Photo: Peter Hvizdak / Hearst Connecticut Media
EAST HAVEN — It’s not as if you really needed yet another reason to do two of your favorite things: sign on to Facebook to see what your “friends” are up to and eat sweet, decadent little cupcakes from Sugar Bakery …
Yet here is a darned good one — Friday only — free cupcakes!
Facebook this week is introducing its latest feature, “Birthday Stories,” a new, slightly more elaborate way for folks to do one of the things that Facebook works best for: wish each other a happy birthday.
As part of that, Sugar Bakery, which has made quite a name for itself since the little bakery on Main Street burst into living rooms by winning the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” show in 2010, is one of 50 bakeries (one in each state) that Facebook signed on to get the celebration rolling.
On Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., a Facebook representative will be at Sugar Bakery, 424 Main St., to hand out free, blue-and-white-swirl, Facebook-themed vanilla cupcakes that Sugar whipped up especially for the occasion, said Brenda DePonte, co-owner with her mother, Carol Vollono.
Facebook already has pre-purchased 500 of the special cupcakes, which Sugar Bakery, now 14 years old, will give out — one to a customer — all day, DePonte said.
“To celebrate the launch of birthday stories, we’re taking over bakeries across the country to give away free treats for one special day,” Facebook said in a statement on a “splash page” introducing the promotion.
The statement has an asterisk that adds, “While supplies last, limit one per customer.”
The Facebook Birthday Stories feature piggybacks on its “stories” feature, providing an interface where users can create a card by adding a photo, a video or a written greeting for the birthday boy or birthday girl. The cards are visible for 24 hours and the recipient can control who can see them.
Sugar Bakery is listed alongside four-dozen other bakeries, including the Flour Shop in New York City, Copenhagen Bakery in Burlingame, Calif., Sweet Caribou in Anchorage, Alaska, Two Fat Cats Bakery in South Portland, Maine, and Cheeky Monkey Cake Co. in Biloxi, Miss.
For the serious cupcake fans in the audience, Sugar Bakery also will have 40 other delicious flavors on hand, as it does every day. Those will be available for purchase — only the special Facebook cupcakes are free, DePonte said.
DePonte said Facebook contacted them about a week ago to ask whether they would participate.
She wasn’t entirely sure how Sugar was selected, but said, “We’ve been using Facebook for many years to promote our businesss and it’s been wonderful for us.
“We have a pretty big Facebook following — we have almost 30,000” likes on the Sugar Facebook page, she said.
Sugar Bakery, which began years ago in Vollono’s house, has earned all sorts of other accolades in the years since it won “Cupcake Wars,” including being featured on The Cooking Channel’s “Cheap Eats” food travelogue series last year.
It also recently was honored with an award from the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, DePonte said.
Because Sugar Bakery, unlike some other bakeries with a national reputation, doesn’t ship its cupcakes, “It’s really important when we win local awards,” DePonte said.
“We feel very lucky because the people that we do have (liking the Sugar Bakery page) on Facebook really support us,” she said.
Vollono said Sugar Bakery has continued to expand its offerings each year, adding two Sugar Bakery cupcake trucks that sell on the streets of neighboring communities and at special events, as well as a party room for children’s birthday parties.