Clash of the Cupcake Chains: Sprinkles v. Gigi's Cupcakes
Sprinkles takes on new-to-the-Valley, Gigi's Cupcakes
Remember the 2000s, when cupcakes were just another bakery treat to enjoy on special occasions like birthdays and holidays? Yeah, so do we. But since those long gone days the little, frosted cakes have become America's sweetheart of sweet treats. They're everywhere we look it seems and have spawned a booming industry all their own of dedicated bakeries, television shows and mountains of cupcake-themed merchandise.
So when the Queen of the Southern cupcake scene, Gigi's Cupcakes, set up shop in the Valley we couldn't help but pit the two biggest names in cupcakes against each other to see which chain would come on top.
Let the frosting fly.
To keep things fair we chose a flavor offered every day by both shops, red velvet.
Gigi's Cupcakes red velvet cupcake
In This Corner: Gigi's Cupcakes
The Setup: To put it simply, this is America's largest cupcake chain. With more than 65 locations including two (soon to be three) in our own backyard, Gigi's got most of the country covered, cupcake-wise. Founded in Nashville by Gina "Gigi" Butler in 2008, the franchise offers a giant selection of more than 30 daily rotating flavors including Coconut Macaroon, Kentucky Bourbon Pie and Pumpkin White Chocolate.
The Good: If you like your frosting piled high, then know you'll love what you get at Gigi's. We'll give it to them, they've got some good looking cupcakes. Frosting, sprinkles and decorations that you can actually eat - yeah, we're looking at you Sprinkles, with your hard-as-plastic cupcake toppers. The frosting was light and fluffy and the cake moist without being overly sweet.
The Bad: The frosting, while easy on the eyes, made the cupcake extremely top-heavy and therefore difficult to eat.
The Price: $3.50 a pop
Red velvet cupcake from Sprinkles Cupcakes
In The Other Corner: Sprinkles Cupcakes
The Setup: This Oprah-approved cupcake shop claims to be the world's first cupcake bakery. With ten locations in posh tourist destinations and one cupcake ATM, this celebrity bakery arguably holds a heavy amount of
blame credit for the national cupcake craze. Founder Candace Nelson also acts as a judge on the Food Network show Cupcake Wars.
The Good: The cake nailed the essence of red velvet cake on the head, rich and moist but never too sweet. And...that's about it.
The Bad: From the moment we opened the box to remove the treat we knew things weren't going to go well. The grease ring left behind looked like it should have belonged to some sort of deep-fried food, not a baked good. And after eating the smooth, light frosting at Gigi's we just couldn't appreciate Sprinkle's super-sweet, and heavy frosting.
The Price: Also $3.50 a piece
The Verdict: While we've certainly developed a taste for Sprinkles' dense cake and sweet frosting combo, we say Gigi's take the cake - er, cupcake, that is. Between the refined presentation and overall more well-balanced flavors we have wonder if maybe, just this time, bigger is actually doing it better.
3925 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85018
15807 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Phoenix dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.