Jake Allen described the excited crowd packed into Clifton Park Center’s food court as a sugary freight train.
It was an accurate description. Sunday night, Rachel Cocca-Dott of Coccadotts Cake Shop in Clifton Park, Albany and Myrtle Beach, S.C., appeared for the second time in two years on the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” Set to run at 8 p.m., a huge screen was erected in the Clifton Park Mall to project the show to about 1,200 fans.
Allen, a morning show host on 104.9 The Cat, was brought in to entertain the masses for an hour before the show, along with a disc jockey. The result was a mob of Shenendehowa cheerleaders dancing, green pompoms in the air.
The real party catalyst however, was not the DJ or the dancing or waiting to see a local baker on TV. It was the cupcakes. Rachel herself ran up on stage with a microphone.
“Behind that curtain there are 3,000 cupcakes!” She said, pointing to a corner of the food court corralled by walls of black cloth, “and everybody gets one.”
She scanned the roaring crowd, estimating numbers.
“Everyone gets two cupcakes!” she said to an even louder cheer.
In the course of filming “Cupcake Wars,” Rachel said she and her team created 1,000 cupcakes in only one hour. Each week on the show, four nationally renowned cupcake makers competed in three elimination rounds for a grand prize of $10,000. When she last competed in 2011, she lost out in the first round. This time her employees from Clifton Park expected better.
“She knew what to expect going in,” said Makenna Smith.
While Rachel was off crafting 1,000 competition cakes, Smith had to make the 3,000 cupcakes for local fans.
“We had a schedule laid out over a month,” she said. “We made six trays of 72 every day.”
While engineers attempted to link video feeds from Albany, Myrtle Beach and the mall itself, people crammed in around the hidden cupcakes.
“Don’t let my kids dance into the cupcakes,” said Kristen Getter.
She and her two daughters were some of the closest to the black curtain. The DJ’s up-tempo beats, mixed with sugary allure, had the two young girls dancing like mad. The crowd waited, fidgeting as one, but Getter said it was worth it.
“You have to try the OMG,” she said. “It’s chocolate, Oreo and peanut butter.”
In fact, she said the OMG was so good, it would certainly carry Rachel to Food Network victory.
Finally as the show flicked onto the screen the black curtains dropped. The crowd rushed forward, gripped cupcakes raised high as the first few waded free.
In a clear section of food court Getter bit into a cupcake. It wasn’t the famed OMG, just a peanut butter cup, but still very good, she said.
Rachel didn’t win, the $10,000 slipping past Coccadotts for the second time. According to a spokeswoman, she made it to the final round with good feedback from the judges.