MELISSA BLOCK, host:
Across the country, a craze for cupcakes is merging with the social media phenomenon, and the result is cupcake trucks. Most major cities have such vendors, and they rely on Facebook and Twitter to connect with their customers.
NPR's Jeff Brady, lucky guy, hitched a ride on the Denver Cupcake Truck.
JEFF BRADY: Each morning, Sean Moore, aka the cupcake guy, loads up his 1969 Ford delivery truck with sugary cakes.
(Soundbite of truck starting)
BRADY: Moore bounces over Denver's streets. Plenty of people stare, and some wave as we pass by. Then, our destination.
Mr. SEAN MOORE (The Denver Cupcake Truck): Well, we're in Highlands neighborhood in Denver and right now, I'm scoping out a spot to park.
BRADY: Moore finds the perfect space: plenty of businesses nearby, and lots of people walking. He sets his cupcakes on the counter, and he's open for business.
Mr. MOORE: Then I pull out my computer and basically link up with all my social networks, and let them know where I'm at and how long I'll be here.
BRADY: Within just a few minutes, customers are responding online and in no time at all, Patty McKenna(ph) shows up with one very insistent young man.
Mr. MOORE: Do you follow us online?
EVERETT: Cupcakes. Cupcakes. Cupcakes.
Ms. PATTY McKENNA: I know. Cupcakes, buddy.
BRADY: That's her toddler son, Everett.
Ms. McKENNA: He's only a little excited.
Mr. MOORE: No, he doesn't sound excited at all.
(Soundbite of laughter)
BRADY: A few minutes later, a slightly more sedate John Skrabec(ph) pops in for a Denver snowball and a pistachio cupcake.
Mr. JOHN SKRABEC: I work around the corner, and I'm always on Facebook because I use social media for my business, real estate.
BRADY: So if you hadn't logged on to Facebook this morning, and hadn't seen the message that this truck was right around the corner, would you be eating a cupcake now?
Mr. SKRABEC: Probably not.
(Soundbite of laughter)
BRADY: And there you have it: evidence that social media can successfully be used to sell cupcakes.
Moore sells dozens each day, at $2.75 each. The goal is for the truck to bring in $1,000 a day. That'll augment sales at the bakery Moore and his wife own.
The great thing about social media, he says: It's cheaper than traditional advertising.
Mr. MOORE: There are downsides to it, and that's the time. We spend hours updating our blog, updating Facebook, updating everything.
BRADY: But the benefits are worth it, says Moore's wife, Denon. Back at the bakery, she says social media is also good for market research. Customers suggest popular places to park the truck, and she says they always have new flavor ideas.
Ms. DENON MOORE: Well, everyone wants bacon.
BRADY: Yup, bacon cupcakes. Moore says she was skeptical, too.
Ms. MOORE: But, you know, Elvis loved bacon, banana and peanut butter. We're probably going to try and do something with bacon, banana and peanut butter.
BRADY: Soon, says Moore. Meanwhile, she made some maple bacon cupcakes, and they were a big hit.
Jeff Brady, NPR News, Denver.
EVERETT: I want some more cupcakes.
Ms. McKENNA: OK.
(Soundbite of music)
BLOCK: And there's a recipe for maple-bacon cupcakes at our website: npr.org