Cupcakes trace their history to the 19th century, although there are competing explanations where the name for these sweet treats originated.

One school of thought is that they were named for the cup-like vessels these deserts were baked in. An 1828 cupcake recipe calls for the batter to be baked "in little tins."

Another possibility is that cupcakes gained their name from the American measuring system of cups. "Just as recipes for poundcake called for a pound of this and that, so recipes for 'cup'cake would involve a sequence of cup measures."


SOURCE: The Oxford Companion to Food