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While all sprinkles for cupcakes are tiny and sweet, within that basic description there are many different shapes and colors. The most well-known type of cupcake sprinkles are often referred to as "jimmies," and they are easily recognizable by their long, cylindrical shape with rounded ends. Jimmies are sold in a wide range of colors as well as rainbow mixes and chocolate versions. There are also the round, bead-like non-pareils, button-like types of brightly colored candies, various novelty flat shapes and edible pearls. Crystallized sugar sprinkles are structured and transparent-looking while edible glitters are more powdery and fine.
Novelty sprinkles include holiday themes as well as animals, hearts, stars, flowers and many more. Holiday cupcake sprinkles for Easter include ducks and rabbits, while holly leaves, candy canes and trees are popular shapes for Christmas baking. There are also green shamrock cake and cupcake sprinkles for Saint Patrick's Day as well as red or pink hearts for Valentine's Day. Novelty sprinkles for cupcakes are typically available in containers of separate, vivid solid colors as multi-colored packs. The novelty sprinkle types are often more difficult to find than circles, balls or jimmies, but cake decorating supply stores usually have a wide selection of these.
Edible pearls are popular for creating elegant cupcake looks such as for wedding cupcake towers or other designs. They're available in metallic silver and gold as well as a variety of whites and pastels colors. Glitters, or dusts, used for decorating cupcakes are edible powdery sprinkles that are often combined with other small candies. Brights, metallics and pastels are usually available in these edible, sugary powders. Crystallized sugar sprinkles for cupcakes are translucent, jewel-like and sold in vivid colors like red and green as well as many different pastel shades.
Button types of candy sprinkles made for cake and cupcake decorating are typically small, brightly colored and round. Non-pareils are extremely tiny, round sprinkles that are reminiscent of the little glass "seed beads" sold in craft stores. Non-pareils are completely edible though and can be sprinkled onto cupcakes or be used as a dip for the already frosted tops of them. Like most of the other types of sprinkles for cupcakes, non-pareils are available in a variety of color types. The jimmies kind of cupcake sprinkles are often the most easily found, as many larger grocery stores tend to have these in individual containers or sets of different colors.