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A Guide to the Best (& Worst) Cupcake Containers

For a short and glorious period of my life, I would regularly carry about 116 cupcakes down a hill to my apartment. These cupcakes were carefully boxed and layered into two large paper bags. Those bags became so heavy that I would sometimes want to yell in pain, because the thin paper handles dug into my skin. Did I still carry those cupcakes home? You bet I did. But I also learned a thing or two about what to look for in a good cupcake container.

After working at a cupcake shop, I can tell you there are hundreds, if not thousands of things that can happen to those beautiful, precious little confectionary treats, and that not all cupcake containers are created equal. What follows is a guide to the best and worst cupcake containers, as well as an overview of the sorts of mishaps you should plan for and attempt to prevent. I hope you find it useful!

Cupcakes are delicate creatures.  You must package them carefully.

Cupcakes are delicate creatures. You must package them carefully.

The Major Mishaps

When transporting cupcakes from Point A to Point B, there are a couple of things that are most likely to happen. Whilst working at a cupcake shop, the most common causes of untimely cupcake death included:

  • Damage inflicted to the cupcake during packaging (e.g. fingers messing up the frosting or fondant)
  • Flipped cupcakes (due to a sharp turn in a car or improper carrying)
  • Tilted and smudged cupcakes (due to poor packaging or turbulence)
  • Crushed or smudged cupcakes (due to cardboard boxes being smashed)
  • Disfigurement resulting from heat (e.g. melted frosting)
  • Disfigurement resulting from cold (e.g. drying out / chocolate sprinkles losing their temper)
  • Damage inflicted to the cupcake during unboxing and staging (e.g. moving cupcakes from a box to tiered display stands)

There are many, many other ways in which a cupcake will meet its death... but that is for another guide.

The Best Cupcake Containers for Travel

If you want to protect a cupcake while you travel... all I can do is wish you good luck and warn you that there will be casualties. Cupcakes are, by default, delicate creatures. They do not take well to movement, bumping, vibrations, and other forms of light movement.

The best cupcake containers for travel are ones with high walls and a low footprint. You're most likely to see success if you only port one cupcake from one place to another. Why? Because you can hold that container in your hand and keep your eye on it the whole time.

The Range Kleen cupcake holder (which I personally own and use on a regular basis) is great for those times when you know there will be turbulence- it actually contains a little spike on the inside designed to hold the cake down and minimize damage. The Cupcake to Go Storage Container for one cupcake is a prettier option, and great for gifts.

If you're going to travel with multiple cupcakes at once, I suggest using a multi-tiered container that offers high walls around the cake portion of each cupcake to reduce movement. The Cupcake Courrier and the Progressive International models to the right are two great options.

It is important to go with multi-tiered cupcake containers when traveling because they are easier to carry- you can hold them closer to your body, and they are less likely to brush up against something else as you carry them around. What's more, taller stands are easier to snap into a seatbelt in a car or squeeze onto a car floor than their wider sisters, so they're less likely to go flying when you are forced to make a sudden stop while driving.

The Best Cupcake Containers for Extreme Temperatures

Alas, there is little a container can do to protect cupcakes from warm or cold temperatures, but the ones I've shared in the above section, plus the Oneida case to the right, have good, positive seals that can do some of the work.

The best thing you can do to protect cupcakes on the move is to keep them out of direct sunlight, away from high heat, and away from the fridge (refrigeration dries sponge cake out. If you must preserve cupcakes for a long period of time, freeze them). Cool, dark places are a cupcake's best friend.

The Best Cupcake Containers for Boxing / Unboxing

If you have fat fingers or lack the experienced finesse necessary for safe boxing and unboxing of cupcakes, you're going to want to use a container that minimizes the extent to which your fingers will have to reach around the icing to reach the cake part of the treat while moving the cupcake to and from its transport container.

Your best single cupcake option is the Cup-A-Cake cotnainer, which cracks open down the center, sparing you the danger of reaching around the icing altogether.

Your best multiple cupcake container option is the Wilton Ultimate, as it offers relatively more space between each cupcake, which reduces the risk of your fingers mussing up the icing.

The WORST Cupcake Containers

The worst cupcake container of all is just a plain old cake box without any special inserts. This is the sort of box in which I would carry home free leftover cupcakes at the end of the day. The problem with these boxes is that they are susceptible to heat, cold, the elements, and crushing. What's more, the only way you can prevent cupcakes from getting entirely messed up is to over-pack the boxes, and such cannot be done without causing damage to at least some of the cupcakes placed around the edges.

Single serve cardboard boxes for cupcakes are also a death warrant for any poor unsuspecting cupcake that might be placed inside them. Should the cake make it through the transport stage unharmed (unlikely- these boxes rarely provide any sort of internal support, so the cupcake is likely to slide around and smudge icing everywhere), it will almost certainly get smudged as the recipient attempts to remove the cake from the box.

Disposable boxes are just lame in general. What kind of environmentally sustainable choice is a single-use food container??? That said, the reusable Rubbermaid food storage container, which is apparently a popular Amazon buy for those looking for cupcake containers, is another bad idea. Though this container could be used for many sorts of dishes, it still means death and ruination for cupcakes, so stay away from it, kids. Stay away.

Comments

pib1000 on January 02, 2014:

Hello all, I have found this is brilliant if you live in the UK or Ireland :) http://bit.ly/1coTS6K

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on April 30, 2012:

I have no idea, Anya. But going with any box that is compostable is the MOST eco-friendly way to go :D

anya on April 15, 2012:

Thank you so much - very informative! I have been researching the DCI cupcake holders, but cannot figure out how many are in a package at the price of almost $12 on Amazon - do you know? If you have any other ideas for environmentally friendly individual boxes, I'd be very grateful - it's a great party favor. :)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on July 07, 2011:

Oh, that's awesome mareezy13! I'm a sucker for Martha Stewart merch... and I didn't know she had made a special cupcake container! How cool! And of course, how typical MSLO. :D

mareezy13 from Chicago, IL on July 07, 2011:

There is a great container by Martha Stewart I believe it is sold at Macy's. I love it, my cupcakes stay in place and the frosting is always perfect! Great hub I'm a big cupcake fan :)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on July 02, 2011:

That makes perfect sense to me, Chatkath- they're such fun treats. Thanks for stopping by!

Kathy from California on June 30, 2011:

Love those mini cakes! Always a hit, even with the guys who will usually choose chocolate! What an original and useful hub idea - I was Office Manager several years ago and that was the top request for our office birthday parties! Never one remaining.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on June 28, 2011:

Oh, how lovely! I'm glad you found the overview to be helpful. Thanks for reading!

anglnwu on June 28, 2011:

Thanks for the ultimate solution to transporting these tasty delicates. My daughter enjoys decorating cupcakes and often would take them to school to share. Now, no more tears, just plain joy when each cupcakes turn out at school, looking mighty fine. Rated up.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on June 27, 2011:

Oh, I remember those cupcake tragedies! I've seen so many trays upended in my day. One wants to cry... but... well... cupcakes are just delicate little creatures! Such is life.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on June 27, 2011:

This is a very helpful for people that are in the cupcake business. I worked part time at a cupcake cart for extra cash last summer. You are so right about all the many ways a cupcake can die. One time my co-worker dropped a huge tray of lemon cupcakes... the only lemon batch we had for the day... it was quite a cupcake tragedy. The cupcake business is pretty stressful!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on June 27, 2011:

I'm sure you'll be able to find them in Germany, Thelma Alberts. I'm pretty sure I've seen them in some of the German kitchen stores I've wandered through during my travels, and they really do make a difference!

I rather ADORE your mode of transportation, drbj. Brilliant! And far more fun.

And I wish, LiamBean! Martha Stewart is my Savior.

LiamBean from Los Angeles, Calilfornia on June 27, 2011:

Have you become a domestic goddess?

drbj and sherry from south Florida on June 27, 2011:

Thank you for the fascinating cupcake container compendium, Simone. I would add just one more mode of transportation to the mix.

Take one cupcake (at a time), carefully remove the outer paper packaging, insert in mouth, swallow, and voila! cupcake is now safely ensconced within with no danger from without.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on June 27, 2011:

Great hub. I did not know that there are cupcakes container for sale. Wow! I have to buy it for I always have a problem in transporting them. I just hope I can buy it here in Germany. Thanks for sharing.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on June 27, 2011:

Dude. I am SO going to make cupcakes for the office.

And I was giving them away to all my friends, MCHypno. I was in college at the time and loved to take them to my other jobs, not to mention all my classes, and just give them away. I became VERY popular, hahaa!

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on June 27, 2011:

I have to ask - what did you need 116 cupcakes at your apartment for? Interesting hub on cupcake containers - shows that forethought is needed!

Edward Zhang from Bay Area, CA on June 27, 2011:

Thanks for the offer Simone! The office always make use of some cupcakes for snacks ;)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on June 27, 2011:

Thanks ezhang! And heck, if you need cupcakes, let me know. I haven't had an excuse to make them in AGES.

Safe shipment of cupcakes, via mail, is an entirely different story, puter_dr :D

I worked for a cupcake shop as they perfected the process, and it is a very difficult one indeed! Most of the cost *does* go into packaging. Our process involved skewers in each cupcake for stability, freezing, and three different boxes with cold packs tucked in with one of the layers. Very intense stuff.

And you're so right, Beth100... while it is difficult enough to keep cupcakes-in-transit intact, it is an entirely more dangerous and difficult challenge to fight off the hungry hoards! Thanks for reading :D

Beth100 from Canada on June 27, 2011:

I have never had success in transporting my cupcakes! But the reason isn't smushing within the container.... it's because they meet their demise by hungry little hands BEFORE they can get transported to their destination!!

I quite often use the containers that my bakery supplies but they're not as visually nice as the ones that you suggest. :)

Thanks for the suggestions!

Mitch Bolen from Midwest USA on June 27, 2011:

I have friends with a cake shop, and they are always trying to figure out a way to safely ship a cupcake. Seems pretty nearly impossible.

Another local shop has these huge boxes that they deliver cupcakes in. When I say huge, think of a 10x10 cake box with a plastic insert to hold the cupcake away from the side. I am guessing most of the cost for their cupcakes is the packaging.

Edward Zhang from Bay Area, CA on June 27, 2011:

I wants more cupcake pictures!!! They look so yummy, and make my mouth water.......

On a more related note, great information for cupcake transportation. I'll use this hub as a reference if I ever need to buy a batch of cupcakes for whatever reason!

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