What do steeped cigarettes, bacon and chili peppers have in common? Any hard-core cupcake competitor could probably tell you that they are all ingredients that led to the very first Iron Cupcake, a competition craze that began in Milwaukee, WI, in April 2008 and has spun off to cities including Chicago and Las Vegas and spread as far as the United Kingdom.

The challenge was founded by Milwaukee’s “Cupcake Queen,” Sandy Ploy, and Chef Jeff Reinke, whose love of cupcakes made with off-the-wall ingredients was only rivaled by each other. Out of that love, they challenged each other to create a cupcake made with Wasabi, marking the first Iron Cupcake event. And more than 20 challenges, hundreds of cupcakes and thousands of tasters later, the rest is history.

The next Iron Cupcake Milwaukee challenge is this Friday, May 28, and will showcase all-edible, candy-decorated cupcakes. Entries for bakers are s limited, but spectators can purchase tickets for $8 in advance or $10 at the door.

Iron Cupcake Chicago, one of the latest local challenges to spin off from the original, will celebrate its First Anniversary on June 7 with a challenge to create a cupcake made from breakfast cereal.

For information on the original Iron Cupcake challenge, visit “No One Puts Cupcake in the Corner” atwww.ironcupcakemilwaukee.com.

To find out about the Chicago challenge, visitwww.ironcupcakechicago.comorwww.beautifulcakeschicago.com.