25 Things Turning 25 This Year

Getty Images/Wikimedia Commons

If 2015 marks your quarter-century of life, you're in great company. Humans in 1990 saw their place in the cosmos, along with some of the best cultural moments of a decade that would see the dot-com boom, the rise of Generation X, and so much more. Here are 25 things turning 25 in 2015. (And in case you missed it, we also have 30 Things Turning 30 in 2015!)

1. Pale Blue Dot (Photograph)

By Voyager 1 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 to take photos of Jupiter, Saturn, and their moons. By 1980, the spacecraft had completed its initial mission and was on its way to interstellar space. Carl Sagan requested one last photo of Earth that year, but the idea was panned by some at NASA for fear that it might damage Voyager 1's cameras to take a photo facing the Sun. It wasn't for another decade that NASA took the 60 frames that compose the Family Portrait, one of which features Earth as a partial-pixel blue dot. The images were collected on Valentine's Day 1990, and transmitted back to Earth between March and May of the same year. In the same way the Blue Marble photograph gave humanity a new way to think about our planet (as seen from the moon), Pale Blue Dot gave us a sense of the vastness of space.

In 1994, Sagan would use the title for his book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space. A passage from his audio narration of the book (read shortly before he died) eventually led to many internet video mashups, like this one from Michael Marantz:


2. Hubble Space Telescope

On April 24, 1990, Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-31 launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. The telescope had been planned for a much earlier launch, but the Challenger disaster of 1986 had derailed it (along with many other NASA projects). Shortly after the telescope came online, it became clear that there was a tiny (but serious) flaw in the primary mirror used to collect images. In December 1993, a service mission installed COSTAR, which was sort of like a set of corrective lenses to fix the problem.

Named for astronomer Edwin Hubble, the Hubble Space Telescope has taken huge numbers of photographs (currently downlinking over 120 GB of data each week), much of it available via HubbleSite or the rather more technical Hubble Legacy Archive. There were some remarkable new images released for the 25th anniversary.


3. The Biggest Art Theft in History

"The Concert," Johannes Vermeer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A little after midnight on March 18, 1990, two men dressed as police officers removed 13 works of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The theft included major works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and Manet, as well as an ancient Chinese vessel. In total, the heist was worth more than $500 million (leading some to estimate this as the largest single private property theft in history). The pieces have not been recovered, and the theft appears in lots of TV shows, including an episode of Drunk History. (We also wrote a story about it.)


4. WHO Stops Treating Homosexuality as a Disease

On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization removed "homosexuality" from its International Classification of Diseases. This was a milestone in the slow change toward public acceptance of homosexuality (and ultimately other variants of LGBTQ identifications). The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA) later declared May 17 The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.


5. Twin Peaks

April 8, 1990 is seared into TV viewers' memories as the day Twin Peaks debuted, with its damn fine coffee, brilliant music, and surreal genre-twisting magic. Simply the fact that a David Lynch/Mark Frost-produced show was broadcast on a major network (ABC) was one thing; the reality that is was so weird and good was enough to generate a cult following. The series is so beloved that it's coming back in 2016, inspired by a line uttered by Laura Palmer during the series: "I'll see you again in 25 years."


6. Nickelodeon Studios and Universal Studios Florida

By Mikerajchel [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

On the other end of the TV-quality spectrum, Nickelodeon Studios debuted in June 1990 as a combination TV studio-slash-amusement park, all contained within Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Oh yeah, that reminds me—Universal Studios Florida opened the same day. Here's a video from the Back to the Future ride (now closed), showing, among other things, a journey to 2015. (The actual ride experience starts around 2:20.)

Two years after opening, Nickelodeon Studios buried a very-'90s time capsule. Due to the closure of the studio, the time capsule has been relocated to Nickelodeon Suites Resort in Orlando, with plans to open it in 2042. We will bring you live coverage when that happens.


7. The First HDTV Broadcast

In Europe, HDTV became a thing years before it reached the U.S. (and for the record, Japan was way ahead of everybody else—but their early broadcasts tended to be more experimental). Italian broadcaster RAI brought HDTV to Europe with the FIFA World Cup in 1990. Matches were shown in movie theaters due to the technology required, and after a few more years of experimentation, HDTV broadcasting in Europe was dropped until 2004.

Incidentally, West Germany won the World Cup on July 8, 1990. Which leads us to....


8. The Reunification of Germany

By Thomas Wolf, (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Although Germans tend to call the event die Wende (translation: "the turn"), most of the rest of us remember 1990's merger of West Germany and East Germany as "the reunification of Germany." After the Berlin Wall began to fall in 1989, the two Germanys found plenty of reasons to merge (not least the collapse of East Germany's economy). Throughout the year, efforts were made to unify the countries, including their currencies, culminating in a treaty signed on August 31, 1990 and fully enacted on October 3, 1990. One bummer resulting from this process: only one German team could compete in the next FIFA World Cup in 1994. The German team in 1994 was knocked out by Bulgaria in the Quarter-finals.


9. Nelson Mandela Released from Prison

South Africa The Good News / [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Nelson Mandela spent 27 years imprisoned by the apartheid government of South Africa; he was released in 1990 and became the first democratically-elected President of South Africa in 1994 after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize (with F.W. de Klerk) in 1993. A lifelong opponent of apartheid, Mandela achieved tremendous success after an incredible period of time as a political prisoner.


10. The First Web Page

Awkwardly modern screenshot by Chris Higgins

Tim Berners-Lee wrote a proposal for what would become the World Wide Web in 1989, but had to build a lot of tools and protocols in order to make it go. By Christmas 1990, all of the initial tools were in place, and he proceeded to write the first Web page, describing the World Wide Web itself.

The original copy is now lost—Web archives weren't really a thing before there was a Web—but in 2013, the earliest known copy of that page (dating to 1992) was discovered on a floppy disk and put back online. You can visit that page, though you should keep in mind that it's not quite the first. But close. Note: it's from a time before the Web had cool stuff like images.


11. Sue, the Best T. rex Fossil

By Connie Ma from Chicago, United States of America [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Sue is now a fossil, but quite a while back she was a living, breathing Tyrannosaurus rex. What makes her remarkable is that she's the largest, most complete T. rex fossil we have, and she was unearthed in 1990.

Sue's discovery was the result of an amazing accident. The fossil was discovered (and named for) Sue Hendrickson, who was working with a team of researchers in the badlands of South Dakota. They were leaving their site one day when a flat tire disabled their vehicle. Hendrickson proceeded to explore the area and noticed some interesting bones—which turned out to be Sue.

It took two and a half years to assemble Sue, who stands 13 feet tall and is 41 feet long. Her teeth are as long as human forearms. You can see her at The Field Museum.


12. The Game Genie

By Evan-Amos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Nintendo gamers remember 1990 as the year the Game Genie, a system for "enhancing" (also called "cheating") in home video games, was released. It initially shipped only in Canada due to a legal battle, but quickly came to the United States.

The Game Genie was a weird device; users had to cram it into their Nintendos (and later other systems), then place the game cartridge into a slot within the Genie. Upon startup, the user could then input a series of letters (a "code") that would change gameplay—offering extra lives, invulnerability, special weapons, or other changes. These codes modified the game code at runtime, so they were akin to simply changing some counter (like "How many lives remain") to a new number. Often, codes could be discovered at random, through a laborious process of trial and error, and new codes are still being discovered today.

For more on the Game Genie, see my overly-detailed 2012 article How Did the Game Genie Work?


13. Super Mario Bros. 3

Released in the U.S. on February 12, 1990 (though Japanese fans got it way back in 1988!), Super Mario Bros. 3 was the culmination of what was technically possible on the Nintendo Entertainment System. After the smash hit Super Mario Bros. (bundled with the NES) and the slightly confusing Super Mario Bros. 2, SMB 3 was universally praised as a terrific game, and it sold phenomenally well—about $1.7 billion in today's dollars.

SMB 3 was featured in the movie The Wizard, and it is technically possible to complete the game in three minutes (using serious trickery).


14. The (Amended) Clean Air Act

In 1989, President Bush proposed major changes to the Clean Air Act, which had first been passed way back in 1970. The changes, enacted in 1990, had to do with acid rain, ozone depletion, air quality (smog) in cities, and regulations on gasoline formulations. Some of these changes were spurred by the recent discovery of a hole in the ozone layer and international plans to deal with it.


15. Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man

Spider-Man #1 (cropped cover).

In 1990, after working on Amazing Spider-Man for dozens of issues, Todd McFarlane was sick of drawing stories written by other people. He told his boss he wanted to quit illustrating Amazing Spider-Man, so he could pursue other projects. In a surprise move, McFarlane's boss offered him a brand new comic book, entitled simply Spider-Man, which McFarlane proceeded to write and illustrate (at least its first 14 issues). The "Torment" story arc was a smash hit, and was part of a revitalization of the comics industry in the '90s.

McFarlane's experience with Spider-Man would lead to the creation of Image Comics, publishing excellent titles like Spawn.


16. Home Alone, and a ton of other awesome movies

Tons of instant classics came out in 1990, including:


Dances with Wolves

Dick Tracy

Edward Scissorhands



Home Alone

The Hunt for Red October



Pretty Woman


17. The First McDonald's in Moscow

On the morning of January 31, 1990, the first McDonald's in Moscow opened its doors. The line to get in was insane (see video above), with more than 5000 people waiting for Big Macs. That day, the restaurant served over 30,000 patrons, setting a sales record (this was made possible by virtue of the restaurant being positively huge—there were 700 seats available opening day). Throughout 1990, more locations opened in Eastern Europe. The following year, the Soviet Union was dissolved. Coincidence?


18. Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park novel (cropped cover).

Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park was a standout book of 1990, at least for me. But the same year, James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential came out, along with Elmore Leonard's Get Shorty, and Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Ultimatum. Notice a theme? They were all adapted into movies.

On the nonfiction side, Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine published Last Chance to See. Eleven years after its publication, Adams gave a beautiful lecture about the book, just days before he died.


19. In Living Color

In Living Color was a sketch comedy show on Fox featuring the Wayans family, plus a bunch of comedians who would go on to become famous: Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson, and David Alan Grier, among others. It also featured "The Fly Girls," a dance troupe choreographed by Rosie Perez and including Jennifer Lopez (!). The show was a huge deal for a few years, then fizzled out in 1994. Here's an example of Jim Carrey in an early role as Fire Marshall Bill:

Bonus: Some other shows debuting in 1990 (aside from the previously mentioned Twin Peaks) included TaleSpin, Wings and Northern Exposure. Some lists include The Simpsons as starting in 1990, but its first episode (a Christmas special) aired in 1989.


20. Jennifer Lawrence, and a bunch of other awesome people

By Kurt Kulac (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Jennifer Lawrence was just one awesome person who was born in 1990. Here's a list of notables:

Liam Hemsworth, January 13

Kristen Stewart, April 9

Emma Watson, April 15

Dev Patel, April 23

Princess Eugenie of York, March 23

Chris Colfer, May 27

Iggy Azalea, June 7

Margot Robbie, July 2

Rafael and Fabio da Silva, July 9

Damian Lillard, July 15

Soulja Boy, July 28

Jonathan Lipnicki, October 22

Rita Ora, November 26

Chanel Iman, December 1


21. Jamba Juice

Jamba Juice launched in San Luis Obispo, California in April of 1990. From humble beginnings, the franchise now has over 800 locations, which eventually led to my favorite David Letterman gag of all time: "How Many Guys in Spider-Man Suits Can Fit Into Jamba Juice?"

Bonus: Other brands launched in 1990 include The California Wine Club, Lucky Brand Jeans, and Roxy.


22. Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Martha Stewart Living started its print run in 1990 with a winter preview/test issue. The next year it was picked up as a quarterly magazine, which was, followed in 1993 by the TV show of the same name. Focused on Martha Stewart's skill in the "domestic arts," MSL became a hit, and started publishing monthly. The Martha Stewart Omnimedia empire today is a bit more diverse, with various TV shows, home products, books, and more.

Bonus: Entertainment Weekly and Nickelodeon Magazine (the latter initially distributed at Pizza Hut locations) also launched in 1990.


23. Pearl Jam

By "Lugnuts" (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pearl Jam officially formed in 1990, after the death of Andrew Wood, singer in the band Mother Love Bone. In Pearl Jam's first gigs, the band was known as Mookie Blaylock (yes, after the basketball player), but renamed themselves late in the year when they signed a record contract. The next year they would record Ten, which just happened to be Mookie Blaylock's jersey number.

Bonus: Other bands formed in 1990: Ace of Base, Blessid Union of Souls, Blind Melon, Brooks & Dunn, Kris Kross, The Prodigy, Tool, and The Brian Setzer Orchestra.

Extra Bonus: 1990 is when news broke that Milli Vanilli didn't actually sing their hit songs, and lip-synched them when performed live. Their Best New Artist Grammy was taken back when the scandal broke.


24. Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon

The video game Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon was released for DOS in 1990 (you can now download it for free), ushering in an empire of Sid Meier simulation games. In the game, the player acts as (surprise!) a railroad owner who manages railroads and trains, acting as a sort of SimCity for railroads. The game was a huge hit, and led to a series of similar simulation games, the most famous probably being Sid Meier's Civilization.

Bonus: Other notable games released in 1990 include Dr. Mario, Mega Man 3, Super Mario World, King's Quest V, Commander Keen: Invasion of the Vorticons Episode 1, and the first Final Fantasy game for the NES in America.


25. The Chunnel Breakthrough

By Mortadelo2005 (Image:Course Channeltunnel en.png, by Weyoune) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

The Channel Tunnel (or "Chunnel") was a project two centuries in the making. From its first proposal in 1802, the idea was to tunnel under the English Channel, connecting England and France. Work didn't begin until 1987, when the UK began boring of the tunnel (the French started early the next year).

On December 1, 1990, the two ends met as workers broke through a final piece of rock, and British and French tunnelers shook hands through the opening (video, sadly, not embeddable). Although the tunnel wouldn't open formally until 1994, this breakthrough marked the first time the Chunnel was a reality, 188 years after the idea was first floated.

Courtesy Maxie B's
25 Cupcake Bakeries You've Got to Try
Courtesy Maxie B's
Courtesy Maxie B's

While it's difficult to improve upon perfection, bakers are constantly putting new twists on cupcakes. These bakeries showcase the latest trends and the classic style we all know and love.


A chocolate cupcake from Baked & Wired in Washington, D.C.
m01229, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Baked & Wired is where Georgetown locals go when they’re hankering for something sweet. In 2001, owners Tony and Teresa Velazquez were running a graphics studio out of the same location when they realized they wanted to expand to baked goods and coffee (hence the name Baked & Wired). They offer a variety of unique “cakecup” flavors with equally unique names, like the Pretty Bitchin’, Chocolate Cupcake of Doom (above), and Uniporn and Rainho. They also offer a vegan Oreo cakecup.


A blueberry muffin topped with frosting and a piece of bacon from The Copper Hen.
Courtesy The Copper Hen

The Copper Hen—a restaurant and wedding venue that serves farm-to-table food and desserts—offers a variety of cupcakes, including miniatures, individual-sized cakes in mason jars you can keep, and cakes that come with a pipette of booze for infusing. Two must-tries are the top selling Champagne Cupcake and the Bacon Blueberry Breakfast Cupcake, a streusel crumb cake layered with bacon and blueberries (as if we needed an excuse to have cupcakes for breakfast). The Copper Hen also sells a chocolate gluten-free cupcake with buttercream frosting.


Two trays of cupcakes from Muddy's Bake Shop.
Kat Gordon

Muddy’s Bake Shop has two locations in Memphis and East Memphis, plus a “secret kitchen,” closed to the public, where they hold classes and pop-up shops. This small-batch, home-style bakery cares about making their community a better place by using sustainable practices and supporting local charities. Owner Kat Gordon says the cupcake that started it all is her best-selling Prozac—a classic devil’s food chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. If you’re into making cupcakes but hate doing dishes, Muddy's will ship you a DIY kit featuring the Prozac and Capote cupcakes. The kit includes six plain cupcakes in each flavor, two bags of frosting, and sprinkles.


A chocolate cupcake topped with caramel popcorn and frosting.
Courtesy Kyra's Bakery

Every item at Kyra’s Bake Shop—the only four-time winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars—is 100 percent gluten-free. The menu is updated monthly and posted on the website so customers can plan their visits around the featured cupcake flavors. Owner Kyra Bussanich recommends trying the PMS, a chocolate cake filled with salted caramel, dipped in chocolate ganache, and topped with marshmallow meringue and peanut butter buttercream frosting. But check the menu because, she says, “it only happens once a month.” You can purchase Kyra’s recipe book, Sweet Cravings, to bake all of her award-winning cupcakes and other treats at home.


Push pop cupcakes of various flavors from Forever Sweet Bakery.
Courtesy Forever Sweet Bakery

Locals have voted Forever Sweet Bakery the area’s best bakery four years in a row. Forever Sweet specializes in custom cakes and serves all kinds of mouthwatering cupcake flavors, from Beer Batter Bacon to Banana Honey Cinnamon. You can walk into their shop to purchase a treat from the case, or you can order ahead for one of their “outside the box” styles, like a cupcake push-pop—vanilla cake layered between globs of frosting that will be sure to make you feel like a kid again.


A cupcake that looks like a piece of sushi.
Courtesy Cupcake Sushi

These bite-sized, patent-pending cupcakes are hand-rolled and can be eaten with chopsticks, just like real sushi. Owner Lori Shubert started Cupcake Sushi after trying to create a smaller cupcake that didn’t lose flavor. Since traditional paper tends to dry out the cake, she experimented with scooping out the center of normal cupcakes and rolling her buttercream frosting around it. These sweet treats are offered only in Florida at select retail locations for now, but the company will soon offer franchise opportunities. You can also order these little gems online—Shubert recommends trying the Key Lime, Triple Chocolate, and Red Velvet.


A chocolate cupcake topped with a piece of brownie and chocolate sauce from Dia Doce bakery.
Courtesy Dia Doce

Dia Doce (“Sweet Day” in Portuguese) has won numerous local awards, including “Best of the Main Line,” and also took first place on the Food Network show Cupcake Wars. You can see their green cupcake truck at local festivals or pop into their brick-and-mortar location in West Chester. Sustainability is important to owner Thais da Silva Viggue, so the shop uses seasonal ingredients whenever possible. Dia Doce has created more than 100 unusual cupcakes, from Lemon Basil to Cereal and Milk to Waffle Cone. That last one features vanilla cake with a fudge center, salted caramel frosting, and a garnish of a waffle drizzled with a bittersweet ganache and rainbow sprinkles.


Delicious, bundt-cake shaped cupcakes on a tray.
Courtesy Nothing Bundt Cakes

Nothing Bundt Cakes was started in 1997 by two friends, Dena Tripp and Debbie Shwetz. They began baking cakes for friends and family, and they received so many compliments that they realized they could launch an entire bakery. While their signature items are full-size bundt cakes, they do offer bite-sized Bundtinis and mini bundt cakes called Bundtlets. You have to try the Chocolate Chocolate Chip— with more than 220 bakeries throughout the country, you might be lucky enough to find a location within driving distance.


Cupcake bombs from Baked Dessert Cafe.
Courtesy of Baked Dessert Cafe

Baked is a made-from-scratch bakery that produces a whole line of delicious items, but customers rave about the cafe's cupcake bombs—an all-natural twist on the popular cake pop (which are usually dipped in artificially-flavored chocolate). They offer a few standard flavors every day, like the popular Chocolate Cake with chocolate icing, and rotate in a few seasonal flavors (like fall's Apple Spice).


A container of four cupcakes from Nadia Cakes.
m01229, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Owner Abby Jimenez opened her first Nadia Cakes in Palmdale in 2009, and since then, has won a number of awards and opened two Minnesota stores in Maple Grove and Woodbury. Nadia Cakes offers cupcakes that are both whimsical and delicious (there's even one called Unicorn Barf that looks surprisingly tasty). Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to visit when the featured flavor is Caramel Red Velvet Junkyard, a moist red velvet cupcake filled with fudge and topped with caramel buttercream, caramel and chocolate drizzle, M&M’s, Oreo and red velvet crumbs, rainbow sprinkles, and a mini Oreo.


A side-by-side photo of Maxie B's s'more cupcake—one whole, one cut in half.
Courtesy Maxie B's

Maxie B’s began in 1985 as a yogurt shop but evolved into the cute bakery that it is today. Named after the owners’ pugs, this shop offers dog treats (pupcakes!) as well as people treats. Oozing with the southern charm you would expect from a North Carolina bakery, they are best known for their layered cakes, but have a scrumptious assortment of pies and, of course, cupcakes. The cupcake menu changes seasonally, and all of Maxie B's items are always made from scratch with locally sourced ingredients. Some seasonally popular varieties to try are the S’mores, the Streuseled Sweet Potato, and the Harry Potter-inspired Butterbeer. They also offer southern flavors like King Cake, Sweet Tea, and Mint Julep.


A creme brulee cupcake from Huascar & Co.
Erin McCarthy

Huascar & Co., located in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, is owned by Chef Huascar Aquino—the only NYC baker, so far, to have won Cupcake Wars. The bakery uses the freshest ingredients to craft its cupcakes; there are 19 flavors served every day, with many stuffed decadently with cream. You can expect two to three additional flavors that will rotate with the seasons. One of their most popular cupcakes is the Crème Brûlée, a vanilla bean cake with vanilla bean crème brûlée filling, vanilla icing, and a sugar crust that is torched when you order it.


The Cookie Dough Cupcake from Happycakes.
Courtesy of Happycakes:)

Happycakes is an award-winning bakery located in Morehead City (a second location in Cary, North Carolina, is opening soon). They use all-natural ingredients and avoid food dyes and artificial flavors. Every cupcake in the shop is made fresh each morning, and the flavors change daily; there's even a schedule on the Happycakes website so you can time your visit. One of the most popular flavors is Cookie Dough, a vanilla cake with a homemade cookie dough center, swirled in a vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream frosting, and topped with a homemade cookie. And don’t feel guilty about buying a dozen, because 10 percent of every sale is donated to a charity that fights sex trafficking in the Philippines. Charitable and delicious.


The interior of Pinkitzel Cupcakes & Candy in Oklahoma City.
Elizabeth Albert, Flickr, CC BY SA 2.0

Pinkitzel's two locations are full of eye candy and actual candy. The whimsical and colorful spaces are exactly what husband-and-wife owners Christa and Jonathan were hoping to achieve. Since opening in 2010, their shops have served more than half a million cupcakes and has become one of Oklahoma’s top destinations on TripAdvisor. If you’re lucky enough to live nearby, you can host your next birthday party or bridal shower there and expect to blow your guests away. Almost every cupcake is topped with candy and sprinkles, and flavors range from Bubblegum Cupcake to Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake to Peanut Butter Nutella.


Two cupcakes from Molly's Cupcakes in Chicago.
Jaysin Trevino, Flickr // CC BY SA 2.0

John Nicolaides’s third grade teacher, Miss Molly, baked cupcakes for her students’ birthdays; now, he’s giving back with his bakery, Molly’s Cupcakes, which donates a portion of its profits to local schools. Visitors can pick from pre-prepared cupcakes, like the cream-filled peach cobbler (vanilla cake, cinnamon peach puree, brown sugar streusel, homemade whipped cream, sliced peach), or go the DIY route, choosing their own base and frosting, and finishing up at the Sprinkle Station. You can find Molly’s in New York, in Des Moines and Sioux City, Iowa, and in two locations in Chicago.


Four Strawberry Champagne cupcakes from Bredenbeck's.
Courtesy Bredenbeck's

If you’re a Pennsylvania native, you may be familiar with this family-owned bakery, which was founded back in 1889. Bredenbeck’s is a popular choice when it comes to Philadelphia delicacies like butter cake and German cookies, and their cupcakes made fresh from scratch every day are a local favorite. They favor quality, not quantity, when it comes to their cupcake flavors: You'll find only a few varieties in the shop at a time, but they do rotate seasonal and holiday favorites. One of their most popular cupcakes is the Strawberry Champagne, a vanilla cake filled with strawberry champagne compote and topped in strawberry buttercream frosting.


The sign of the cupcake bakery Trophy Cupcakes and Party.
Jessica Spengler, Flickr // CC BY SA 2.0

At Trophy's five Seattle locations, customers can buy cupcakes from the case or pre-order a themed dozen. Try the “I Love the 80’s,” which features cupcakes topped with cassette tapes, roller skates, and rainbows. For a limited time, customers can pre-order the “Trophy’s 10th Birthday,” a funfetti cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, topped with a macaron, lollipop, marshmallow, meringue kiss, white chocolate-covered pretzel, animal cookies, cotton candy, donut holes, and Trophy’s own blue candies. Whew. At $12.50 a pop, they’re worth every penny.


House of Cupcakes' red velvet cupcakes.
Courtesy House of Cupcakes

When House of Cupcakes won Cupcake Wars, the line of customers went out the door of their Princeton shop, and the bakery soon needed to expand. They opened two more New Jersey locations in East Brunswick and in Clifton, and in January 2018 they will be opening stores in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. They offer cupcake classes and parties where you can bake and decorate your own cupcakes. Every day they serve 65 different flavors, and owner Ruthie Bzdewka says that the Red Velvet is their most popular cupcake of them all. In addition to all those cupcakes, they also offer cookies and chocolate-covered pretzels. You can find their food truck traveling around New Jersey every weekend; check their Facebook page to find out where they will be.


The exterior of Sugar Mama's Bakery in Austin, Texas.
Rachel Kramer Bussel, Flickr // CC BY SA 2.0

Sugar Mama’s is owned by husband-and-wife team Olivia and Steve O’Neal. They have a long list of awards and accomplishments, including having made a birthday cake for rapper Kanye West. The owners use locally sourced and Fair Trade-certified ingredients to create a variety of delicious goodies—including 12 different flavors of cupcakes that change daily. If you’re a baklava fan, pick up Harlow’s Honey Baklava—a buttermilk honey cake with Round Rock honey filling and cinnamon buttercream frosting topped with a phyllo puff.


A delicious-looking chocolate cupcake topped with shaved chocolate from Frost Cupcake Factory
Courtesy Frost Cupcake Factory

Frost Cupcake Factory sells a handpicked selection from 42 standard flavors throughout the week in addition to seasonal varieties. The two most popular are Rose Velvet and Burnt Almond, and they also offer cake pops, cupcake push pops, and mason jar cupcakes, in addition to other baked goods. Frost customizes cupcakes for corporate clients too; if you head out to a San Jose Sharks game, you may find them in the concession stands.


A plate of cupcakes from Love Kupcakes.
Courtesy Love Kupcakes

Love Kupcakes is a bakery and food truck based in Portland that strives to use sustainable practices and all-natural ingredients. They serve traditional, vegan, and gluten-free varieties of cupcakes in an array of sweet flavors like Strawberry Basil, Funfetti, and Snickerdoodle, and introduce seasonal options too. Pick up their best-seller, the Chocolate Sea-Salted Caramel, the next time you're in Maine. Look for their cupcake truck around town and at local festivals (follow them on social media for locations) or rent it for your wedding or special event.


Cupcakes in mason jars from Wicked Good Cupcakes.
Courtesy Wicked Good Cupcakes

Tracey Noonan and Danielle Vilagie are a mother-daughter dream team that started Wicked Good Cupcakes after taking cake decorating classes together. After getting requests to ship their cupcakes from their Cohasset, Massachusetts shop, they came up with the idea of putting the treats in mason jars to prolong their freshness and durability. They were featured on Shark Tank and teamed up with Kevin O’Leary to take their business to the next level—today, they're a super-successful gourmet online retailer. They have a variety of flavors, including Maple Bacon Whiskey and Sea Salted Caramel, that can be ordered online or found in their Boston-area bakery.


A tray of Blooming Lotus cupcakes.
Courtesy of Blooming Lotus

If there is such thing as a healthy cupcake, Blooming Lotus makes it. This bakery is grain-, processed sugar-, dairy-, soy-, and egg-free, and the nut and seed flours they use are high in protein. (Basically, you can eat one of their cupcakes and pretend you’re eating a protein bar.) Blooming Lotus was started after the owner and her sister were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and they adopted restricted diets. Their baked goods have developed quite a following in stores around the Milwaukee area. They offer three flavors of cupcake: Chocolate Brownie with chocolate frosting; Carrot Cake with toffee frosting; and Spice Cake with toffee frosting.


A tray of cupcakes from JoZettie's Cupcakes.
Courtesy of JoZettie's Cupcakes

Everything made in JoZettie’s kitchen is made fresh and from scratch every day. The owner, Mrs. Ida, says she decided to open her shop when she walked by a vacant building with a “for rent” sign on it. Today, JoZettie’s has two locations in Montgomery, where customers can choose from a variety of unusual flavors, including Pineapple Upside-Down Cake and Caramel Pecan Cheesecake. The bakery's best-selling yummies are Sweet Potato, Key Lime, Red Velvet, and Red Velvet Cheesecake, all topped with cream cheese icing. Follow the bakery on social media to discover the featured flavor of the day.


A Jones Bros Sweet and Salty cupcake next to a box.
Zane Mulligan, Flickr // CC BY ND 2.0

Jones Bros. Cupcakes—a full bakery and ice cream shop—is a true family business: It's run by brothers Brad and Bill Jones, along with their parents, Jerry and Elizabeth. The shop offers a rotating variety of cupcake flavors as well as specials and seasonal tastes that pop up on the weekends. If you're visiting, try the best-selling Sweet and Salty, a chocolate cake filled with caramel and sea salt, then topped with chocolate buttercream and a caramel drizzle. Hit their drive-through window for extra-fast service.

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14 Fascinating Facts About Saturday Night Fever
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

We can tell by the way you use your walk that you're a fan of Saturday Night Fever, the 1977 blockbuster that made John Travolta a mega-star and brought disco into the mainstream. (Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of opinion.) To enhance your appreciation of what was the highest-grossing dance movie of all time until Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010) and Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike (2012) beat it, here's a groovy list of facts to celebrate the film's 40th birthday. Put on your boogie shoes and read! 


Saturday Night Fever was an instant hit when it was released in December 1977, quickly becoming one of the highest-grossing movies of the year. What's especially impressive is that it did this despite being rated R and thus (theoretically) inaccessible to teenagers, the very audience that a disco movie would (theoretically) appeal to. And so in March 1979, the film was re-released in a PG version, with all the profanity, sex, and violence either deleted or downplayed. This version took in another $8.9 million (about $30 million at 2016 ticket prices), bringing the film's U.S. total to $94.2 million. Both versions were released on VHS and laserdisc, though the R-rated cut didn't become widely available on home video until the DVD upgrade. 


"Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night," a detailed look at the new generation of urban teenagers by British journalist Nik Cohn, was published in New York Magazine in June 1976. The central figure in the article was Vincent, "the very best dancer in Bay Ridge," whose name was changed to Tony Manero for the movie. But years later, Cohn confessed: "[Vincent] is completely made-up, a total fabrication." The styles and attitudes Cohn had described were real, but not the main character. Cohn said he'd only recently arrived in Brooklyn, didn't know the scene well, and based Vincent on a Mod he'd known in London in the '60s.


Most of the film had already been shot when music producer-turned-movie producer Robert Stigwood commissioned the Bee Gees to write songs for it. The brothers, only modestly successful at that point and hard at work on their next album, didn't know what the movie was about but cranked out a few tunes in a weekend. They also repurposed several songs they'd been working on, including "Stayin' Alive," a demo version of which was prepared in time to be used in filming the opening "strut" sequence. (You'll notice Travolta struts in sync with the music.) So if the movie's signature songs didn't come until later, what were the cast members listening to when they shot the dance scenes? According to Travolta, it was Boz Scaggs and Stevie Wonder. 


With 15 million copies sold in the U.S. alone, Saturday Night Fever was the top-selling soundtrack album of all time before being supplanted by The Bodyguard some 15 years later. It's also the only disco record (so far) to win the Grammy for Album of the Year, and one of only three soundtracks (besides The Bodyguard and O Brother, Where Art Thou?) to win that category. It was the number one album on the Billboard charts for the entire first half of 1978, and stayed on the charts until March 1980, long after the supposed death of disco.


Disco had been popular enough in the mid-1970s to land multiple disco tunes on the Billboard charts, but by the end of 1977, when Saturday Night Fever came out, the backlash had started and the trend was on its way out. But thanks to the movie (and its soundtrack), not only did disco not die out, it achieved more widespread, mainstream, middle-America success than it ever had before.


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First connection: It was supposed to be directed by John G. Avildsen, whose previous film was Rocky. Ultimately, that didn’t work out and Avildsen was replaced with John Badham a few weeks before shooting began. Second connection: Tony has a Rocky poster on his bedroom wall. Third connection: Saturday Night Fever’s 1983 sequel, Staying Alive, was directed by ... Sylvester Stallone.


Saturday Night Fever made Travolta a movie star, but he was already a teen heartthrob because of the popular sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, where he played a delinquent teenager with the hilarious and timeless catchphrase "Up your nose with a rubber hose." Still, nobody was prepared for how Travolta's fame would affect the movie, which was to be shot on the streets of Brooklyn. As soon as the neighborhood found out Travolta was there, the sidewalks were swarmed by thousands of onlookers, many of them squealing teenage girls. (Badham said there were also a lot of teenage boys holding signs expressing their hatred for Travolta for being more desirable than themselves.)

Co-star Donna Pescow said, "The fans—oh, my God, they were all over him. It was scary to watch." Badham said, "By noon of the first day, we had to shut down and go home." Since it was nearly impossible to keep the crowds away (or quiet), Badham and the crew resorted to filming in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn. 


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In the brief scene where Tony, his boys, and Stephanie are loudly eating at White Castle, those were the real burger-flippers, not actors. Badham told them to just go about their business. He also told his actors to cut loose and surprise the White Castlers in whatever way they saw fit. The shot that's in the movie appears to be a reaction to Joey standing on the table and barking, but Badham said it was actually in response to something else: "Double J (actor Paul Pape) pulling his pants down and mooning the entire staff of the White Castle."


Casting the role of Tony's dance partner, Stephanie, proved difficult. Hundreds of women auditioned, but nobody seemed right. Meanwhile, 32-year-old Karen Lynn Gorney was looking for her big break into show business. As fate would have it, she shared a cab with a stranger who turned out to be producer Robert Stigwood's nephew. He mentioned that his uncle was working on a movie, and Gorney replied, "Oh, am I in it?"— her standard joke whenever she heard about a film being made. The nephew wound up submitting Gorney as a candidate, and the rest is history. 


John Travolta stars in Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Paramount Pictures

Travolta met Diana Hyland on the set of the TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, in which she played his mother. (She was 18 years older than him.) They had been dating for six months when Hyland succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 41, after filming just four episodes of her new gig on Eight Is Enough. Travolta was able to leave Saturday Night Fever and fly to L.A. in time to be with her before she died, then had to return to work. 


For Tony and Stephanie's rehearsal scene about 30 minutes into the movie, Badham had used the song "Lowdown" by Boz Scaggs, going so far as to shoot the scene, including the dialogue, with the song actually playing in the background. (That's usually a no-no, for exactly the reasons you're about to read about.) According to Badham, no sooner had they wrapped the scene than Scaggs' people reached out to say they couldn't use the song after all, as Scaggs was thinking of pursuing a disco project of his own. Badham now had to have the actors re-dub the dialogue (since the version he'd recorded was tainted by "Lowdown"); what's more, he had to find a new song that would fit the choreography and tempo of the dancing. Composer David Shire rose to the occasion, writing a piece of instrumental music that met the specifications, and that’s what we hear in the movie. 


In another rehearsal scene 55 minutes into the movie, Tony and Stephanie do the "tango hustle," which looks like a combination of both of those dances. This was something Travolta and Gorney invented as a matter of necessity: the film's choreographer didn't realize he was supposed to be on the set that day, and the actors didn't have any steps prepared. The tango hustle, alas, never quite caught on.  


Travolta and Badham both assumed Tony's disco outfit would be black, as men's suits tended to be at the time. Costume designer Patrizia Von Brandenstein convinced them it should be white, partly to symbolize the character's journey to enlightenment but also for practical reasons: a dark suit doesn't photograph very well in a dark discotheque. 


Von Brandenstein took Travolta to a cheap men's clothing store in Brooklyn (swamped by teenage fans, of course) and bought the suit off the rack—three identical suits, actually, so they wouldn't have to stop filming when one became soaked with Travolta's sweat. Two of the suits disappeared after the movie was finished; the remaining one, inscribed by Travolta, was bought at a charity auction in 1979 by film critic Gene Siskel, who cited Saturday Night Fever as one of his favorite movies. He paid about $2000 for it. In 1995, he sold it for $145,500 to an anonymous bidder through Christie's auction house.

In 2012, after a lengthy search, curators at London's Victoria and Albert Museum found the owner (who still preferred to remain anonymous) and persuaded him to lend it for an exhibit of Hollywood costumes. It is now presumably back in that man's care, whoever he may be. (P.S. Badham says on the 2002 DVD commentary that the suit is on display at the Smithsonian, a tidbit repeated by NPR in 2006 and Vanity Fair in 2007. But they must be mistaken. The suit’s sale in 1995 and rediscovery for the 2012 museum exhibit are verified facts; the suit isn't in the Smithsonian's online catalogue; and finally, a 2007 Washington Post story about the Smithsonian lists the suit as one of the items the museum director wanted to get.)

Additional sources:
John Badham DVD commentary
DVD featurettes


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