Last Friday was Mason’s 6th birthday. She couldn’t have been more excited. In addition to turning six and getting a lot of attention, she was so excited that I was going to come and eat lunch with her and share cupcakes with her classmates. I was excited to go myself. Even though Mason’s school is just across the street from my office, I haven’t been during school hours yet. Shame on me, I know. But now that I know it is so easy, I may just do it more often.
Because of travel schedules for Jeremy and Kristin, and because Mason’s real birthday present is a trip to Hershey Park next weekend, I struggled to figure out how to make the actual day special. I had read in the Happiness Project book I’m reading that most happiness comes in the planning of an event. So I decided to make a big deal out of Mason and I going to the store to pick out the cupcakes we would take to school. (As is the case with most schools, we are not allowed to bring homemade food. It must be store-bought. Kind of disappointing for a baker like me, but I actually like store-bought cakes because I love the sugary icing. Yummy!) So Mason, Cooper and I drove to our nearest Giant grocery store. I picked Giant because I knew I would have to pick up the cupcakes the evening before, and the location was the best for doing so at rush hour. (First lesson learned – don’t pick a bakery by location only.) We went straight to the bakery and put in the order Mason had been thinking long and hard about. A mix of chocolate and vanilla cake with a mix of pink and yellow frosting. I ordered 3 dozen. Her class only has 2 dozen kids, but I knew it was going to be “Dine with Dads” day when I brought them in, so I figured I’d order extra to share with the Dads in attendance. When we picked up the cupcakes Thursday night, Mason was even more excited. The pink was hot pink – her favorite! And they smelled delicious – all that sugar just waiting to be eaten.
I joined Mason for lunch, enjoyed some time with her friends, and then she was ready to pass the cupcakes out to her classmates (and they were eager to eat them!) We passed them out and still had more than a dozen left in the box. (Second lesson learned – “Dine with Dads” day means that kids and their Dads can eat all over the school grounds. If it were a sunny day, they could have set up outside for a picnic. Or on rainy days, as it was today, they can spread out to other classrooms so that everyone has a place to sit. Therefore, not all the kids were in the cafeteria eating with us. 3 dozen was way too many!) As Mason dug into her cupcake, I noticed that the pink frosting was getting everywhere. Not a huge surprise since it was such a deep color. What was a surprise (even though I should have clued in on it earlier) was that the pink icing was disgusting. Mason had a horrid look on her face and didn’t want to finish her cupcake. I took a bite of the one I was holding and almost spit it out. Again, I should have known, but to get such a deep hot pink, they had to put a lot of food coloring in that frosting! Sadly, all we could taste was the red dye.
Now, I’ve never been very health-conscious. I’ve never gotten into all the “hype” about dyes and what is in our foods. I figured I grew up just fine eating all that stuff, so why can’t my kids. But after eating what tasted like a chemical-filled cupcake, I just might start looking into this stuff. I don’t think I’ll go overboard and ban anything with dye in it at my house. But I’ll at least avoid ordering cupcakes with hot pink icing! Lesson learned!
Side note: The yellow frosted cupcakes weren’t that much better. And honestly the cake was just ho-hum. Maybe it’s the problem with cupcakes versus a sheet cake – the ratios are just off in large commercial kitchens. I was less than impressed and realized it might be worth traveling a little out of my way and paying more than $10 per dozen for good tasting, dye-free cupcakes next year. Yet another lesson learned.