Crumbs closure may have something to do with healthier eating habits

In the past decade, healthy eating has shifted from being just a trend for some, to a lifestyle choice for many. Restaurants everywhere are sourcing local food and boasting “farm-to-table” dining, juice bars and cleanses are de rigueur and fast food restaurants have started to add healthy items to their menus. According to a recent report from the Department of Agriculture, Americans say they are counting their calories and paying closer attention to the foods they consume.

The shuttering of the Crumbs cupcake chain this week wasn’t surprising to those who follow food trends. The bakery, which opened on the heels of Magnolia Bakery’s “Sex and the City” fame and then grew to 50 stores, has been struggling.

But the chain abruptly shuttered its doors with no warning, leaving many to ponder just what had happened. Yes, the money wasn’t coming in. According to Bloomberg, Crumbs lost $23 million over the past two fiscal years and was $14 million in debt. And, yes, food lovers who guide trends had moved onto classier and more creative food items like the Cronut. 

Some have speculated that Crumbs was a brand better fit to another era. Doughnuttery’s Evan Feldman told the Daily News that the size of Crumbs’ cupcakes was to blame. “People are more health-conscious,” he said.

Crumbs cupcakes are known for being super-sized, and the bigger the food item the more calories, fat and sugar. A red velvet cupcake from Crumbs ran upwards of 500 calories.

And today, just a few days after Crumbs closed, CNBC reported that an investor group has plans to aquire Crumbs and bundle it with other holdings to create a new entity. One of those holdings includes Sweet Pete’s Candy, an all-natural candy company that boasts gluten-free and vegan sweets.

At the same time the cupcake trend was petering out, juicing and cleansing was quickly growing. From Juice Press to BluePrint to Organic Avenue to Juice Generation, there’s a juice cleanse for everyone.

Juice Generation was founded in Manhattan by Eric Helms in 1999. Today, the store has 12 locations in New York City and has plans to expand nationally to more than one city at the end of the year.

Helms said that juicing has become something that’s for everyone.

“People are taking more control of their health,” he said. “We have 12,000 people everyday coming through our doors, people you’d never think would have a green juice.”

A story Helms recalled further emphasized that point. Just yesterday, he said, he visited the Columbus Circle location and found a group of women doing shots – juice shots.

“They were all talking about their day … [it was] a very social moment,” he said. “Instead of taking shots at a bar, they’re doing shots of lemon, ginger and cayenne.”

The famous scene from “Sex and the City” at Magnolia Bakery, which set off cupcake mania, featured Miranda and Carrie eating a cupcake, dishing about their love lives. Today’s women, at least some of them, are elsewhere.

But is the cupcake really over?

Huascar Aquino is the owner and baker at H Bake Shop in Manhattan and a winner on The Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” When creating his menu, he took into account that consumers want healthier options, and that’s why he uses fresh fruits and vegetables, and less sugar, in his cupcakes. 

“People are becoming more conscious about what they’re eating,” he said. “I try to get some health into it.”

Aquino makes cupcakes with spinach, avocado, fresh watermelon and other fruits. His new summer cupcake, watermelon-mint berry, is a watermelon and mint cake with blueberry lemon frosting, blueberry sauce, candied lemon zest and blueberry fruit.

So there are ways to still indulge, while also paying attention to what you eat. Perhaps Helms put it best.

“Everything in moderation,” he said.