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
Rounding off a week of endorsements from Barack Obama, Joe Biden, running mate Time Kaine, and former opponent Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton will formally accept the Democratic Party's nomination on Thursday after a night of speeches addressing issues that effect women, such as equality in pay and the workplace. And just as Donald Trump was introduced by his daughter, Ivanka, Clinton will be ushered onto the stage at the end of the evening following an introduction by Chelsea Clinton.
Under the theme of "Stronger Together," the President of the Human Rights Campaign Chad Griffin and the Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) will also be giving speeches. See the full schedule here. Jeva Lange
Stephen Colbert is no longer allowed to play Stephen Colbert. Or at least not that Stephen Colbert, the hilarious conservative patriot of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. After Colbert broke out the old Colbert character in a version of "The Word" on CBS's Late Show, apparently Comedy Central got in touch to say they own the "intellectual property" of Stephen Colbert. The character, that is.
"Which, is surprising, because I never thought of that guy as much of an intellectual. So it is with a heavy heart that I announce that thanks to corporate lawyers, the character of Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report, will never be seen again," Colbert told his audience to loud boos. "The lawyers have spoken. I cannot reasonably argue that I own my face or name."
But fear not — Colbert might have found a loophole. He introduced the audience to Stephen Colbert's identical twin cousin, Stephen Colbert. "Our moms were identical twins, who married identical twin husbands, then had sex at the exact same moment and gave us the same name," Stephen Colbert (the twin) explained.
Confused? Let the Stephen Colberts explain it all, below. Jeva Lange
In the Jewish faith, a young woman's bat mitzvah is an important rite of passage, marking the transition from childhood to adulthood. But in the realm of political party fundraising, well, attending a bat mitzvah is probably low on the list of priorities for a party's heavy-hitters.
However, Politico reports Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, thought differently when she was tasked with enlisting Vice President Joe Biden to help raise money for the Democratic Party:
Democratic National Committee staff had sent [Wasserman Schultz] to the vice president armed with four specific requests for getting him involved in raising money for the party.
She decided to scrap them for two of her own.
First, she asked Biden to do a fundraiser for her own reelection to her House seat in Florida in the primary challenge she's facing next month. He agreed.
The second was to get down to Boca Raton for [her daughter's] bat mitzvah.
Biden's staff balked. They offered to tape a video message from him instead, hoping that would satisfy her. [Politico]
Wasserman Schultz "eagerly" accepted the video offer, Politico says — but the out-of-turn request was just one more reflection of the chairwoman's reportedly increasingly disruptive leadership of the DNC. The Florida congresswoman was forced to resign from her post Sunday after a leak of internal emails revealed some party officials had attempted to influence the Democratic primary race against Sen. Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton's main rival for the presidential nomination. Read more about the DNC's internal chaos — including Wasserman Schultz's allegedly defiant response to criticism of her and her staffers on social media — at Politico. Kimberly Alters
Megyn Kelly's contract at Fox News will expire after the election, and the star anchor has publicly confessed that she doesn't know what's going to happen after that. "I've had a great 12 years here, and I really like working for Roger Ailes. I really like my show, and I love my team. But, you know, there's a lot of brain damage that comes from the job," she told Variety this spring.
Speculation about Kelly's next move is really ramping up now that Kelly has admitted she hung out at the CNNGrill in Philadelphia in the wee hours of Thursday morning, The Washington Post reports:
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) July 28, 2016
Politico also wrote that while she was there, Kelly apparently spoke with "CNN chief Jeff Zucker" — who does the hiring at CNN — as well as "Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon, according to several tipsters." Kelly is in Philadelphia covering the Democratic National Convention for Fox News.
The Pentagon has opened a formal inquiry into a coalition airstrike on the village of Tokkhar, Syria, on July 19 that left at least 74 civilians dead. The decision comes just days before an internal Department of Defense deadline to launch the investigation.
Carried out by the U.S. Air Force, the strike allegedly mistook civilians for Islamic State fighters. Casualty estimates vary, with one United Kingdom-based group positing that as many as 203 innocents may have been killed. Most recently, a 14-year-old girl died from injuries sustained in the attack, which "pulverized entire families."
The devastating reports out of Tokkhar were "credible enough" to convince the Pentagon to investigate, U.S. Army Col. Christopher Garver announced Wednesday. Garver said he'd seen data claiming only 10-15 civilians had been killed. Bonnie Kristian
Melania Trump's website has mysteriously vanished, and her former URL now reroutes to her husband's business website, Trump.com, New York reports. As if a recent plagiarism scandal wasn't bad enough, some are now alleging that Melania actually made up a detail in her biography, which might be why her website has been thoroughly erased.
Apparently Trump's Slovenian wife stated in her biography that she holds a degree in design and architecture from a university back in her native country; biographers Bojan Pozar and Igor Omerza have argued that in fact Melania only attended school for a year before she dropped out.
Adding to the intrigue, Trump's campaign has repeatedly said Melania has a degree, with the program at the Republican National Convention claiming: "After obtaining a degree in design and architecture at University in Slovenia, Melania was jetting between photo shoots in Paris and Milan, finally settling in New York in 1996."
Bernie Sanders sent out the most popular tweet during Donald Trump's speech accepting the Republican nomination for president last week. This week, it was Trump's turn to — as he would put it — win Twitter.
He shared what became the most retweeted post on the social network Wednesday, the third day of the Democratic National Convention, which included speeches from Vice President Biden and President Obama. But Trump's tweet didn't mention either of them. "Shooting deaths of police officers up 78% this year," he wrote. "We must restore law and order and protect our great law enforcement officers!"
Shooting deaths of police officers up 78% this year. We must restore law and order and protect our great law enforcement officers!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2016
Trump is correct that shooting deaths of law enforcement are on the rise as compared to 2015. He neglected to mention, however, that even with that increase, now is a historically safe time to be a cop — as replies to his tweet quickly noted. Bonnie Kristian