Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crave vs Sprinkles Cupcake war in Houston, TX

On my quest of job and apartment hunting in Houston to relocate...we of course I just HAD to check out the local cupcake shops! My yelp locator said there were 2 cupcake shops worth visiting; Sprinkles and Crave. I was very excited to be going to one of the original Sprinkle cupcake shops. We plugged in the address in my niftly little Tom Tom and we drove...around and around and around we drove. We had a difficult time finding the little cursive sprinkle sign in the middle of a massive building still under construction. On the wall before we entered the shop were 3 tv screens viewing the original owner on various shows. Once inside, we were surprised at how small the area was. The actual customer ordering areas was about as big as walk-in closet. The decor of the shop was brown, very brown with an occasional splash of color spots. I suppose that represents "sprinkles". There was a large window of cupcakes each marked with wooden pegs of their flavor. We chose Red Velvet, Chocolate Coconut, and Chocolate Marshmallow. The Girls behind the counter were very friendly and made a point to say my name at least 3 times in like 2 minutes (Can I see some ID April? Here are your cupcakes April. Have a nice day April!). Seriously 3 times in 2 minutes.
Crave Cupcakes
Our next stop was Crave. Crave was only a few blocks away from Sprinkles and appeared to be brighter in atmosphere and in color (key word "appeared"). The girls behind the counter were very friendly. Let me rephrase that, extremely friendly. We wanted to just stand there and marvel at all the cute cupcakes, decorations and busy bee workers making cupcakes, but we had 3 girls each asking us incessively if we needed help, or what could they get us or do we need help choosing a flavor. I'm glad they were friendly, but we really felt rushed. We ordered; Red Velvet, Lemon, Nutella, Chocolate Creme, and a coffee. Crave was very cute, bright and open. The coffee was pretty good too. We took our cupcakes home and began our cupcake war! Based on appearance, both cupcakes from both shops had the same appearance; very simple, with a spot of candy on top and both shops charged the same price for the same sized cupcakes. Craves won the originality only because their candy spot had a shape of a sunbeam mixer on top. I have a sunbeam mixer but have been wanting a kitchen-aid mixer for like FOREVER. I have been telling Tony that I need a kitchen-aid mixer (everybody on Cupcake Wars has them!) to make cupcakes. Craves use a sunbeam mixer as their signature decoration and in fact uses a sunbeam mixer to make their actual cupcakes totally blowing my chances of getting a kitchen-aid mixer any time in the near future. Thank you, Craves! Now on to the most important part of our Houston cupcake wars! Taste! I would have bet money that Crave was going to win and that I was going to get to say the Cupcake War's infamous words "I was just under-whelmed" about Sprinkle Cupcakes. I couldn't have been more wrong and the queen of cupcakes can shove a cupcake in my mouth because their cupcakes were AWESOME! The Red Velvet was super moist with a bright red color, the Chocolate Coconut was chocolatey. The frosting was not too sweet and had just the right amount of coconut on top. The Chocolate Marshmallow had a very dark chocolatey taste with the perfect amount of filling covered with a rich chocolate ganache. All 3 of Sprinkles cupcakes were "Wow" cupcakes. Crave Cupcakes on the other hand were all "underwhelming". The Red Velvet cupcake was not very red and could not be differentiated from the chocolate cupcake other than by the frosting. The Lemon cupcake was sugar-shock sweet and could not be tolerated after the first bite. The Nutella cupcake tasted like a bland coffee cake. I was so wanting Crave to beat Sprinkles, but Sprinkles hands down won the taste part our Houston cupcake war! The final part of our Houston cupcake war is the cupcake shop's appearance and welcoming factor. Both cupcake shops employees were equally friendly and informative, but Crave was brighter and more welcoming. I have to say even though Crave won the presentation (only by a candy impression) and shop appearance, Sprinkles won the taste portion by a landslide, and taste will bring us back to a cupcake shop faster than any presentation or shop decor. So, the winner of our Houston cupcake war is: SPRINKLES!

Sprinkle Cupcakes

Sprinkles Cupcakes on Urbanspoon


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  2. I totally agree on everything you have to say about both places. I just conducted my own cupcake war and I'm happy to say that I'm glad I finally found Sprinkles. Twice I went by and drove around and around and couldn't find them causing me to go to Crave those two times. This time I called them...I told the girl that picked up the phone that I was at my destination according to the map but could NOT see them, she was nice and told me where they were...I wasn't looking at the unfinished building...they need a bigger sign.
    After tasting Sprinkles I can't believe that I was missing out on something better.
    But if you are closterfobic, don't go to Sprinkles.

    Happy cupcaking!

    Marissa M.
    Houston, Texas USA

  3. uh, of course sprinkles won... if you were born without your taste buds! I mean, seriously? Sprinkles could not EVEN hold a candle to Crave. They are funky, fresh, new, and their decorations for the cupcakes are so natural and neat. Not messy like Sprinkles. And furthermore, Crave has SOOOOOOOO many more flavors. Oh, and btw, the people at the counter are being very friendly because they want you to feel satisfied. Of course, if you go in and announce that you are holding a "cupcake war" between Crave and Sprinkles, that might make them feel a little nervous and more pressured to get your order exactly right. And the name for the store? They got it just right. I crave CRAVE all the time!!!
    If you really want a GOOD cupcake thats creative and tastes GOOD, GO TO CRAVE. YOU WILL BE SATISFIED. IT WILL CALM YOUR SWEET TOOTH!!!

    *Cr*Av*E* ~ it rox!!! :)

  4. Crave was started in 2008 by a couple of LA transplants, where Sprinkles had been in operation since 2005 (in Beverly Hills). So, I'm going to have to say that Crave is a Sprinkles copycat. The design of the store, boxes, even the non-swirled frosting with a button-topper... all Sprinkles. It's too bad a local favorite has to copy the west-coast original in order to compete with them years later.

    Perhaps I should check out "Ooh La La Dessert Boutique" to see if THEY are a local AND original competitor against Sprinkles and Sprinkles-copy-crave....

  5. Thank goodness for your comparison. I have been completely underwhelmed by Crave and it's so frustrating because I keep searching for the perfect red velvet cupcake. I love the ones I had in NYC from Crumbs and even they're not considered the best in NYC, but they are A MILLION TIMES BETTER than Crave.

    I really don't understand what the attraction to Crave is and will definitely give Sprinkles a try, just to see what they taste like. So far, Crave is marginally okay and Celebrity cupcakes is not much better.

  6. I say neither! Small cakes just opened around the corner from my office on Eldridge Pkwy and to me , they beat both crave and sprinkles. Just my two cents.