Wars Stories

Scrumps Cupcakes owners Kathleen and Nathan Robinson only had 45 minutes notice that their episode of “Cupcake Wars” was going to be shown on Sunday night. One of their extended family members noticed that the Elvis-themed episode had turned up in their cable system’s on-screen program guide. Food Network had originally told the Robinsons that their episode would probably be broadcast in March. Obviously something caused them to make a last minute substitution.

I first met the Robinsons a year ago when they had a booth at the March of Dimes Signature Chef Auction. They opened a storefront in Fountain City earlier this year. In May, I asked them to donate a couple dozen Death by Chocolate cupcakes to the FBI Knoxville Citizens Academy Alumni Association for a meeting we held at the nearby Gentry-Griffey Funeral Chapel.

I saw their Facebook post after the show aired last night. Although I had already learned the outcome from Facebook, I wanted to start watching right away. Fortunately, my DVR is set to record every new episode of “Cupcake Wars.” If you missed it, the episode will be repeated at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and again at 7:00 p.m on November 29.

Kathleen and Nathan had to keep their trip to tape the show at Los Angeles Center Studios a secret. I remember seeing a Facebook post over the summer that said the store would be closed for a few days. At the time I suspected their dream to be on the “Cupcake Wars” had come true.  I had already watched the audition video they posted online.

In round one of last night’s show, the bakers were given only two items on the inspiration table. Peanut butter and banana are well-known as favorites of Elvis. In fact, Nathan and Kathleen had unwittingly added a banana cake with peanut butter icing called “The King” to their store’s menu shortly before going on the show. As an Elvis fan, I would have liked for the producers to require the bakers to use some of the food items that had to be on-hand at Graceland at all times.

The Robinsons had nothing but praise for “harsh judge” Florian Bellanger, substitute judge Bobbie Lloyd of Magnolia Bakery and celebrity guest judge Mary Anne Mobley. They were especially appreciative of the way Mobley stuck up for their use of marshmallow creme in round one after Bellanger said he didn’t like it. Mobley’s comments were edited out of the final broadcast.

In round two, Kathleen had to dump a tray of batter when she realized she had used powdered sugar instead of flour. Another contestant made the same mistake. For some reason, the producers chose to put the two ingredients in side-by-side unlabeled containers. Hmm… The Robinsons survived that round, which is based 50% on taste and 50% on decorations. Their decorations were criticized by the judges as being too plain. Florian said their fondant record album looked like a flat tire.

I re-watched the show today with my wife. While acknowledging my bias for the local team, I still feel they deserved to win. Their “Aloha from Hawaii” display was far superior to that of the other finalist. Kathleen designed a rack of shelves in the shape of a silhouette of Elvis. The other contestant designed a piano-shaped display and explained that most people didn’t know Elvis played the piano. Nathan and Kathleen admitted that their fondant decorations cost them the contest.

On Monday and Tuesday, Scrumps is offering free mini-samples of their cupcakes from the show. I stopped by to taste the King and the Sweet Potato Casserole cupcakes. I also purchased a full-sized and mini version of each flavor. Both were, as promised by the store’s full name, Scrumpdiddlyumptious.

sign outside Scrumps Cupcakes the day after their "Cupcake Wars" appearance Kathleen and Nathan Robinson of Scrumps Cupcakes display Sweet Potato Casserole and The King cupcakes cross-section of "The King" peanut butter and banana cupcake from Scrumps Cupcakes

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