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‘life is short…eat a cupcake’ Category

  1. It’s not the end…

    July 25, 2015 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    Truly, it is not the end, it is just the beginning of a wonderful blog about my cupcake experiences.

    I plan to continue with my plan to find the best cupcake in America, a cupcake that manages to supersede that of Georgetown Cupcake, the current winner in my book. At this point, I would like to reflect and rate my favorite ten cupcakery experiences over the years.

    Current Leaderboard- Top Ten

    1. Georgetown Cupcake- Washington, D.C.
    2. The Sweet Lush Cupcakery- Dunmore, Pennsylvania
    3. Vanilla Pastry Studio- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    4. Baked by Melissa- New York, New York
    5. Crumbs Bakeshop- New York, New York
    6. Smallcakes- Kansas City, Missouri
    7. SAS Cupcakes- Newark, Delaware
    8. SWEET Cupcakes- Cambridge, Massachusetts
    9. Carlos Bakery- Hoboken, New Jersey
    10. Cupcakes Gourmet- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Now that you know the most important information, I would love to make a game plan for what I will do next, through the coming years as a cupcake enthusiast. I am interested in making a bucket list of cupcakeries which I would love to visit. That way, I could document my cupcake excursions through the coming years, once my English 137H course ends this summer.

    Bucket List of Sweet Stops

    1. Sprinkles Cupcakes- New York, New York
    2. Mad Mac NYC- New York, New York
    3. Buttercup Bakeshop- New York, New York
    4. Robicelli’s- Brooklyn, New York
    5. Magnolia Bakery- New York, New York
    6. Butter Lane- New York, New York
    7. Billy’s Bakery- New York, New York
    8. Hello Cupcake- Washington, D.C.
    9. Red Velvet Cupcakery- Washington, D.C.
    10. The Icing on the Cake- Newton, Massachusetts
    11. Treat Cupcake Bar- Needham, Massachusetts
    12. Mama Cakes- Westfield, Mass.
    13. Lulu’s Sweet Shoppe- Boston, Mass.
    14. Brown Betty Dessert Boutique- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    15. Cake Life Bake Shop- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    16. Iced by Betsy- Royersford, Pennsylvania
    17. Sweet Elizabeth’s Cakes- Manyunk Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    18. Pamcakes Philly Cupcakery- Rittenhouse Square, Philly, PA
    19. Billy Burger and Bakery- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    20. Philly Cupcake- A Cupcakery Boutique- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    21. Whipped Bakeshop- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    22. Pink Cake Box- Dennville, New Jersey

    In the time between the Summer Bridge of the Pennsylvania State University Millennium Scholars Program and my actual freshman, Fall semester, my family will probably take two trips. I need some well-deserved rest and relaxation after this stressful summer.

    We plan to visit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Boston, Massachusetts. I will probably find a new cupcake place besides the norm of Georgetown Cupcake, in Boston, MA. There seems to be a plethora of wonderful options. In addition, I hope to go to Philadelphia, PA to visit my sister in her new home! There, I plan to try the cupcakes at Whipped which seems like an extremely popular spot! I would love to get to New York City as well and there are innumerable options to check off of my bucket list in the Big Apple.

    I am incredibly happy to have made the decision to blog about my passion for cupcakes. This experience makes me realize how this love has truly been a treat. I can’t wait to continue taking options off of my bucket list, moving into the future. Until then, don’t forget that life is short… eat a cupcake.

  2. It’s all coming back…

    July 21, 2015 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    Now that I am thinking deeply about my other cupcake experiences, I remember my trips to Cambridge, Massachusetts to the Harvard University Invitational for my high school speech and debate team. My primary coaches, Sarah and Joe, whom I previously mentioned about my Kansas City experience, went on the hunt for me while I was competing in rounds. They found the cupcakery that I was looking for on a short walk from our hotel. It was a lot closer than we thought.

    After long days competing in extemporaneous speaking, a cupcake was a great finish to my day. My first experience with SWEET on Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA was in ninth grade on President’s Day weekend of annual competition. It was between rounds of international economics and foreign policy. I was desperately in need of a “pick-me-up.” So, my best friend, Emmalie, and I walked to SWEET in the middle of the day on Friday of President’s Day weekend, four years ago, and it smelled wonderful. There was a large selection of cupcakes and I was pleased by the cute decorations and furniture. My friend has a severe dairy allergy, so she unfortunately just watched me eat their Red Velvet cupcake.

    Surprisingly, the actual cake was moist, yet darker in color than normal which is slightly unappealing. The icing was good, even though it was slightly thick. Overall, the cupcake was good but not amazing to be sold for over three dollars per cupcake. For the price you pay, you would expect more intricate decorations, sprinkles, garnishes or themed toppers on the cupcakes. They serve their cupcakes on a plate with a fork and, personally, I love that approach to eating cupcakes. I enjoy eating and savoring the sweetness in nice, small bites. With this approach to eating cupcakes, you can avoid getting that little bit of usual icing on your nose when biting into a cupcake, loaded with icing.

    With all of that being said, Sweet looks to be a safe and dependable resource when catering any special events. They sell both large and small size cupcakes. It can also be a great birthday treat to buy a full size cupcake for someone. All in all though, there isn’t too much to admire here.

    The appearance of the store is adorable, though. The store front is completely glass and offers a nice view of the hustle and bustle Brattle Street in Cambridge. In February 2015, my speech and debate team was trapped in Boston due to an extreme blizzard over President’s day weekend. It was a great place to get out of the bitter cold for some warmth and a bite of sweetness. Its a nice place for a quick break if you’re walking around Harvard Square.  Over my many trips to Harvard Square, I have tried quite a few of their cupcakes and red velvet is definitely their best. So, if you decide to make the trek up to Boston, I have two pieces of advice if you go to sweet.

    1) Buy the Red Velvet Cupcake.

    2) Don’t go when there is a blizzard that will shut down the city and its transportation.

  3. Cupcake Planning

    July 20, 2015 by Olivia Kathleen Richards


    Now, I feel as though I have hit a brick wall. My problem is that I can only remember so many cupcake excursions of the many that I have had with my family. I know that we visited one in Niagara Falls, Canada, as well as in Newark, New Jersey, but I can’t seem to remember what kind of cupcake flavor I bought or when I went there. Another issue is that my computer crashed at the start of my senior year of high school last year; therefore, I lost a cupcake diary which documented my cupcakes eaten. I am glad that I remembered a bunch of my favorite experiences.

    I am trying to recall my experience at Cupcakes Gourmet in the suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area, but I am having trouble. I somehow signed up to be on their email list and I continually get monthly emails. Since I don’t even remember visiting, I should probably unsubscribe but pictures of their “Cupcakes of the Month” always make my mouth water.

    Also, I had a fantastic experience at Vanilla Pastry Studio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their cupcakery was adorable. The staff was very nice and helpful. They offered a wide variety of cupcakes on cute white platters. Every cupcake flavor was labelled nicely on signs in front of them, with large enough print to see. Vanilla Pastry has been named the Best Cupcake in Pittsburgh, two years in a row. Their prices were extremely reasonable as one was only two dollars and twenty five cents. They sold one dozen for only twenty five dollars. The Red Velvet Cupcake was very good. The cake was moist and icing wasn’t too sweet. Their cupcakes had a nice touch of glittery sprinkles on the top. My brother enjoyed their Cookies-n-Creme cupcake. He is a true lover of Oreo cookies and he, even as a twelve year old cupcake connoisseur, knew it was delicious.

    In my next post, I would like to reflect and rate the cupcakeries in light of my experiences. Also, I would love to make a game plan for what I will do next. I am interested in making a bucket list of cupcakeries which I would love to visit. That way, I could document my cupcake excursions after my English 137H course ends, this summer. In the time between the Summer Bridge of the Pennsylvania State University Millennium Scholars Program and my actual freshman, Fall semester, my family will probably take two trips. We plan to visit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Boston, Massachusetts. Hopefully, I will find a new cupcake place besides the norm of Georgetown Cupcake, in Boston, MA. That would be ideal.

    Another idea that I have would be to shift this blog into one about all kinds of sweets and desserts that I stumble upon in my journeys as a college student and young adult. I love donuts and seem to always find fantastic donut shops as well. So, hopefully, I will think of a brilliant plan for my next blog. Until next time…

  4. You never know what you’ll find when you aren’t looking.

    July 15, 2015 by Olivia Kathleen Richards


    As I wrote in my first post titled “Lets start at home…” my younger brother’s competitive ice hockey career has taken our family around the country and into Canada. Needless to say, I have taken the Richards family off of the beaten path quite a few times! But, they still find a way to love me since nine times out of ten, these “trips off of the beaten path” result in cupcake success! Sometimes, the “best cupcakery” according to my research, doesn’t turn out to be too great. On these hockey trips between the ages of ten and sixteen, I would like to venture off, especially if the ice rinks were near towns, because you can only play so many arcade games and read so many books in twelve hours at an ice rink. The games are spread apart enough to give the players rest but not enough to actually do something interesting with the time, away from the rink.

    At one of Luke’s first ice hockey tournaments while playing with a team called the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Junior Penguins, I had one of those experiences. Luke was playing at a rink on the campus of the University of Delaware. It was a weekend long tournament and at the age of thirteen, I was desperate to find something ELSE to do. I begged my Mom to take me for lunch downtown, on the main street of their campus. So, we went to our normal lunch spot at home, Panera Bread. After we ate, my Mom and I wanted to walk around. As we walked around, we stumbled upon SAS Cupcakes at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware.

    We walked in and the cupcakery was cute and adorable! They had quite a variety of cupcakes with at least a dozen different flavors. All of the cupcakes looked quite appealing with their little, colorful candy straws sticking out of them.

    I tried their Red Velvet, no surprise there. My Mom tried the Vanilla/ Chocolate which is vanilla icing on chocolate cake. Our main gripe was that there simply seemed to be a bit too much icing. It was a little bit of a letdown because they just crossed that fine line of enough vs. too much in the sweetness department. Their cake seemed dense…if that makes any sense. The “density” came from a lack of moisture, maybe! I’m not sure what the cause was but their Red Velvet didn’t rank at the top of my list. They had a nice taste in cake and icing.

    The icing to cake ratio was off for the non-Red Velvet flavors. It looked like vanilla Mt. Everest in icing sat down upon a chocolate cupcake…maybe that’s where it lost the moisture!

    Anyways, it was a good find. I would recommend SAS Cupcakes because they were reasonably priced for the quality cupcake in which they were providing. If they had been over $3 a piece, I could have advised others to go somewhere else for dessert. Until next time…life is short, eat a cupcake!

  5. Don’t judge a cupcake by its size…

    July 11, 2015 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    photo       photo1

    A few summers ago, a friend of mine and I decided to take a day trip into New York City. It got off to a bumpy start and we ended up leaving a few hours later because we accidentally missed the 6:30 A.M. bus. Unfortunately, we had to wait until 10 A.M. to take the next bus. Since this experience preceded my days with a driver’s license, my friend didn’t have a car, we had to walk around the downtown of my city to pass the time. We were too embarrassed to call for a ride to come back and pick us up. So, needless to say, our days plans were pushed back but, lucky for us, we didn’t have any plans!

    Alanna and I arrived into the Big Apple around noon on a hot, July day and we were ecstatic to finally be there. We left Port Authority and walked to Times Square. Since the both of us are lovers of Broadway, we decided to stop at TKTS, a discount ticket booth, to buy inexpensive student tickets for a show. Once we bought tickets for that evening’s production of Chicago, we needed things to do.

    We eventually found ourselves venturing around the shopping district of Manhattan. Alanna and I stumbled upon Baked by Melissa. This cupcakery has four locations in New York City and I visited the Fashion District one. This façade looked adorable. Since there was a small line. I had to go inside to try.

    Baked by Melissa is unique in that the shop only sells mini cupcakes. They have a wide variety of flavors but there is no different in size. I would compare each cupcake to the size of a half dollar. From the experiences that I have had in my house, it looked as though you could eat one cupcake in a single bite. Each bite of goodness sat in a case full of tiny holes, only large enough to fit one cupcake. For the customer, it was incredibly aesthetically pleasing and increased my expectations for the cupcakes. Soon enough, I found my “bite-size” assumption to be true. While the cupcakes were tasty, they were a little too small for me! I felt as though there was something missing. Maybe it was that there didn’t seem to be enough icing on some of the cupcakes. But, their small size compensated for being tasty and not getting dry, quickly.

    I vividly remember enjoying the Chocolate Chip cupcake which was yellow cake with white cake and chocolate chips on top. Besides the strong cream cheese flavor, my usual of Red Velvet was still good as well.

    For someone who tries not to eat more than one regular sized cupcake for each of my visits, I liked having the opportunity to buy a whole dozen for my friend, Alanna, and I to share. After eating six cupcakes, I felt a lot less guilty due to their size. Also, they were relatively inexpensive at the time. I believe we bought a dozen for only $10.

    As you can tell, Baked by Melissa was a great place to accidentally visit.

  6. Crumbs Bakeshop…too many crumbs

    July 3, 2015 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    red velvet Crumbs crumbs bakeshop

    On the Palm Sunday of 2011, we were traveling to New York City for my third piano performance at Carnegie Hall. I was extremely excited, not only for the few times in a life time piano performance at Carnegie Hall and a trip to New York, but I was excited because travel means CUPCAKES! So, on our way there, I was attached to my cell phone to search for the best cupcakery in the Big Apple! In my usual pre-cupcakery research online, I found mixed reviews about the “favorite” of New York City. While Crumbs Bakeshop has grown from one shop to a large chain around the country in only twelve years, there were some happy and unhappy customers. I was definitely surprised. So, these reviews inspired me to take the trip from Carnegie Hall to Crumbs Bakeshop, off of Broadway, to see what they were all about.

    The entire family walked in. I looked around, talking to myself saying “Heaven. I’m in heaven.” The first thing to catch my eye was the extreme size of the cupcakes. They sell mini, signature-size, and jumbo cupcakes. I didn’t think it would ever be possible to make cupcakes bigger than Sprinkles Cupcakes!?! I guess the impossible is possible. After looking into the customer reviews and their own details about the cupcakes, I had already determined which flavors I wanted before we had even arrived at Crumbs Bakeshop. I planned to try the Apple Cobbler, along with my usual of the classic Red Velvet. I soon realized how the cupcakes were so large. It was because they were getting away with charging customers $3.75 per cupcake. That steep price did align with the size, when comparing it to other cupcakeries.

    The Apple Cobbler Cupcake was outstanding. It was an apple cinnamon cake with a filling of apple preserves, topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting and covered in streusel crumbs. That description alone manages to make your mouth water. It seemed as though the apples in the cupcake’s center were able to keep the cupcake moist, which was key.

    The Red Velvet cupcake was a bit of a letdown. The actual cupcake was red velvet cake with rich cream cheese frosting, topped with red velvet crumbs and edged with white sprinkles. Although the cream cheese frosting was delectable, the sprinkles and cake crumbs over top of the icing didn’t do the cupcake any favors. The actual cake was a bit dry and did not live up to my high standards for red velvet cake. We visited in the late afternoon/early evening, so the cupcakes were probably made during that morning and had been sitting for too long, through the day. I was upset since we bought quite a few red velvet cupcakes since everyone in my family loves to eat them, and at the steep price of $3.75, they weren’t worth it!

    Although my main cupcake challenge involves testing red velvet cupcakes to find the best cupcakery, the Apple Cobbler Cupcake will definitely take me back to another Crumbs Bakeshop to try another flavor, somewhere in the U.S.A.

  7. One extreme & another….quite close & quite far

    June 30, 2015 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    Popular-Cupcake-Brand-Opens-First-Illinois-Franchise        Sweet-Lush-Cupcake-Camper-600x400

    It is important to test out cupcakes at home because you never know what you might just find around the corner. During the week leading up to my AP Exams, my Mom decided to treat me by stopping at a bakery that she heard of and bringing a few cupcakes home. I tried local cupcakes from a small, new shop, near my home called The Sweet Lush Cupcakery. Their bakeshop is located in Dunmore, Pennsylvania and they also run a Sweet Lush Cupcakery Camper. The ‘food truck’ type cupcakery appears at local festivals and events. At our recent Cherry Blossom Festival, they were selling very well! They have been extremely successful. While the cupcakes are slightly overpriced for a local cupcakery in a small city at three dollars each, they were tasty and large. The icing was sweet and managed to not go over the top. I particularly enjoyed the Cannoli cupcake and Cookie Dough cupcake. Watch out for the insane amount of icing on the cupcake that is beautifully decorated! The cake could have been a bit more moist but there was a clear balance between the cake and icing which is even more important. My problem was the price of the cupcake. While it was good, it wasn’t fantastic. I don’t like paying more than three dollars per cupcake when they weren’t unbelievable.

    Since the beginning of seventh grade, I was an active member of my high school’s speech and debate team. In June of 2014, I was lucky enough to qualify to the National Tournament of the National Forensic League in United States Extemporaneous Speaking. Last year, the national tournament was held in Overland Park, Kansas, which is extremely close to Kansas City. The food in that area was unbelievable. That feeling left me with high expectations for the cupcakes that I was destined to find. I was excited that since I was traveling to a new place, I could find a new cupcakery in the Mid-West to try! I knew that Smallcakes was the favorite bake shop, in close proximity to our hotel. But, due to how busy my schedule was for competition, my coaches actually went to the bakery, picked out the cupcakes and purchased them. I didn’t even pick what I wanted, but I heard that there wasn’t a large selection. Since I didn’t visit, I can’t tell you about the feel of the cupcakery or its atmosphere. I am sorry! But, I can tell you the most important fact…I have definitely had better. Of the dozen that they brought back, I think my favorite cupcake of the few that I ate was called Caramel Crunch. It was chocolate cake with caramel frosting topped with sea salt and pretzels. I do love sea salt on everything. Also, the name doesn’t lie…they are definitely small cakes. Of course, I had to try their “Famous” Red Velvet which is the baker’s grandma’s red velvet cake with her signature cream cheese frosting. The frosting was very good but the cake wasn’t perfect. The appearance of the cupcakes was adorable with the Hot Fudge Sundae looking quite realistic! The food in Kansas City was worth the trip.

    Life is short…eat a cupcake!

  8. It’s all about the experience…

    June 28, 2015 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    IMG_5248 IMG_5247

    Since my first visit to Georgetown Cupcake in 2010, I have eaten a cupcake in every place that I travel to. I have almost always found a great place. Each time I travel, look for a bakery that isn’t too far from my destination that is the favorite online with reviews.  But, I feel as though a problem of mine while going to all of these fantastic cupcakeries was that I never wrote anything down. Most times, I have documented my experiences by taking photos of me at the location. I wish I kept a notebook and recorded what I thought of the cupcake’s details. I desperately wanted to have the experience but, at those points in time, I wasn’t looking into sharing all of my experiences and opinions with the world. But, since I am now, I apologize for now being as concise as I could have been when I was actually eating the cupcake. Over the past five years, I feel as though I have always compared the cupcakes that I have tried to that of Georgetown Cupcake, the masters of perfect cupcakes, in every way. It is possible that the comparison will always be in the back of my mind…oh well!

    So, I will share the places that I have been too. Honestly, I have never had a truly BAD cupcake in any bakery that I find.

    Last year, I visited Hoboken, NJ to catch up with family living there after a piano performance of mine in New York City. I decided that since we were only down the street, it would be a great idea to finally stop at the bakery of the one and only Buddy Valastro of the show, Cake Boss. His show came onto TLC in 2009 and has been a “lazy” Sunday favorite in my house. Carlos Bakery was actually packed. Their line was extremely long…so much that it stretched to a street corner and then started on the next street corner where you would receive a ticket number like a deli counter. So, that forced us to return when it was less busy, after we had dinner with my family. Upon our return after 8 o’clock, there wasn’t even a line outside of the bakery. Once we got in, it was extremely crowded and slightly unorganized. I waited for at least a half hour inside of the crowded bakery before an employee took my order. They also only took cash, which was inconvenient. I ordered cupcakes and cannoli’s, since they are well known for their cakes. But, to my surprise, the cupcake wasn’t very good at all. It tasted generic and I had high expectations. I feel as though they are simply a master at decorating beautiful cakes in huge styles but they probably don’t taste very good when it isn’t a rich client purchasing them. The cannoli’s, on the other hand, were absolutely excellent. I was glad that we made the extra trip…just for the cannoli. I was sad that Carlos Bakery was overrated.

    Next, I will talk about a cupcakery that is a bit closer to home!

  9. Let’s start at home…

    June 25, 2015 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    IMG_5859IMG_5854Georgetown Cupcake

    visit 2014 IMG_7166 IMG_7167



    The best way to begin my passion blog is to explain the root of this passion that I have acquired to find the greatest cupcake in America. It all began in the summer of 2010 as I sat with my mother in our living room, watching television. At that time, a new reality television show was released on TLC called “D.C. Cupcakes,” which shares the recipe to the sweet success of Sophie and Katherine Kallinis, sisters who risked their life savings and careers in fashion and finance to pursue their lifelong passion and dream of opening a bakery. With familial support and grandmother’s recipes, Sophie and Katherine opened Georgetown Cupcake in 2008 and became a success over night. The show highlights their booming cupcake empire from the decorating of thousands of cupcakes per day, to dealing with high class clients on special projects, to making cupcake tower masterpieces for weddings, fundraisers and festivals.

    As my Mom and I watched the pilot episode, I was enthralled by everything! I could literally take a bite of their cupcakes without leaving my couch. Georgetown Cupcake has an incredible selection of cupcake flavors and icing combinations. But, this cupcakery is most well known for their classic Red Velvet cupcake and signature swirl of icing.

    The half hour episode had me hooked. Once I took it all in, I set a goal for myself in a conversation with my mother. I decided that I couldn’t become obsessed with Georgetown Cupcake without tasting one of their Red Velvet or Salted Caramel cupcakes. So, I quickly told my Mom that by the end of 2010, I would get to Georgetown to make that happen.

    Luckily, my brother’s ice hockey tournament at the end of August took the family to Washington, D.C….giving me the opportunity to visit the home of D.C. Cupcakes! So, my mother, sister and I planned to visit Georgetown Cupcake between my brothers first and second ice hockey games of the tournament since there was a two and a half hour gap between them. Of course, we hit a ton of traffic on our way and arrived to see a line for cupcakes that stretched around the block. In order to make it on time for his second game, we had to turn around before we even got in line. I became very upset and talked my Mom into stopping at Georgetown Cupcake before we left to drive back to Pennsylvania.

    Once we finally arrived, we bought a dozen! I tried Salted Caramel and Red Velvet and fell in love. They had incredibly moist cake that was nowhere near dry and excellent icing that wasn’t too sweet, in their signature swirl.

    On that day, I decided to test a cupcake in every new city that I visit until I find a cupcake better than that of Georgetown Cupcake.

    Katherine, Sophie and their staff currently bake over 5,000 cupcakes each day and ship those batches of deliciousness all over the country. Their cupcakes have won numerous awards and contests and was voted “Best Bakery” in Washington, D.C. In my book, as a Cupcake Junkie, they should be voted “Best Cupcakery” in the United States. Since 2010, I have been to every Georgetown Cupcake location besides Atlanta (some more than once) in Georgetown, Boston (on its opening day), Bethesda, New York City and Los Angeles.

  10. Passionate Possibilities

    June 21, 2015 by Olivia Kathleen Richards

    I am extremely excited for the beginning of my blogging experience. When I think about my blogging possibilities, two ideas seem to come to mind. I am truly passionate about interesting things that include cupcakes and politics. Over the past five years of my travels, I have visited a new “cupcakery” whenever I visit a new place in my hunt for the best cupcake in the country. This journey has taken me from California to New York to Kansas. I have had my fair share of cupcakes and tasted both the bad and the good. I am interested in starting a blog to document and share my experiences at these bakeries. In another aspect, I have a passion for politics and foreign policy of the United States and other foreign nations. I am interested in the actions that the United States federal government takes in hot spots of the world such as the Middle East. Advocating for the rights of women and other underrepresented groups is a passion of mine. Blogging about either of them would be an enjoyable experience for me.

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