You ever have one of those days where nothing seems to be going right? The day I discovered Queen Bee Cupcakes started off being one of those. The first sign that I was in trouble came from the weather. Since the farmer’s market is a good 45 minutes away I had to get up early and leave just after sunrise, yet when I was getting ready to go, it was still dark out. Upon further review, it was storming out… and not one of those nice little showers, I’m talking gale force winds here, people. Oh well, I needed to get milk and eggs and by Jove I was going! I grabbed my black umbrella (no use taking Jess’ pink one as a spare) and trudged out through the soggy grass and pouring rain to the car. The entire ride up to the market the rain didn’t let up, in fact, it seemed to get harder the closer I got. Eventually I arrived to find just two lone vendors waiting for me, with me being the only customer. Luckily the two just happened to be the farms I buy my milk and eggs from, so it wasn’t a total wash. As soon as I got a few steps from my car, a mighty gust swept up and promptly turned my umbrella inside-out, and snapping two of the metal rods. Well, looks like I’d be getting a little wet… lovely.
While helping Renee from Twin Oaks hold down her tent, we got to talking about the Airstreams I saw lining the street. She told me that she didn’t know what all of them had, but she pointed to one of them and informed me that she knew that they had cupcakes. Cupcakes, people! I’ll admit, I was a little incredulous, to be honest and at best I thought they’d be just a mix from a box… nothing to write home about. Either way, I was intrigued, so I trudged through the downpour over to the shining silver van. With the rain falling around me, I purchased and ate what became one of my favorite cupcakes of all time. I don’t know how, but that cupcake turned the entire day around for me. I was wet and cold, but standing there eating a salted caramel cupcake while smelling the warm sweet air coming through the window just made me forget all of that.
Queen Bee Cupcakes stemmed from a simple conversation Jennifer Green (one of the two owners) was having over a couple drinks. It was noted that while Seaside had many other great shops, it didn’t really have a good place to get dessert. Over drinks and more discussions the entire plan came into being… Jennifer would sell cupcakes from an airstream parked right along 30A in Seaside.
Over the course of the next few months, and with a couple delays, Queen Bee Cupcakes opened for business on June 1st, 2009. Since then they’ve been packing in the customers ranging from the locals, to the yearly visitors, to even British royalty. As they close in on their first year anniversary I had a few minutes to sit and chat with Jennifer and get a tour of the airstream. The biggest thing to note is that it is much bigger on the inside than it looks. The second is that it seems perfectly suited for baking cupcakes with their giant mixer, oven and baking racks.
When it came to the cupcakes themselves, Jennifer told me that all the recipes were originally perfected at her home and once she started baking in the van she realized that they just wouldn’t work. The temperature and humidity difference of cooking outside by the ocean completely wrecked her cupcakes and ended up causing her to reformulate every single one. Luckily she pulled through and came up with a cupcake that is moist and a frosting that stays on top even in the burning sun and salty air. The other amazing thing to realize is that Jennifer never wanted to open a restaurant… it’s true. It turns out that her father had a restaurant when she was a child and the family pitched in to work to keep everything up and running. That amount of stress was something she never wanted to put herself through again and instead focused on marketing. Even though the work is hard, she told me that she is happy she went through with the idea and started the shop. It allows her the chance to express her creativity and make people happy… and isn’t that what it’s all about?
Over the past few months I’ve gotten the chance to sample a good twelve flavors or so and each one is very unique. They have a set of “everyday favorites” which consists of key lime, chocolate w/ chocolate frosting, chocolate w/ pink vanilla frosting, vanilla w/ chocolate frosting and vanilla w/ pink vanilla frosting. Along with these, they usually have between one and three “special” cupcakes of the day that range from coconut to vegan chai latte. You never really know what the special will be and I’ve yet to show up to something I’ve had before. My top three flavors (so far), in no particular order, are coconut, Italian cream, and salted caramel. Jess, on the other hand, has only one true love: Coconut. Not only is it her favorite flavor, she requests a half-dozen if they happen to be the special that day. I’ll admit, that is one of their best flavors and usually one of the first to sell out when they have them. Along with cupcakes, Queen Bee also serves up a nice, fresh-squeezed lemonade like mom used to make… how nice is that?
If you’re ever around the gulf coast, be sure to take a trip over to see Jennifer and the others that help make these awesome snacks. They’re open from 10:00 am – 9:00 pm, seven days a week… sometimes even earlier, so you have plenty of time to stop by. So, if you’ve visited the shop, please tell me your favorite cupcake as I’ve not tried them all. In fact, why doesn’t everyone share their favorite cupcake flavors… perhaps they’ll find themselves being sold in a van down by the ocean.