Crumbs cupcakes, founded by a Jewish couple, makes a comeback


(New York Jewish Week) — Picture the Upper West Side, circa 2003, the year that Jewish couple Mia and Jason Bauer opened Crumbs Bake Shop at Amsterdam Avenue and 75th Street. In the wake of a cupcake craze kicked off by a “Sex and the City” scene filmed at Magnolia Bakery, fans lined up for Crumbs’ oversized cupcakes, available in inventive varieties like Black-Bottom Cheesecake Brownie, Grasshopper and Squiggle, a gargantuan riff on the traditional Hostess cupcake.

The wildly popular Manhattan bakery quickly grew into a chain — by 2013, Crumbs had more than 70  stores across the country.

Soon, however, the dream crumbled. The Bauers sold the chain in 2011, but by 2014, due to a variety of factors — including increased competition, high real estate costs and general gourmet-cupcake burnout — Crumbs closed its doors. Later that year, an investment group tried to resurrect the troubled brand — reopening some stores and adding challah to the menu on Fridays — but failed.

Now, however, Crumbs is back, with the Bauers again at the helm but with a new business plan: In place of brick-and-mortar bake shops, they are selling desserts online at They are also offering delivery in New York City through Gopuff, and their baked goods are available at select local supermarket chains, including Gristedes, D’Agostino’s and ShopRite.

“There were things we always wanted to accomplish with the brand that we didn’t have a chance the first time around,” Mia Bauer told the New York Jewish Week. “We didn’t feel like Crumbs kind of petered out the way it deserved to. That wasn’t the ending we foresaw for Crumbs. We really had nurtured it and cultivated it and we felt like it deserved better than that.”

After the original Crumbs folded, Mia spent time raising the couple’s two children in their Short Hills, New Jersey home. She returned to political campaign work, which she was doing prior to becoming a full-time baker. Jason, meanwhile, opened a brokerage business and a spirits company in New York, and also took a corporate position at WeWork.

After a few years, however, the Bauers were ready for a change, and market research confirmed the interest that former Crumbs customers were expressing to Jason.

In 2021, Jason paid just $350 to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to revive the brand. Since then, the couple have been analyzing market research, altering their business model, attending trade shows, creating new recipes and designing new packaging. They formally relaunched the business in November 2023 and it is now known as Original Crumbs Bakeshop.

Now, as before, Crumbs products are kosher: Their cupcakes are under National Kosher supervision by Rabbi Aaron Mehlman, and a new product, soft-baked cookies, are OU-Dairy certified. The Bauers keep a kosher home, and as Jason told the New York Jewish Week, “We wouldn’t sell any food as a profession if it weren’t kosher.”

“The highlight of our week is Shabbat, but Jewish principles are woven throughout our daily existence,” said Jason, who, together with his family, belongs to the Kabbalah Centre in Manhattan, as the family splits its time between New Jersey and the Upper East Side.

Kabbalah, Jason added, “informs our every decision both in our personal and business lives.”

When Crumbs first opened 20 years ago, the bakery became known for their “signature” 4.25-inch diameter cupcakes, described now on their website as “twice the size of a normal cupcake.” At the time, such oversized treats were an anomaly.

“I actually didn’t realize they were oversized,” said Mia, who said she began baking as a child of 7 or 8. “That’s how I always made my cupcakes for family and friends. I assume it started out kind of innocently. I had a muffin pan in my home as a kid and that’s what I used. It didn’t occur to me that my cupcakes were that much bigger than the average cupcake.”

When the Bauers launched Crumbs their goal was to bring back the corner bakery, which, in the early 2000s, had started to disappear; the couple realized that supermarkets were basically the only option for baked goods for many people. At the same time, Mia, who had worked in a bakery as a teenager, had been “longing for the experience of a neighborhood bakery,” according to Jason.

While the new iteration of Crumbs isn’t focused on local bakeries, nostalgia still drives its founders: “We wanted to pivot and be the box of cupcakes or package of cookies that people have in their home,” Mia said, recalling fond memories of Entenmann’s cookies.

During Crumbs’ initial run, Mia — who lived in Israel from ages 1 to 7 and admits to a preference for plain white cake with lots of frosting — ended up creating more than 120 cupcake flavors, with about 30 varieties available in each shop at any given time.

These days, the cupcake varieties have been reduced to 12, plus seasonal and holiday flavors. Crumbs still offers their cupcakes in their signature size, as well classic ( aka “normal”) and mini sizes. The classic-size cupcakes are sold in supermarkets, and will now cost a little more than $2, considerably cheaper than the $4.50 bakeries used to charge.

“We’re able to produce them in volume with efficiencies that allows the price point in supermarkets to be significantly less than it was in our stores,” Jason said.

Crumbs 2.0 has added a line of soft batch cookies in eight flavors, most of which are takeoffs of their most popular cupcake flavors, like Cotton Candy, Sprinkle Sundae and Marshmallow Cookies & Cream. The small, soft-baked cookies — much like the Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies that Mia was so fond of — are packaged in resealable, stackable, plastic cookie jars and cost $8.

“We are pretty fanatical about quality control,” Mia said. “I treated our stores like my kitchen. Even now, in supermarkets, it’s the same quality control.”

According to Jason, every cupcake is still made and decorated by hand, and the cookies are homemade, too. These days, Crumbs has become something of a family business, with the couple’s children —  Annabelle, 15 and Zack, 13 — serving as taste-testers, critics and digital media consultants. “We run by both our kids almost anything social media-related to get their input,” Mia said.

Jason sees their return to the bakery business as bashert, using the Yiddish word for destiny. “We’re both very spiritual people,” he said. “We’ve always felt when the opportunity presented itself to us, there’s a reason it came back into our life, so we couldn’t ignore it.”