MURPHY: Judging IronCupcake: Milwaukee’s color competition

Michael Murphy

People from all over Milwaukee gathered at The Irish Pub in the Third Ward Monday night to compete and judge IronCupcake:Milwaukee’s color challenge.

I showed up 20 minutes before the contest started so I could fully absorb the atmosphere, and it was a sight to behold.

The outdoor patio was lively with people chatting in anticipation of the cupcake tasting. From the get go, it was easy to identify the rookies and the veterans.

As soon as I nudged my way through some of the more seasoned veterans, I was able to take in the virginal cupcakes on display.

All of them were flawlessly placed and untouched, hoping to receive top marks in the presentation category.

I walked from the first display to the last and found myself keen on the idea of eating multiple bite-size cupcakes.

As people began to form a line to pick cupcakes, I realized these delectable treats cause some people to break the universal line treaty we’ve all been abiding by since first grade.

Some radical veteran cupcake eaters decided to teeter from the line and start from the other side. Before I could reach my first cupcake, I was elbowed out of the way by Jabba the Hutt so he could grab his 14th cupcake.

As I stepped back and watched this frenzy ensue, I saw a woman try to save her Charlie Brown cupcake from tumbling off the pile she had amassed.

As her eyes welled up with tears, she eyed the wounded soldier for about 10 seconds as it lay helplessly on the ground.

I could almost hear her internal debate of whether she should switch to the 15 second rule or just go back and get another.

After fighting my way through the line, I separated myself from the madness and sat down with the 12 cupcakes I had meticulously picked from the pack.

Because of my tiny stomach capacity, I was forced to take a pass on four that did not grab my attention.

I said no to the White Avocado and Purple Rain Cupcakes, both of which were vegan.

My bias against Lou Ferrigno prevented me from trying the Incredible Hulk Cupcake, despite the dapper green design.

Finally, I vetoed the Colorburst Cupcake because I could’ve sworn that the maker gave me a malicious look.

As I tried to pace myself with the 12 cupcakes I was left with, I was still faced with depreciation in taste, so I began rating on a curve the fuller I got.

After about 30 minutes of eating and chatter, everyone cast their votes for best tasting and best looking cupcakes.

I’m not going to lie, I gave out the Best Presentation award (the best looking) as soon as I walked in. The creator of the Happy Sunshine Cupcake was, ironically, very hot.

Unfortunately for sexy pastry chef, it was based on her cupcake, not her milkshake.

The actual Best Presentation winner was the Camouflage Cupcake, “a protest to all color,” as the chef put it.

The chocolate mint cupcake with a homemade truffle surprise nestled inside an ivy green plant.

As for the Taste Prize, I voted with the majority on the Blue Hawaiian Cupcake, which had pina colada frosting and an Elvis Presley tribute.

In the end, judging my first IronCupcake:Milwaukee was a success. I paid $5 for all the cupcakes I could eat and The Irish Pub treated all participants to a free drink as well.

I witnessed not just unadulterated baked beauty but an understanding of the great lengths some people go to cutting lines.

I also learned the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” extends further than just people. I wonder if the Happy Sunshine chef has a good personality…