When It Comes to Desserts, Ladies Take the Cake


EVERYDAY is cause for celebration, and today is no exception. Here in the U.S. it’s National Ice Cream Pie Day and/or Cupcake Day (depending on what your search engine produces), and on the other side of the world in Australia, it’s National Cupcake Day for the RSPCA. And who doesn’t love a pseudo-holiday that requires a little indulgence in order to celebrate?

These arbitrary dessert-themed days that happen throughout the year like National Lollipop Day (July 20), Doughnut Day (the first Friday of June), or my personal favorite S’mores day (August 10), are enjoyed by everyone — men and women. But for the most part, sweets have been marketed toward the ladies.

From the dainty packaging, Pepto-Bismol pink websites, and storefront windows of local pastry stores everywhere, feminine connotations are just innately there. Similar to beer and hamburgers, products that have trite ads meant to entice men, filled with half-naked women drinking from frothy mugs or that Carl’s Jr. ad with a svelte Kate Upton eating a messy burger, desserts are usually associated with women. Let’s take for instance, cupcakes.

Just the name itself, cupcake, sounds feminine. If it personified, most likely she would be wearing a dainty slip, have bright orange or daffodil yellow hair, and possibly be showered with glitter. A cliché for whatever femininity looks like. At least this is what the cupcake wizards have conditioned us to think. The world would be a different place if the sugary treats had been called something more masculine way back from their first origins in the late 1700s. If the delicious cakes had been christened cannon balls or muscle cakes, their feminine marketing would have taken a whole different route. Easy-bake ovens would have been available in army green or navy blue, and a Muscle Cake football league would probably exist.

Women and sweets are synonymous. It’s an age-old stereotype akin to other ubiquitous favorites like all women have an inevitable soft spot for romantic comedies or love shopping with their girlfriends. Women like sweets, men like savory. And for the most part it’s true.

In large part, thanks to those pesky, at times stressful hormone fluctuations that show up during PMS or menopause, most all women can relate to the need for sweets. That involuntary desire for a sweet confection, a piece of chocolate, or heck, maybe the whole bag of chocolates when emotions overload and you just need to say f**k it. No wonder desserts spelled backwards is stressed. But word play and shame aside, you really can blame it on your hormones.

Numerous studies have established that women on average do crave sweets more than men. It’s been proven that women’s biological makeup, which includes the low production of neurotransmitters, combined with the aforementioned female hormone fluctuations are what cause more sweet cravings compared to what men experience. And of course men desire sweets and can experience emotional eating as well, but the sweet tooth culprit, in general, has been attributed to affecting more women.

Take for instance the online delivery service, GrubHub’s study put out last year that found 25% of women are more likely to include dessert in their orders. And when it comes to chocolate, women also take the cake. Those erratic estrogen and progesterone hormone levels can prompt a strong craving for chocolate, which brings to mind quite possibly the pinnacle of all the national dessert days: Valentine’s Day. Without question this love fest is geared more toward satisfying the female sweet tooth. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Just means more chocolate for us, ladies.

Dessert marketing’s attempt to tap into these sweet (especially female) spots, enticing us with reasons to justify the collective celebration of eating a doughnut or whatever National (fill in the blank) sugar day it may be, will most likely never end. And just like a craving that creeps in, causing even the strongest willpower to cave, we’ll probably never resist their temptations. And that’s OK. Because really, who needs a holiday to enjoy a sweet indulgence?

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