"2 Broke Girls," a new sitcom from CBS, is reminiscent of "Laverne and Shirley" mixed with a little "Odd Couple" for added drama. The girl-girl buddy comedy portion of the show gets an update, trading in Milwaukee for New York City and the working class ethic of a brewing company for a generic restaurant.
Much like the theme song from "Laverne and Shirley," which declared, "Making our dreams come true for me and you," "2 Broke Girls" features Max and Caroline brewing a dream of their own: a cupcake business. As the season has progressed, the two become dollars and cents closer to the enigmatic funding goal of $250,000, which Caroline reveals at the tail end of the pilot episode.
Exactly how she landed on that figure is somewhat of a mystery. The show's writers explain it away with Caroline's reveal that she went to business school. In the next scene, she admits she's been secretly price-gouging Max's red velvet cupcakes at $7 a pop.
This is the first fallacy in the show's portrayal of the cupcake scene in New York City or anywhere else. No one is selling cupcakes for $7. The top shops in the city peddling the sweet confections are arguably Crumbs Bake Shop, which debuted on NASDAQ in June of last year, and Magnolia Bakery, made famous by its notorious endorsement in "Sex and the City." Both are selling cupcakes between $3 and $4.50, depending on the amount of sugar they're topped with. $7 is almost double that price.
It makes you wonder what other business-savvy nonsense Caroline is spewing. In a later episode, she pines, "I really need this cupcake business," as if it's the one thing that will propel her back into the cushy existence previously afforded by her father, who has since been busted a la Bernie Madoff. In reality, however, there's probably a better way to invest $250,000 in a business paradigm that isn't as mint as it was a few years ago.
The cupcake boom began in cities like New York and L.A. and peaked circa 2007, the beginning of the current recession. But by that time, Crumbs had already been winning taste buds over for four years, and Magnolia Bakery was reality-TV-star famous. Maybe two upstarts with shoddy financial projections and no business plan could have nudged a way in back then, but you need a little more than a tasty treat to make a quarter-million-dollar investment pay off in 2011 and beyond. The cupcake "bubble" can't last forever.
While CRMB was at over $13 a share over the summer, it currently sits at a depressing $5.11 on NASDAQ. It might be a better investment for "2 Broke Girls" to buy $100,000 in cupcake shares and spend the difference on coming up with a better business idea.