The only way I would find this acceptable if it was the end of the night and everyone has had their fair share and the presentation is not important anymore. Licorice dries up, so may as well eat them. He was rude to go and remove all the handles. This falls in line with punching holes in the chocolates or hogging all the frosting flowers let alone manhandling all the food.
I'd still find that rude. What if the op had planned to take the leftover cupcakes home for herself, or she'd promised someone else "you can have any remaining cupcakes" ?