I was pretty excited about the Hackerspace Cupcake Challenge until I realized that I wasn’t part of a Hackerspace, and it would not be feasible to join or make my own. Under these circumstances, I decided to host my own little Cupcake Challenge, and create a batch of cupcakes paired with a fun, easy, and cheap packaging strategy.

**Idea: **

  • Make a cupcake pod for each cupcake. Mostly because I like the idea of each cupcake travelling in its own vessel.
  • Make cupcakes square so corners are better anchors
  • Use some sort of toothpick to anchor (either sticking through the side or pushing down)

 

Rejected Ideas:

  • Use one of those round, plastic expanding ball toys and anchor each cupcake into a hole (frosted side inward) and anchor cupcakes from the sides
  • Put cupcakes inside of a gerbil wheel, and fill the entire center with sprinkles as a “packaging filler.” When it gets there, simply open up ball, pour out sprinkles, and remove cupcakes.
  • Bake cupcakes into something that could make them more egg shaped, and use an egg carton
  • Make a “cupcake hat” out of something hard and plastic, and place over cakes in a standard, rectangular box.
  • Cupcakes in a tube didn’t seem like a great idea.

Procedure:

**1. **Make cupcakes, put into paper liners. To make them square, instead of using a standard pan, I just put the liners together into a square one.

**2. **Bake in the oven. Cupcakes usually take 10-15 minutes, but I would definitely check earlier as opposed to later!

**3. **Remove from the oven, and when they are cool enough to touch, remove from the pan.

**4. **Prepare Pods! Each cupcake will be nestled into the bottom of the foam cup, anchored in by small forks (that I found in the toothpick section at the market).

**5. **This shows my testing of the anchoring technique that I used, and yes, this pod is being held upside-down! Once you are confident about your strategy, frost the cupcakes, and apply sprinkles, of course.

**6. **Place each cupcake superficially in a pod, and using two forks grasptg the outer shell, push the cupcake down. The forks should act like little prongs to hold it in, and possibly can be manipulated to help lift it out again.

7. The cupcake in the center is ready to be pushed down, while the one off to the left has already been anchored. The next picture shows the army of anchored cupcakes. What isn’t shown is the extra two prongs that were criss crossed and pierced through the foam cup to hold it down (see step 5).

**8. **For packaging, I decided to cover them with a piece of aluminum, tape it down, and then package them, tops together, in groups of 2. I then placed each podlet into a padded envelope.

**9. **The packages are ready! I included instructions in each about documenting the opening, etc. I will post results here as they come in!

RESULTS

**1) North Carolina **to **Rhode Island: **665 miles, estimated travel time: 3-4 days

For this package, I have to admit that I ruined an entire pod before even sending it out. I made the mistake of trying to drop three packages at once into the big metal, swinging “drop box” at the post office. Let’s just say that it didn’t swing open again, and I immediately knew that one of my packages was stuck. When I tried to move it back, I felt the awful crunch / smash of one of my parcels, but I had to go through with the damage, or else all of the packages wouldn’t fall through, and I’m sure the next person would apply a significant amount of force and potentially chop one of my parcels entirely in half. There was no one to help at the post office at 5:00am on a weekday, so I had to take matters into my own hands, and clunk the handle around until it finally wiggled through. The result is the damaged shipment below, but I’m still grateful that it arrived in one piece! I have included my brother’s comments, as they are super awesome :O) His removal technique is as well!

An interesting package has arrived in the mail. Inside, a pair of "cupcake pods" and a message! Opening the first of the two cupcake pods to see what is inside... Now fully open, what is to be found? Oh no! It's, it's... dead! This poor cupcake did not survive the journey inside the pod, it seems. A second pod still remains. It will now be opened... Inside, an intact cupcake! But, it is stuck! Can it be removed without suffering any damage? Drastic measures are taken. The bottom of the pod must be perforated to free the trapped cupcake. Success! An intact cupcake is extricated from its former pod. The tale ends. One cupcake survived, one did not, but it ultimately doesn't matter because both shall suffer the same fate anyway (be eaten).

2) North Carolina **to **New Hampshire: 724 miles, estimated travel time: 3-4 days. The videos below show my parents unpacking the parcel, in their very cute way :O)

3) North Carolina **to California: **2,543 miles, estimated travel time, 4 days. Arrived! Looks pretty good for that many miles! Thank you US Postal Service!