An Etiquette Question--Monet Cupcakes

A few months ago, we went to my Mother-in-law’s for dinner. For dessert, she had purchased these special “Monet cupcakes.” This bakery near her makes cupcakes and decorates them with Monet-style flowers. They were the most gorgeous cupcakes I had ever seen. Stunning. It was a very thoughtful treat for us, as we both love cupcakes and enjoy pretty things. Unfortunately, they didn’t taste very good. But we ate them, and oohed and aahed over them anyway, and since my MIL doesn’t eat sweets, no one was the wiser. And we didn’t think anything more about it.

A couple of days ago, she came out to visit. As a “very special treat,” she had made a trip to the bakery and gotten some more of these cupcakes. And this batch was even worse than the first. They tasted like two-week-stale supermarket cake topped with pads of lard. Really bad. (Even my husband, who has the sweet tooth of the century, didn’t touch the leftovers. They’re still in the fridge.)

As I said, my MIL doesn’t eat sweets, so she had no idea how bad they were. She regaled us with stories about how people come from miles around just to get these cupcakes. And she implied that the cupcakes were very pricey. So we oohed and aahed and choked down as much as we could and snuck the rest into the garbage can. Even Spot the Wonderpup didn’t want 'em.

I don’t want her to waste her money on a treat that isn’t a treat. I also don’t want her to know how very much we didn’t enjoy them the last two times because then she’d feel bad. She isn’t very good at picking up on hints.

How do we tell her not to buy them for us anymore?

Hmmm…tough one. Maybe next time you visit you bring something you DO like but is a bit of a treat as a gift for her and say “These are our latest addiction!” or something. It might stick in her mind that you specificly said you liked them and she might get those instead.

I think you and hubby should have told her about the 2nd batch being stale. As in, “Hmmm…you know, these taste a bit off-I think they may have sold you some bad ones!”

I know I wouldn’t hesitate to say so. If only to tell her that she got ripped off-that’s all.

Other than that, I wouldn’t say you didn’t LIKE the cupcakes, per se.

Tell her you appreciate the thought, but you’re really a more Van Gogh kind of girl.

I think Guin nailed it. Next time she brings the 'cakes, accept them with glee, “Oh, good, these wonderful cupcakes again!” Then, after eating one, say, “You know – I wonder if they changed the baker or the recipe or something. They still look as pretty as ever, but this batch just doesn’t taste right.” If she decides that the “one bad batch” was a fluke and buys them one more time, declare, “Oh, what a shame – they really must have changed the baker. And they were so good before!” That ought to do it. This way, she’ll still get credit for the first two treats and for the generosity of the gesture (which is the important part, after all) but she’ll stop wasting her money purely decorative cupcakes.


Something like this happened to my wife’s grandfather; he happened to mention that he had a rather nice piece of ginger cake in a little cafe while out walking, everybody seized upon this (it’s hard to think of original gift ideas for some people) and every Christmas or birthday, he would get inundated with ginger-laced produce. This had been going on for some years when I first met my wife and grandad took the opportunity to mention quietly to me, a relative stranger, that he really was not very fond of ginger at all; I tried to break the cycle by making him a couple of jars of marmalade conspicuously labelled ‘WITHOUT GINGER’; I also mentioned it(subtly) to a few of the family - it helped a little but he was pretty much stuck with the problem and only escaped it by dying.

Hmmmm, that isn’t much help is it? - I think Jess’ idea was a good one.

The next time she mentions it or shows up with a bunch, say, “You know, these really look pretty, but they taste like deep fried butt.” Then take a picture of them and put them on the fridge. That way, you have their redeeming quality, but don’t ever have to eat them again.

Tell her you much prefer chocolate chip cookies. Then you can get your Monet for nothing and your chips for free.

Finagle, that was HORRID.

Gah. Make me stop laughing.

Green Bean, perhaps you can save them for Arthur to teeth on.