Go Get Yourself Some Kickass Cupcakes


We’ve been told all our lives that American culture likes things big, and nowhere is this axiom more evident than in our eating habits. Just as Americans worship largeness in all its forms, buying ever-bigger cars to venture out into ever-wider landscapes, their restaurant portions are often twice as large as their European counterparts. But amidst this expansion of expansion—and the brashness that often accompanies it—there is a counterculture that races to embrace all things small.

At the forefront of the miniaturization are “twee” kids, so called for the ironically childish British pronunciation of the word “sweet.” Twee is most commonly understood as a genre of music that encompasses college favorites like Belle and Sebastian, but it is also a lifestyle that centers itself around a return to childhood. As such, it tends not only towards adorably cliché graphic tees or knit mittens, but also towards diminution. Though the movement has existed since the early ’90s, twee kids’ newly pastel iPods have shrunk to bite-size proportions, and their jeans are getting skinnier by the hour.

Tweesters therefore face the dilemma of fitting into this lifestyle (and its accompanying apparel) while also allowing themselves to indulge in the sweets of their childhood. Luckily, there is a solution, and it comes in the form of the acceptably hip cupcake.

A good cupcake is not much larger than an iPod mini, and its sweetness is delightfully infantile. But unlike animal-ear hats or architecture in Helsinki, cupcakes are literally sweet as well as figuratively twee, making them an excellent snack regardless of taste in style or music.

One of the youngest and hippest cupcake shops around recently sprung up in Davis Square, the younger and smaller—and therefore twee-er—version of Harvard Square. Its name? “Kickass Cupcakes.”

Even Kickass Cupcakes’ name is in keeping with a movement whose paradoxical rallying cry is “Twee as fuck.” And their website includes a section entitled “Adventures of Kickass Cupcake,” which details the interactions of cupcakes in a cartoon video that is simultaneously sweet and sinister. And like twee culture, Kickass Cupcakes is not accessible to all. Rather, its location several blocks from the hub of the Square, at 378 Highland Street, means that its baked goods are reserved for those in the know.

In keeping with the store’s name, the cupcakes transcend their neat rows with deliciously rebellious flavor combinations. Those leaning toward adult tastes might want to sample the mojito cupcake. Topped with mint leaves and soaked with rum, this cupcake will leave any taster lovedrunk for the childishly adult snack.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the classically sweet cinnamon chai Pecan Sticky, which still offers a wonderfully complex eating experience. A more mature chai flavor provides a counterpoint to the childishly tactile delight of dipping one’s tongue into the sugary syrup that tops the cupcake. One bite of the simple-yet-refined chocolate and vanilla cupcakes will quickly send the eater back to the days of classroom birthday parties.

But Kickass Cupcakes doesn’t limit its clientele to children, trendy tweesters—or, for that matter, humans. At an ideal eye level for their target demographic, baked goods for pets sit on the lowest shelf, betraying no sign of their intended consumers besides subtle labels reading “Woof!” and “Meow!”

One of us—we won’t say who—unsuspectingly tried to order one of the so-called “Pupcakes,” only to be tactfully informed that she was of the wrong species to eat it. The error was perhaps understandable, since the pet treats look every bit as delectable as their human counterparts.

Kickass Cupcakes doesn’t have any seating area, making a bench outside the bakery the best place to enjoy their treats. As the weather gets brisker, this sitting spot means that fuzzy hats and mittens are a prerequisite for any visit—even for the non-twee set.

—Staff writers Aliza H. Aufrichtig and Marianne F. Kaletzky can be reached at and