‘Sex and the City’ Helped Magnolia Bakery Grow Into An International Sensation

Magnolia Bakery is celebrating its 25th birthday, and to kick off the festivities, they recently shared their banana pudding recipe. Banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery has become a staple for people in the know, but their cupcakes are what put them on the map. Correction, Sex and the City character, Carrie Bradshaw, eating their cupcakes is what put them on the map. So, how exactly did a single scene in a television series help a bakery become a multi-national business? 

What is Magnolia Bakery best known for? 

Magnolia Bakery, originally located on Bleeker Street in Manhattan, is often credited with starting the cupcake craze. The small, unassuming bakery became a cultural icon in the early 2000s, and its popularity remains today. While Magnolia may have kicked off the cupcake craze, they’ve managed to expand and build on their brand in recent years. 

A cupcake on display at the Magnolia Bakery F
Magnolia Bakery in Rockefeller Center | STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

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Eater once suggested that the bakeries cupcakes were no match for the business’ true piece of culinary perfection, their banana pudding. This appears to be true. It’s been said that only about 1/3 of the business’ profits come from cupcake sales. While the cupcake craze may be on the decline, their banana pudding sales are on the rise. However, the bakery still owes Sex and the City credit for helping put them on the map, even though their ability to wow customers with their baked goods is what has helped them grow exponentially over the years. 

Sex and the City took a small bakery and helped it grow into a multi-national machine 

In 1996, the doors to Magnolia Bakery opened. The small bakeshop wasn’t unlike other bakeries sprinkled across Manhattan. In Manhattan, Bakeries tend to service the neighborhood they are in and rarely develop a larger cult following, generally speaking. Magnolia’s is different because of Sex and the City

Kristin Davis and Sarah Jessica Parker act in a scene for 'Sex and the City'
Kristin Davis as Charlotte York and Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw | Tom Kingston/WireImage

In 2000, a scene for Sex and the City was filmed right outside of the bakery. The scene featured Carrie and Miranda Hobbes discussing Carrie’s latest romantic interest, Aidan Shaw, while hanging out on a bench eating cupcakes. The window of Magnolia’s was prominently displayed in the backdrop. Apparently, that one scene was all it took to get legions of fans to visit the bakeshop. The sudden popularity led to more culinary confections, massive expansion plans, and eventually the business’s sale. 

Today, Magnolia Bakery has outposts throughout Manhattan. Stores have also cropped up in Los Angeles, Chicago, and a handful of different countries. Currently, Magnolia Bakery operates locations in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates. 

Sex and the City wasn’t the only show that featured the bakeshop, though

Sex and the City may be the show that is credited with putting Magnolia Bakery on the radar, but it was far from the only series that featured the shop’s confections. The bakery’s cupcakes were featured in Spin City. The shop also appeared in The Devil Wears Prada and Prime and was mentioned in Broad City. It’s been name-dropped throughout Hollywood, but people still equate the bakery with Sex and the City

Magnolia Bakery in New York City
Magnolia Bakery | Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

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So, why, exactly, is the bakeshop so closely tied to Sex and the City? The answer isn’t a simple one. Sex and the City is one of those series that has an incredibly strong following decades after its last episode aired, and it continually picks up new viewers. The cupcake is also something that can easily connect fans with the characters they grew so close to during the show’s run. In 2018, AM NY sat down with Bobbie Lloyd, the company’s chief baking officer, to find out why fans are still crazy for the cupcakes today. Lloyd’s thought is simple; the Magnolia cupcake is a sweet, simple, and cheap way to live just a little bit like Carrie and her pals.