TAMPA — For more than six months, the new sweet shop in Hyde Park Village was missing a key ingredient: Its signature cupcake ATM.
Instead, the Sprinkles storefront in South Tampa's outdoor shopping center had a few empty window panes backed by a pink sign, saying the machine — one of 13 around the country — would arrive soon.
This month, it finally did. In the first week after installation, the bakery chain, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., said it has proven even more popular than anticipated.
"It was one of our best-performing cupcake ATMs," said Nicole Schwartz, the company's vice president of marketing. "It was in the top tier of sales."
Schwartz said that while Sprinkles had intended to install the machine when the store first opened, the company chose to hold off until construction at the shopping center was complete for the season.
"We didn't want everyone dodging construction cranes and uneven sidewalks," she said.
When the store first opened, Schwartz had a different explanation for the delay: The ATM was being held up by a shipping issue and would arrive within a few weeks.
Spokeswoman for the village, Gabby Soriano, questioned the construction explanation, noting that the sidewalk and store facade at 717 S Dakota Ave. were finished by the time Sprinkles opened in April. In addition, Soriano said, the crane was only used to paint a Sprinkles mural on the side of the building.
Rumor spread that the real reason for the delay was the need to tweak the ATM machine to accommodate Florida's high heat and humidity.
Schwartz rejected that story.
"The machine itself is in the temperature-controlled store," she said. "We haven't had any issues."
Sprinkles first unveiled its cupcake ATM concept in 2012, a time when the popularity of the desserts were growing with shows like the Food Network's Cupcake Wars. New bakeries popped up all over the place.
"Coming out of the recession it was a popular item because it was affordable and indulgent," said Darren Tristano, president of Technomic, a food research firm in Chicago. "Now people are doing juice cleanses and spending on more healthy choices."
Schwartz said that to stay relevant, Sprinkles has expanded into other concepts like cupcake ice cream sandwiches and sundaes.
"In the vein of continuously innovating, we launched a line of ice cream. We think we may even expend to other dessert lines, but cupcakes are at our root," she said.
Other cupcake ATMs are in Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, New York City, Las Vegas and Scottsdale, Ariz.
The machines are stocked every day to ensure a fresh product is always available. The cupcakes cost $4.55 from the machine and $3.75 in-store.
Contact Alli Knothe at email@example.com. Follow @KnotheA.