And yes, God bless this town, the screaming little girls and their smitten moms and dads got ahold of their unbridled adulation for the Fondant Phenom of Hoboken for a brief moment - maybe thought about a cannoli from Isgro's they once ate - and they booed.
"Who's booing?" a surprised Buddy Valastro said, looking up from the toppled cupcake, a tiny little vanilla thing whose fall from grace was writ large on the big screen above him.
Poor little cupcake.
But with his queen-size-bed-equipped tour bus and swag-filled trailer parked on Bach Place, a new book (Cake Boss: Stories and Recipes From Mia Famiglia) to promote, the TLC show now telecast in 93 countries, a 17-city tour to sold-out crowds, a new factory, anda fourth kid in the works, Valastro could certainly afford to lose a cupcake along the way.
"It's been nuts," he said, making himself at home backstage before the show, his feet propped up on a cardboard box filled with Cake Boss mugs he still has to autograph, his newly dry-cleaned baker's coat hanging in plastic.
"When I feel the crowd roar, that's an awesome feeling," he said. "In my world, you do a good job, people cheer for you. It's a good feeling. It's a cake show. How is it inspiring people?"
But it is, to the women undergoing chemo, or the soldier in Afghanistan, who write Valastro to express gratitude. People who don't even get to eat the cakes, typical families who finally found a show they can all watch together without cringing (unlike, say, 16 and Pregnant). "My stupid cake show made him forget he was in a friggin' war zone," Valastro said.
It's only partly because of Buddy's cakes - the shark one, the NASCAR one, the toilet-bowl cake that flushed, the Oprah one, the Bridezilla one that Bridezilla later apologized for destroying, the latest cross-promotional cake for MTV's Snooki to give to her mom in Poughkeepsie.
Valastro, chief cake artiste and owner of Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, N.J., is still feeding off that universal feeling people get at the moment their cake appears: It's the stuff of a million photographs in everybody's childhood, when all things not goodness and love melt away; candles burning, eyes closed, wishes made. Valastro even managed to turn a Snooki episode into a feel-good story.
Indeed, he has made his own deepest wish - that his dad's bake shop would become a household name - come true. He's a natural.
"I'm just engineered that way," he says. He's talking about his talent for envisioning a cake design in his head, for seeing cakes out of thin air, or in the design of old theaters, or in the trees outside his window, someday there will be a bump-out tour-bus cake no doubt, and the queen-size bed will be made out of Rice Krispie treats.
But he could also be talking about the way he has with people, the projection of a nice - if sometimes bickering and screaming and prank-playing - family, not so different from yours, united in purpose, love, hard work, and Sunday gravy. Can you fake that?
"If we were a different network, we'd be stabbing each other," he says.
Maybe TLC, the network of Sarah Palin's Alaska and 19 Kids and Counting, digs a sweet ending (Jon & Kate notwithstanding), but the Valastros seem authentic to the core, even if they don't make their own fondant.
Yup, the question comes from the rafters of the Merriam Theater, where nearly every child in the audience has lined up to ask a question.
"Do you make your own fondant?"
That would be that smooth and hard icing surface upon which all cake dreams may be sculpted, so much more practical than the buttercream of his ancestors.
"We buy our fondant from Satin Ice," Buddy concedes.
"Very few people can ice a buttercream cake as well as fondant," he said. Well, maybe his father, who died when Buddy was 17, leaving him the business when he was just a young schnook who had a lot to learn. And did.
Valastro has tried to keep Carlo's Bake Shop from turning into just a tourist destination, though lines stretch around the block. You can wait three hours to buy some of his famous Lobster Tails, the ones he couldn't get right until his father appeared to him in a dream.
"You can still order half a sheet cake and it's 100 bucks," Valastro says.
Or you could order a 10-inch devil's food cake with purple and zebra fondant, as Michelle Arnold of Wilmington did for her 16-year-old daughter Lauren DiCarlantonio, for just under $200. But then Lauren got to meet Buddy after sobbing (just to be there!) in front of his sister Mary, who brought her upstairs where she bawled her eyes out and hugged Buddy. Though he still won't return her tweets.
In any case, most people seemed pleased with their evening watching Buddy on stage talking and overseeing little cupcake-decorating competitions and flashing slides of his family.
For three hours, he told his stories: about how the Food Network turned him down for a show, about how his dad inspired him. And then, almost as an afterthought, he did a little basic wedding-cake decorating.
One audience member's take: "If I had to see one more person make a cupcake, I was going to shoot myself."
What, you expected him to read Shakespeare? Play Bach?
Kimmel Center spokeswoman Dafni Comerata said the sold-out Cake Boss appearance was indeed a promising new form of entertainment. Last year, the Merriam hosted Food Network star Guy Fieri, who came with his own ovens and Australian flair bartender. All the reality-show cooks and chefs like to take it on the road, some more elaborately than others.
The line snaked around the lobby into the theater and back out to Buddy, who released little hyperventilating girls with Buddy autographs out into the night. As the clock neared midnight, you could admire Valastro's determination to leave no one unsatisfied. Not surprising from the guy who brings the dessert.
Maybe you could even get a plot line from the evening, like when Gene Hand of Northeast Philadelphia forced his totally embarrassed fiancee Marie Kinzler down from the rafters to appear on stage with him, then won a Carlo's gift certificate by dancing with her for the first time ever.
Or from the group of schoolgirls from St. Francis in Springfield who brazenly risked the next day's "infractions" by skipping homework to go meet Buddy.
"It was," explained Lauren Bambach, 12, "on my bucket list."
Contact staff writer Amy S. Rosenberg at 215-854-2681 or firstname.lastname@example.org.