Cupcake Challenge Status: Cupcake Judged

the official cupcake we sent to SkullSpace in WinnipegLast month HacDC participated in the Global Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge by sending a specially-packaged cupcake through the mail to SkullSpace in Winnipeg. On Sunday, 16 January 2011, a group of us gathered at HacDC to choose, decorate, and package the cupcake. Hasufin provided home-baked cupcakes in various combinations of {ginger | chocolate | honey} cake and {chocolate | vanilla | "7-minute"} frosting/icing. We were compelled to taste these combinations to choose the best in terms of flavor and expected durability. It was a grueling task, but we persevered, and eventually we chose the ginger cake with vanilla frosting as the cupcake we would send. Our next task was decoration, since the contest rules require "at least one sugar based topper/decoration" in addition to the frosting. We experimented with tubes of cake decorating gel to see how finely we could write and draw on the cupcake's frosting. The notion of drawing a QR code on the frosting tickled our fancy for a while. We couldn't achieve sufficiently high resolution using dots of gel, given the limited surface area on the top of the cupcake, so we thought of using a stencil and aerosol food color. But the hour was growing late, and we lacked a clearly-working printer—never mind the island problem with making a stencil for a QR code—so we abandoned that idea. In the end, we chose a simple appeal to patriotism, in the form of a Canadian flag with a maple leaf drawn from red food gel and red fields formed from cinnamon imperials. For packaging, we suspended the cupcake inside a plastic tub with two bamboo skewers. We placed the plastic tub inside a styrofoam cooler along with a couple of freezer packs, a handful of vinyl HacDC stickers, and small packets of Swedish Fish as padding. A postal holiday, icy weather, and minor illness combined to delay shipping until Wednesday the 19th, on which date we shipped the package to Winnipeg via USPS Express Mail International. It arrived at International Dispatch in New York on the 20th and crossed into Canada on the 24th; Canada Post attempted delivery for a few days before succeeding on the 28th. The SkullSpace folks wrote a blog post describing the unboxing and judging and posted this video as well:The upshot: the cupcake tasted great but arrived far from intact. As a result, our overall score is not among the top contenders, but we did have a good time and learn how not to ship a cupcake. And we can certainly recommend the ginger cake recipe we used.

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