Somebody should write a book on America's serial fixations with one type of dessert, and what each says about the periods of infatuation. The romance with frozen yogurt in the 1980s (think TCBY) gave way to a love affair with donuts in the 1990s (hello, Krispy Kreme), before the gourmet cupcakes in the 2000s. New York City's Magnolia Bakery is widely credited for firing up the last trend, thanks to a cameo in Sex and the City in the summer of 2000.
A year ago, The Wall Street Journal pronounced that "the gourmet-cupcake market is crashing," citing the financial travails of maybe the poster child of that market, Crumbs Bake Shop, another New York City-based purveyor of gourmet cupcakes that went public on the Nasdaq exchange in 2011. Like Krispy Kreme before it, Crumbs expanded too quickly, and its shares had fallen from $13 in mid-2011 to $1.70 by April 2013.
On Monday, Bloomberg Businessweek published what might be considered the gourmet cupcake market's obituary, focused on Crumbs. The high-end cupcakerie, which has closed 17 locations since last year, is now trying to reverse its fortunes by selling its high-priced cupcakes —which cost up to $4.50 a piece — and other baked goods in lowly supermarkets and club retailers like BJ's Wholesale.
What soured consumers on gourmet cupcakes? "It's a short-term trend and we're starting to see a real saturation," Chicago food industry analyst Darren Tristano told The Wall Street Journal a year ago. "Demand is flat. And quite frankly, people can bake cupcakes." (They can also brew their own coffee and make their own hamburgers, of course.) It seems that the high-end cupcake's moment has just come and gone. So what's the next craze?
The Cronut, obviously. And here's the epilogue: Crumbs is banking its future on a croissant-donut hybrid called the Crumbnut. The obvious knockoff of Dominique Ansel's fried croissant is "the last great thing that we put out there," Crumbs CEO Ed Slezak tells Businessweek. "We believe that trends in food can and should be enjoyed by all." Peter Weber
Robert Mueller coolly reminds everyone that the Trump-Russia investigation is still happening, with 'multiple lines of non-public inquiry'
You say "eee-ther," I say "eye-ther"; you say "Witch Hunt!" I say, "ongoing criminal investigation with multiple lines of non-public inquiry." In a court filing Thursday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller urged a U.S. District Court in Washington to deny a request from a group of five major news organizations to gain access to sealed documents, including search warrants and sealed court transcripts in its investigation into Russian tampering in the 2016 presidential election and the special counsel's case against Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman.
Mueller quietly reminded everyone that of all the leaking going on in Washington and New York, none of it is coming from his team — and his team knows things you don't:
The special counsel's investigation is not a closed matter, but an ongoing criminal investigation with multiple lines of non-public inquiry. No right of public access exists to search warrant materials in an ongoing investigation. ... Search warrant materials regularly remain sealed while investigations are ongoing. And a right of public access risks jeopardizing open investigations. That remains true even though some aspects of the investigation have resulted in charges; the overall investigation is not complete, and the search warrant materials relate to that ongoing investigation. [Court filing, Robert Mueller]
"As of this date, the government has brought criminal charges against 22 individuals and entities arising from the investigation," Mueller added, listing the charges in an appendix, in case anyone in the White House forgot that his office has turned up considerably more than nothing. The five news organizations — The Associated Press, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Politico — will likely have to look elsewhere for their information. They could always try Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). Peter Weber
The Washington Capitals defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs Wednesday, and will face the Vegas Golden Knights in the finals starting Monday in Las Vegas.
The Capitals haven't played in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1998, when they lost to the Detroit Red Wings, and this is only their second trip in the team's 44-year history. Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights reached the finals in their first season as a team. Catherine Garcia
North Korea is again threatening to not attend a summit next month with President Trump, with the country's vice minister of foreign affairs blasting Vice President Mike Pence for his "ignorant" comments comparing North Korea to Libya.
North Korea's state news agency KCNA on Thursday quoted Choe Son Hui as saying North Korea will "neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us. Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States."
Pence made his remarks during an interview with Fox News on Monday, saying it would be a "mistake" for North Korea to "play" Trump, and Washington could return to the "Libya model." In 2004, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi made a deal with the U.S. to give up his nuclear weapons, and in 2011, after being forced out of power, he was captured and brutally killed. Catherine Garcia
Milwaukee police chief: Officers acted 'inappropriately' while arresting Bucks player Sterling Brown
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said on Wednesday that officers who used a stun gun on Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown in January "acted inappropriately" and have been disciplined.
Morales released 30 minutes of body camera footage showing the incident, which began in the early hours of Jan. 26 in front of a Walgreens. The video shows an officer approach Brown, whose car appears to be parked so it takes up three spaces. After a few minutes, they begin arguing, and more police cars drive up. Brown is heard asking what is going on, and eight minutes in, he's told to take his hands out of his pockets. An officer is then heard yelling, "Taser! Taser! Taser!" Officers are later seen looking through Brown's car, and one is heard telling another, "He was being an ass and trying to hide something."
Brown was arrested, but criminal charges were never filed. The Bucks released a statement supporting Brown, calling the incident "shameful and inexcusable," and Brown, who plans on suing the department, said the experience "has forced me to stand up and tell my story so that I can help prevent these injustices from happening in the future." Morales apologized for the incident, saying he was sorry it "escalated to this level." Catherine Garcia
On Wednesday, ABC canceled The Chew to make room for a third hour of Good Morning America, which will air in the afternoon.
The new Good Morning America program will take over The Chew's time slot in September. Staffers were notified Wednesday and "completely blindsided," one person with knowledge of the situation told Us Weekly. "They were under the impression that the show was still strong and would continue." New episodes of The Chew, now in its seventh season, will start taping in June, to air through the summer.
Former co-host Mario Batali was fired from the show in December after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him. Earlier this week, it was reported that the celebrity chef is under investigation by the NYPD for alleged sex-related crimes, but a representative for ABC told AOL the cancelation was "a business decision" and Batali "did not factor into this." Last week, co-host Carla Hall revealed that there were no plans to replace Batali on the show. Catherine Garcia
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) didn't name President Trump directly in his remarks to Harvard Law School graduates on Wednesday, but with a dig about selling red hats, it was clear who the retiring senator was talking about.
Flake said the United States "may have hit rock bottom. This is it. If you have been wondering what the bottom looks like, this is what it looks like when you stress-test all of the institutions that undergird our constitutional democracy at the same time." The presidency has been "debased" by a "figure who seemingly has a bottomless appetite for destruction and division, and only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works," Flake said. It's time for people to stop equating being "cruel" with making "America great," he said, adding, "to be clear, we did not become great – and will never be great — by indulging and encouraging our very worst impulses. It doesn't matter how many red caps you sell."
Flake has been one of the few Republicans in the Senate to go after Trump, and he told the graduates that there are "times when circumstances may call on you to risk your career in favor of your principles. But you, and your country, will be better for it. You can go elsewhere for a job, but you cannot go elsewhere for a soul." The country is divided, but "we need each other, and it is a scoundrel who would prosper politically by turning us against each other." Catherine Garcia
The way Rudy Giuliani has been running his mouth the last month, you'd think he was in constant communication with President Trump, but surprise! They haven't spoken in weeks.
Giuliani, one of Trump's newest lawyers, told BuzzFeed News that the last time they talked was "a couple of weeks ago," and "people from our office" are the ones communicating with Trump. When asked how often, he said, "Talking, correspondence? A couple of times a week." Giuliani has appeared on countless TV news programs over the last month, and given dozens of interviews with media outlets, where he intimated that he knew exactly what Trump was thinking and chatted with him often.
The Washington Post also interviewed Giuliani on Wednesday morning, with the article running under the headline, "In reversal, Giuliani now says Trump should do interview with Mueller team." Giuliani told BuzzFeed News, "no, I didn't say that," then admitted he did say that, but "that doesn't mean we've reversed though. That's always been true." On Tuesday, however, Giuliani told The Wall Street Journal that if investigators told Trump he "had to" sit for an interview, "the answer would have to be no." Catherine Garcia