This article was posted as an April Fool’s joke.

Many residents of Southeast DC and Prince George’s County must drive 30 minutes or more just to buy fresh produce.  Activists concerned with public health have recently made such “food deserts” a social justice issue.

Food deserts have been eclipsed, however, by a far more widespread crisis in food security. Nearly all Washington residents must suffer a drive of an hour or more just to buy cupcakes from a specialty cupcake store, as a new report from the DC Office of Planning highlights.


Map by James Graham. Click to enlarge.



The report differentiates dedicated specialty cupcake stores from mere bakeries that also sell cupcakes. Advocates for underserved communities have long argued that cupcakes from shops making 50% or more of their profit from other confectioneries are usually inferior in design and taste. This gives residents of those communities a major disadvantage in their everyday need to enjoy a small, sweet dessert.

This shameful sugar disparity became the subject of a recent DC Council hearing catered by Georgetown Cupcake.

Councilmember Mary Cheh responded to this crisis with legislation mandating cupcakes in public school cafeterias. Jack Evans advocated tax breaks for cupcake stores, arguing that DC is losing cupcake revenue to Maryland and Virginia.

Not to be outdone, Marion Barry introduced legislation providing tax incentives to cupcake retailers who set up shop in underserved wards, and Harry Thomas, Jr. has a bill mandating diagonal parking and asking DC to analyze building municipal parking garages around cupcake shops.

To address the problem, one nonprofit is trying to turn a school bus into a mobile bakery which will travel DC’s underserved areas selling cupcakes.

Due to the sweet success of the Redistricting Game, we will also launch a “Cupcake Desert Game.” The public will get the chance to map their own locations for desired cupcake stores and share them with friends.  We will then pass on these crowdsourced locations to the DC Council to consider as “Cupcake Enterprise Zones.”

Dessert-equity advocates argued this should be the District’s highest priority because of its deep effect on communities. The blog DC Devil’s Food for All wrote, “It is a fundamental right for every resident to be able to walk 10 minutes to buy a $4 cupcake.”

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Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son.  Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle.