Skip to content

10 Catt. 1: In re Sweetbites

2012 June 6

CATTLEYA, J., delivered the opinion of the Cart. JEREMY, C.J., did not participate in the case.

The Chief Justice’s law clerk – no doubt under the instructions of the Chief Justice – sent to my chambers a newspaper article called “Forget cupcakes — pies are hot.”[1] Knowing as I do of the Chief Justice’s well-documented love for pie and hatred for cupcakes, his message was clear. The Supreme Cart had recently granted a writ of cartiorari, sua sponte, to review Sweetbites, a mobile café that serves cupcakes, and he regretted it. Well, Mr. Chief Justice, too bad. You of all persons should be aware of Rule of Procedure 2-2(b), which states that no grant of cartiorari “shall be subject to appeal or further review by this or any other tribunal.” Therefore, cartiorari is granted to Sweetbites on the question of its red velvet cupcake.

I. Chief Justice’s Recusal

First, I begin by calling upon the Chief Justice to recuse himself in this case. I trust that he will do so without any objection. Under 28 USC § 455, “[a]ny justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” If he is tempted to sit for this case, I gently remind him of his words in In re Dangerously Delicious Pies, 4 Catt. 4 (2011), a case in which we reviewed a mobile maker of his most beloved dessert, the pie. He stated, “[S]hould the case of any cupcake truck come before this Cart, I vow now, given my severe aversion to cupcakeries, to recuse myself.” Id. Mr. Chief Justice, you may do so now.

The Chief Justice has gotten it into his head that I, too, should recuse myself. He cites the same case, Dangerously Delicious Pies, as his support. Particularly, he points to my concurring opinion:

I list here, in advance, the elements that I look for in a cupcake: 1) a moist cake; 2) a buttercream frosting (fondant icing will never do); 3) a good cake-frosting ratio; and 4) a comforting flavor, like red velvet or chocolate hazelnut.

Dangerously Delicious Pies, 4 Catt. 4 (Cattleya, J., concurring). The Chief Justice points to my words as evidence that my impartiality is in question. To that I say: Pfui! It will be obvious to the reader that my words do not reflect any personal bias or prejudice. Saying that I will judge a cupcake by the moistness of its cake, creaminess of its frosting, and deliciousness of its flavor is merely a very, very specific way of saying that I will judge the cupcake by the standards of justice and fairness.

The Chief Justice calls for my recusal on other grounds as well. He has accused me of having a personal relationship with the party to this case. He describes an incident that I do not deny. One day, many months before this Cart granted cartiorari to Sweetbites, I was walking by the Sweetbites truck, which was parked in a metered parking space. The owner, having spotted me as the person closest to her truck at that very moment, handed me a couple of quarters and asked me to put them in the parking meter for her. I did, as any good Samaritan would have done. This interaction, which lasted no more than a few seconds, did not create a personal relationship and does not impair my ability to hear this case. Therefore, I do not recuse myself.


II. Street Food

Like other baked goods that have come before the Supreme Cart, Sweetbites’s cupcake is not street food. See Dangerously Delicious Pies, 4 Catt. 4; In re Eat Wonky (The Whoopie Pie Case), 2 Catt. 5 (2011). As we have stated time and time again, street food is “the kind[] of food[] that can be cooked in front of you and [is] meant to be eaten with your hands, without forks, while standing up.” Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5. Because a cupcake is not street food, Sweetbites has the burden to prove that its cupcake belongs on the street. See In re Big Cheese, 6 Catt. 2 (2012).

III. Red Velvet Cupcake

Red Velvet Cupcake

Sweetbites describes its version of a red velvet cupcake as “extra smooth, extra rich and extra velvety, topped with luscious just-sweet-enough vanilla buttercream frosting.” Sweetbites does not lie. Its red velvet cupcake checked off all the boxes on my list:

1) A moist cake.

The cake was light and fluffy, and its freshness was evident. This cupcake did not come from a huge batch that was baked days and days ago and has been aging on a shelf.

2)  Buttercream frosting.

No fondant here! The sweet, creamy frosting was airy and balanced the rich flavor of the cake.

3) A good cake-frosting ratio.

The cake was topped with enough frosting that I couldn’t take a bite without getting a little smear of frosting on the tip of my nose. At the same time, there was not too much frosting; I did not feel like I  had gotten a serving of frosting with a small side of cake.

4) A comforting flavor, like red velvet.

Red velvet is a popular flavor at present. (Even IHOP has turned it into a pancake flavor. There’s also a brick-and-mortar cupcakery named Red Velvet in the area.) Sweetbites does not unnecessarily tinker with this tried and true flavor. It does the red velvet flavor faithfully, and it does it well.


Sweetbites’s red velvet cupcake does not disappoint. At $3, it’s priced comparably with other mobile and immobile cupcakeries. Curbside Cupcakes (another cupcake truck) likewise charges $3 per cupcake, and Red Velvet (a brick-and-mortar bakery) charges a bit more at $3.25 per cupcake. Although $3 may seem like a high price for a small baked good, it’s worth it if you don’t want to bake your own batch of cupcakes and you’re just looking for a once-in-a-while treat.


[1] The newspaper article appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California is outside the Supreme Cart’s jurisdiction, which is limited to (a) Arlington, Virginia, (b) DC, and (c) Alexandria, Virginia. In addition, the article was published in the beginning of 2011, well over one year ago. For these reasons and others, the newspaper article was easily dismissed as unpersuasive and, in fact, completely irrelevant.

Comments are closed.