Thursday, April 24, 2008

52,000 cupcakes? Sweet!

Multiply this more than 3,000 times...

...and you can imagine the scale of this sugar masterpiece, made of 52,000 frosted cupcakes.

The display was created to mark the 10th anniversary of Maryland Day at the University of Maryland, College Park. It's a campus-wide open house, with all sorts of free entertainment and activities.

University representatives believe they may have set the world record for cupcakes served on a single day.

Dining Services staff baked and froze cupcakes for months prior to the big day. The cupcakes, iced in red, gold, brown and white, formed an image of the university seal, 24 feet in diameter, over 182 tables.

Volunteers arranged the cupcakes the night before the event, placing each cupcake in just the right color-coded spot. Set-up began around 9:30 pm and was completed by dawn.

At 10 am, university president C.D. (Dan) Mote, Jr. and his wife, Patsy Mote, handed out the first cupcakes.

Then the army of volunteer servers (myself included) sprang into action, removing cupcakes from the edges of the display, loading them on platters, and placing them on serving tables.

As each table was cleared of cupcakes, workers would remove the table, allowing us to reach further into the display.

When something is offered for free, people often start acting strangely. I'm not surprised when a child says, "No, I don't want the yellow one -- I want a RED one!" But an adult?

And I lost track of how many times I had to tell someone that I couldn't get them a chocolate-frosted cupcake, that the brown part of the design was still about four feet out of my reach.

Within a few hours, people were walking away with platters full of cupcakes. One enterprising woman loaded up a Tupperware "cake-taker" with more than a dozen cupcakes.

The day flew by. When the last cupcake disappeared into the crowd, around 4:15, a cheer went up under the now-empty tent. Weary servers discarded their cupcake aprons and finished off the last of the pizza provided for lunch.

Here's the University's press release about the cupcake extravaganza. In the overhead photo, I'm one of the people waving to the camera, farthest to the left.

That night, as I tried to fall asleep, I kept seeing swirls of yellow and red behind my closed eyelids.

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