If Tinkerbell and Peter Max had a love child, and its godmother—no doubt a fairy godmother—was Betty Crocker, that blissed-out baby might be Whodidily Cupcakes. For while they serve delish baked delights, there’s also the state of mind that the store’s owner Wendy Jones hopes to imbue: “Willy Wonkaish with a dollop of Dr. Seuss” pledges the Web site, but Jones goes even further, claiming, “People don’t just come for a cupcake—they come for happiness.”
But there’s lots more to the Whodidily story, especially now that the Coast Village Road shop has celebrated its second anniversary and a downtown Santa Barbara store should open in time for Halloween (location hint: Think Paseo Nuevo). Jones sees the establishment as a kind of old-time village center. “As our business has grown, people come in and talk, ask how things are going, and then buy a cupcake for someone else,” Jones explained. “That’s one reason I want our customer service to be impeccable. But then, with the service and the frou-frou packaging, people think [the cupcake] won’t be good. But then they are surprised.”
Upon first bite, tasters often exclaim words they might not say in mixed company, starting with the cupcakes being sinful, but frequently eaters like to specify the sin, often quite graphically. And why not when letting something like a peanut butter yumptious come in contact with one’s taste buds? We’re talking a peanut butter cup baked into a chocolate cake, and that’s topped with peanut butter cream frosting. Rich isn’t the word.
But Jones, a mother of three girls ages 12, 10, and two-and-a-half, knows cupcakes, from however magical a store, must have their place. “My kids are only allowed to have two cupcakes a week,” she said. “But everyone’s going to have a treat several times a week. We’re huge fans of Backyard Bowls—we believe in a healthy lifestyle.” That’s true to the point that because of customer demand, the store is now making gluten-free treats. Jones added, “The input of clients is huge. I’m not just in my own pink, sparkly world.”
Both the amazing treats and Jones’s perkiness no doubt helped land the store—twice—on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. “It’s reality TV, and reality is not only reality,” Jones explained. “We’re really grateful for the show, and it was really fun and great, but that’s enough. It was really stressful. The show is really geared toward drama and not so much baking.”
Since Whodidily’s inventory is fresh daily, baking is what the Joneses are all about. “We really take pride in our work,” Jones insisted. “My husband is a fantastic baker. I’m the froster. We’re in the store every day. It takes a lot to bake fresh every day, but we’re excited there’s a demand for it and customers call for it. Every month our numbers keep growing. Even if pigs are flying, people buy cupcakes.”
As for all the gloriously goofy names, that’s just Jones’s way. “I’ve always been kind of silly,” she said. “I’ve always called my girls ‘little whipper-snapper.’ I’m continually joking around and making little silly names around home, so a lot of the cupcakes reflect names around our household.” And why should the tasteful not also be playful? Hence, Whodidily will soon be baking cupcakes like the Apple of My Eye and S’more Please.
Originally from Bakersfield, Jones is pleased to have found the same sort of small-town feel in Santa Barbara and said that she hopes to give back to the community and make a small difference with her work. “We just wanted to make a decent living and live near the beach,” she said. “The first year we had no employees and no help, and we now have seven employees. Sometimes we even feel guilty our business is growing while the economy is sad. But even then, you can afford a cupcake.”
Wonder at the whimsy of Whodidily Cupcakes, 1150 Coast Village Road, Suite E. Call 969-9808 or see whodidily.com.