative
    • “When combined with…citric acid (which it is)…the preservative converts to benzene, a carcinogen reported to cause leukemia, DNA damage…” and the list goes on here. Hey, at least it’s less than 1/10 of a percent.


White Cake

  • Cake Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Milk
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Egg Whites

Buttercream Icing

  • Butter
    • Likely included because Martha knows how to spell ‘cream’
  • Confectioner’s Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract

I imagine supermarkets use these weird ingredients to ensure extra long shelf life.  And maybe all of the items here are completely safe to consume.  Plus it’s likely cheaper to produce.  I’ve even heard, anecdotally, a sentiment of “why would you MAKE cupcakes, when you can just BUY them?”

Well, for one, if you can’t handle mixing 8 ingredients, there may be bigger fish to fry.  But two, the cheap ones taste just like what I’d imagine a stew of the above ingredients would – shit.

3 thoughts on “How many ingredients does it take to make a cupcake?

  1. I am proud to have raised a son who knows and appreciates the difference between fake and real food! But, when it comes to word choices describing the taste of toxic putrid pucks better know as supermarket cupcakes I fear I failed!

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