Around this time last year, I was starting up a new job at a bank outside Philadelphia, so I had to head into the city to dot Is and cross Ts. On my walk, I passed by the cheerfully decorated Philly Cupcake and couldn’t resist.
I asked my typical ingredients questions about gelatin and dairy sources and was informed that they had a small vegan selection. (Three is actually better than some other places that offer maybe one or none.)
However, I was curious if the other cupcakes were suitable for vegetarians such as myself, so I took a cue from vegan queen Sarah Kramer. Among her Travel Tips, Kramer suggests that you, “ask your server to check the ingredients or, better yet, ask them if you can check the ingredients. Every restaurant is legally bound to have an ingredients book on hand, so don’t take no for an answer. It’s your right as a customer to look at it because egg, whey powder, etc. are sometimes hidden ingredients in ‘veggie’ products.” (Vegan a Go-Go!, pg 25)
When I asked if I could see the ingredients, the man in the white chef’s jacket let out a chuckle, then a “no.” Technically, they’re not a restaurant. However, even sweets are food. So Philly Cupcake is an establishment selling prepared foods for human consumption. They shouldn’t be exempt.
Maybe I’m spoiled by bakeries like Sweet Freedom Bakery on South St who don’t think I should even have to ask; they put the ingredients lists right in the case.
Upon further discussion, the man noted that the regular icing has gelatin in it but actually said that kosher gelatin is vegetarian because it is so processed it’s not really fish anymore. Really? Seriously? (Let me know your views on the topic by commenting below.)
In the end, I did purchase a Vegan Peanut Butter and Jelly cupcake. So, take my advice: admire the facade, then move on. It’s nice for them to offer even a modest vegan selection, but the cupcake wasn’t really good enough for the doubt it fostered.