Let me be annoying for a second. As part of the micro-generation of millennials that can still clearly remember a time before Web 2.0, I am not the biggest fan of Instagram traps. Something like New York’s mega-popular Museum of Ice Cream exists primarily to generate whimsical, high-quality profile pics, and no offense to its fans, but I’d sooner spend that $18 ticket price on the immolation of my social media feeds. I don’t like doing stuff to be seen doing it, is what I’m saying. Anyway, this is all a roundabout way of saying that I don’t do sprinkles. No sprinkles, please. Most desserts are better off without them.
Why sprinkles aren’t worth it
Are sprinkles not the Instagram traps of the culinary world? After all, they don’t add anything in the way of flavor, nor do they enhance the central sweet flavors of a dish, the way a dash of salt might. The texture they lend a dessert is rarely desirable, turning otherwise silky buttercream or frozen yogurt into a grainy, crunchy experience.
Yes, sprinkles add a delightful pop of color, but that’s just about all they offer—much like, say, a room full of sprinkles at the Museum of Ice Cream in which patrons can playfully toss sprinkles at a camera lens before realizing that’s about all the room is built for, then heading for the exit.
I promise I’m not trying to be a killjoy! I don’t hate sprinkles. I’ve just never found any dessert to be measurably enhanced by them. If you like them just because, hey, you think they’re fun, please, I beg you, go forth and sprinkle your cakes and cookies with my blessing. I’m not here to yuck your technicolor yum.
Sprinkles are a mess
When you add sprinkles to a dessert, you’re stripping that treat of its on-the-go snacking potential, and turning it into something altogether more precarious. Because I am a person who lives and dies by a strong arsenal of backpack snacks, sprinkles wreak havoc on my ability to gnaw cookies discreetly in the car at a red light or on a park bench.
Whether they’re gilding a cookie, a truffle, a mini cupcake, a cake pop, or anything else, all those sprinkles go flying once your teeth rupture the surface of the sweet. All those rainbow sugar shards, tumbling down onto the floor or into your bra, to be crushed into the rug by a boot heel or melted into a paste by the warmth of your décolletage. Is it worth it just to make your baked goods a tiny bit more photogenic?
The case for sprinkles
Of course, there are lots of reasons you might want to use sprinkles on your bakes. Birthday cakes are the ultimate example of something that should, by definition, be a little over-the-top. In those cases, though, I have an alternative recommendation: Funfetti cake, which contains all the delight of sprinkles with none of the textural/practical impediments.
As for adding pops of color to the exterior of the cake, there’s always candy. Imagine the potential of swapping in M&M’s Milk Chocolate Minis for sprinkles. You know, something more squarely in the “actual food” category.
I know, I know. I sound crotchety. But trust me, I’m not a grouch! All I want is for baked goods to be celebrated for the blessed concoctions they are. If a dessert just doesn’t seem “special” or “complete” until you hide it beneath the unwelcome crunch of rainbow bright sprinkles, maybe it’s... not the best recipe out there?
Go in peace with your sprinkles, but I will always reject them.