Spotlight: When and How to Celebrate National Cupcake Day

There are roughly 1,500 National Days in a calendar year. National Sourdough Bread Day, National Bowling Day, and National Chop Suey Day are a just a few of the varied, unusual, and wholly unique celebrations you’ll find on the list.

However, National Cupcake Day stands out in the minds of many. It has a rich history in the culinary world and a spot in America’s staple party foods. Here’s everything you need to know about this unofficial holiday and how to get in on the action.

What Is National Cupcake Day?

National Cupcake Day is a holiday that celebrates those delicious, single-serving cakes with frosting and other cake decorations on top. It’s a day to indulge in your love for cupcakes, as well as an excuse to buy a baker’s dozen for yourself or the office. From creating a bake-off fundraiser to enjoying some home baking with your family, the ways to celebrate are nearly endless.

This is an unofficial holiday, which means no one gets the day off of work and not everyone recognizes it when the time rolls around. Still, hundreds of thousands of individuals, along with a multitude of bakeries, take part in cupcake-themed festivities each year. Why? Who doesn’t love a good cupcake?

Don’t confuse this holiday with Chocolate Cupcake Day, though. That takes place on October 18th. So, if you love the chocolate variety, then you can celebrate on your own special day. Either way, you’ll find people every flavor under the sun on this special occasion.

national cupcake day

How Did This “Holiday” Start?

The origin of the cupcake is unknown, but many think it is related to the English Fairy Cake. The English variety is smaller in size and use less icing than their American counterparts. They are also crafted from sponge cake, and often have the tops cut off and replaced to resemble wings.

Both varieties got their start sometime in the 1700’s as birthday party hits. Back then, cupcake pans weren’t even a thought to be had, and bakers used ramekins or small pots to create these tasty treats. They weren’t called cupcakes just yet, though. Instead, a cookbook in 1796 referred to them as a “light cake to bake in small cups.”

As fate would have it, people began longing for their next chance to devour one of the scrumptious pastries. In fact, literature around that time includes poems dedicated to just how delicious cupcakes were. So, it wasn’t long before someone decided to make these treats a mainstream product.

Once the cupcake was commercially available, they began to fly off of store shelves around the country. That’s not much different from their current popularity, which is why someone decided to make a national holiday to celebrate them.

Unfortunately, no one knows who invented National Cupcake Day or when it started. Someone out there loved these pastries enough to get the ball rolling and start the trend, though. For as much love as the cupcake receives in the U.S., it only makes sense that it should have a special day on the calendar.

Here are a few key moments in cupcake history:

  • 1796 – The first reference to cakes baked in cups is made.
  • 1828 – Cupcakes earn their name in Eliza Leslie’s “Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats.”
  • 1919 – Hostess mass produces its first snack cake using the name “CupCake.”
  • 1950’s – Winston Churchill suggests frosting on cupcakes instead of fruit, spices, or lard.
  • Also 1950’s – Companies like Duncan Hines make it easier to bake cupcakes at home with mixes.
  • 1996 – Magnolia Bakery begins whipping up premier and gourmet flavors, which aren’t cheap.
  • 2003 – Crumbs markets their gourmet cupcakes, including a giant version that serves eight people.
  • 2005 – The first ever cupcake-only bakery, Sprinkles, opens in Beverly Hills.
  • 2010 – Cupcake Wars, a reality show where contestants bake-off against one another, airs on national television.
  • 2012 – Cupcake ATMs are created. Yes, you read that right.
  • 2014 – Ben & Jerry’s create the Lazy Sunday flavor in honor of a cupcake themed SNL skit
national cupcake day for cupcake lovers

When Does It Take Place?

National Cupcake Day takes place on December 15th of every year. There are no deviations to that schedule, making it easy to remember. Keep in mind that the 15th does fall on different days each year, though.

2017’s National Cupcake Day fell on a Friday, while this year’s will land on a Saturday. As you might have guessed, 2019’s will be on Sunday.

Respectively, National Chocolate Cupcake Day takes place on October 18th. National Lemon Cupcake Day shares its date with the original cupcake, too. However, you can enjoy any flavor you like on any of these holidays.

How Should I Celebrate?

The best way for you to celebrate National Cupcake Day is to eat as many of these delicious treats as you would like. However, many choose to go above and beyond in their festivities.

Some choose to throw cupcake parties, inviting their friends or families to indulge in a little over-snacking. Others give cupcakes as gifts on this day or post pictures of their own baked goods on social media with the hashtag #NationalCupcakeDay.

You could also invent your own recipe. The possibilities for creating a flavored cupcake are nearly endless, so get creative! Try out a blend of unique spices, fruits, or even batters. For a little inspiration, check out these 100 unique recipes.

Some individuals use the holiday as a chance to raise money for their favorite charity. You could do the same by hosting a bake-off fundraiser. There are multiple fundraisers for animal shelters, disease research, and even bake sales for schools going on during the holiday.

You might choose to purchase cupcake scented candles, wear a designer t-shirt featuring the pastry, or pick up any of the other hundred cupcake-themed items out there. Anything related to the baked good is a great way to show off your love for it while further celebrating the day. Did you know that they sell cupcake keychains?

Finally, some choose to share in this special day with their pet. You can find dozens of dog and cat-friendly recipes online that everyone can enjoy. What animal doesn’t look cute with a little frosting on its nose?

On a side note, several bakeries offer cupcake freebies on this day. Ask around to find out if you can get your hands on any free treats.

celebrating national cupcake day

Cupcakes for Everyone

With just one bite, it’s easy to see why cupcakes are such an integral part of America’s bakery scene. They offer the perfectly sized cake portion while allowing you to have any flavor you like or multiple flavors in one sitting.

Their whimsical appearances captivate children at parties as well as crafty adults, and their delightful wrapping is just as fun to pull off as they are to eat. From their inception to the time you’re reading this article, the cupcake has and will continue to be one of the top pastries in the United States.

Take the time this December 15th to indulge your sweet tooth with as many of these treats as you can handle. National Cupcake Day brings friends, families, and communities together with one simple premise: who doesn’t love a good cupcake?

national cupcake day celebration

Fun Cupcake Facts

To get you in the mood for a cupcake, as if you aren’t already, here is a list of unique and interesting facts surrounding the tasty treat. Some are astonishing, while others are a bit out there. Gravy on a cupcake? Who would’ve guessed?

  • Teacups were commonly used to bake cupcakes at home
  • In Australia, these pastries are known as Patty Cakes
  • Some earlier recipes were savory and topped with lard or even gravy
  • You can make almost any layer cake recipe in the miniature-cup form
  • Infusing liquor into your cupcakes is simple. There are hundreds of recipes online
  • Frosting wasn’t around until the 1950’s. People used fruit and spices for flavoring beforehand
  • Magnolia Bakery helped make cupcakes helps spur interest in the treats in 2000 after being featured on Sex and the City
  • The standing record for most cupcakes eaten in the shortest amount of time is 29 in 30 seconds
  • The largest cupcake ever baked weighed over 1,200 pounds and contained 2 million calories
  • Today, Sprinkles Cupcakes makes roughly 25,000 of the pastries per day
  • The most expensive cupcake, The Rox Diamond, is valued at over $150,000 due to the diamonds that top its frosting
  • As a standalone, fully edible cupcake, the Golden Phoenix costs $1,010 and is crusted in edible 24k gold
  • Hostess sells over 600 million of their CupCakes each year
  • Canada also has a National Cupcake Day, but theirs falls on the 26th of February