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What's a Wreck?

A Cake Wreck is any cake that is unintentionally sad, silly, creepy, inappropriate - you name it. A Wreck is not necessarily a poorly-made cake; it's simply one I find funny, for any of a number of reasons. Anyone who has ever smeared frosting on a baked good has made a Wreck at one time or another, so I'm not here to vilify decorators: Cake Wrecks is just about finding the funny in unexpected, sugar-filled places.

Now, don't you have a photo you want to send me? ;)

- Jen

Cupcake Cakes: Always Wrecktastic. Always.

I've recently been accused of hatin' on the cupcake cakes. Alright, you got me: I guess I can't hide the truth any longer, and it's time for me to come clean. [sigh] Ok, here goes:

Hi, my name is Jen, and I hate cupcake cakes.

Why? 'Cuz they're ugly.

Don't believe me? Keep reading.

For Shara's birthday her son asked the baker to make a "happy monkey cake" ala Curious George. Now, as a reminder for those of us who haven't watched Saturday morning cartoons in a while, here's what Curious George looks like:

And here's what Shara got for her birthday cake:

So apparently what the decorator heard was "Curious George after he's been flattened by a cement truck". That, or maybe he/she was going for an homage to Teen Wolf:

After he was flattened by a cement truck.

Yes, I understand that in concept these things are great: no clean-up, equal portions, blah blah blah, but in execution I've yet to see a nice one that wouldn't give you blue poo.

Wait - I have to take that back. If you happen to want a skinned Spiderman face, then you're going to love Alyson B.'s birthday cake:

All it's missing are little pegs holding down the edges of his mask. (Yeah, let's call it a mask; that's less disturbing than "face skin".)

Or how about this appetizing little number?

According to Mei L., this is supposed to say "Ojai! It's worth the drive!". Now, I would love to ask what the heck "Ojai" is, but I'm way too distracted by the poo souffle on the bottom. Honestly, this thing is in serious competition with the moldy camo cake in my "dry-heave-inducing" category.

What's that? You're still not convinced that cupcake-cakes are always wreckalicious? Oh, I get it: you're saying these designs have been too complicated, right? That a simpler design would look better?

Something, for example, like this?

Ah, you're right. This IS better. I mean, "round" is a concept obviously beyond the decorator's grasp, but at least she stuck with plain white frosting. Nik P. was the manager on duty at the bakery where this was ordered (and subsequently rejected). He writes, "As the manager on duty, I immediately took the appropriate action: I took a picture to post on the internet."

I like your thinking, Nik.

Have I convinced you yet? No? Ok, my last argument, at least for today's post:

Monique R. sent in this "creative" gem taken by Jen S. You can see that Pokey's head was obviously tacked on as an afterthought: it's not even on the cake board. Plus, the angle of his face makes it look like someone twisted his unnaturally long neck 180 degrees; last I checked, turtles don't walk around facing the sky. From the giant American flag he's resting on, I would assume this was taken around the 4th of July or Memorial Day, both holidays known for their inclusion of... turtles. Erm. Yeah.

Come to the Cupcake-Cake-Hating-Side. We have real cakes.

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Reader Comments (258)

OK. Cupcake cakes are ugly, but I'd still eat them (except for the Ojai cake; that frosting really does look like poo).

Am I the only one who thinks it would be kinda fun to have blue poo, by the way? I am? OK.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda

I saw a really cute cupcake cake at the bakery back in early August while picking up a (regular) cake for my daughter's birthday. All the cupcakes were decorated individually, however, instead of having the icing spread across them like a regular cake. It was a teddy bear, so the icing was chocolate, and the eyes and nose and whatnot were made on top of individual cupcakes. It would be very easy to pull those apart for little kids without icing going everywhere, and it was actually pretty cute. My MIL and I thought about getting it, then went with a regular cake instead.

I agree that these are horrific, but that's not to say that *all* are.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRamblingDreamer

I thought the monkey cupcake-cake was a Wookiee at first.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjanet

Lol I live just outside of Ojai! It is a little town in So. Cal. about 15-20 miles from the ocean, but 2.5 hr. drive from LA. Ojai is such a wonky (read: insanely Liberal and tree-hugging), crazy town... I wonder of that cake was made there; it totally looks like someone in Ojai would make it!! Seriously! Ojai is totally not worth the drive... stay as far away as possible!
--Jacqui Mitchell

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermannus

I spent a week in Ojai one day. Given the choice of a replay, or a piece of that cake, I'd have to take the cake.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentervikkitikkitavi

That's my birthday cake that looks like the whacked out monkey. Scary, eh? I was happy that it wasn't intended for a kid, or it would have sacred the bajezus out of them.

We like cupcake cakes because of the icing to cake ratio - like ronnica said, it's like every piece is a corner piece. But, after this fiasco we might go back to regular cakes.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShara

Here are some cupcake cakes that actually work pretty well:

I think the important thing to remember is not to purchase them at Wal-Mart.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

My cousin did a pseudo cupcake cake for her wedding (it was in a national park, on the side of a mountain...beautiful, but casual). The cupcakes were individually decorated, and the baker placed them on a tiered stand with some flowers. It was very pretty, and she got the look of a tiered wedding cake without the fuss. But I've never seen anything like what you've posted on here!

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

Okay, I personally think that the monkey montrousity looks like a Chewbacca mask gone horribly wrong. Maybe the decorator had never seen Curious George and was a big Star Wars fan... Or maybe Planet of the Apes?

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Five Nomads

Anonymous: Thank you!
One more person mentions where the heck Ojai is I am going to Screem!
Poo cake, blue poo, LOL! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...........

Via la individual cupcakes!
(Man, I'm hungrey! Funny consider what I've seen today. Hmmmm?)


September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterclueuin

The happy monkey cake was too too funny! Even more so when compared to what Curious George really looks like! Thanks for giving me the giggles today! =)

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertopaz

My daughters turtle just died... Thanks for adding insult to injury.
Woman, you crack me up!

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEmBee

"Poo souffle" just made me gag a little.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

Ojai apparently is worth the drive. this was featured today:

that picture looks way better

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergayle

My 2 year old saw the picture of Curious George and said "A monkey" then I scrolled to the cake of the supposed Curious George and asked him what is that and he says "A Flower".

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterauti

Cupcakes are a good thing. I'd eat a whole box of them while watching a movie if I didn't lack a cast-iron stomach and I wasn't trying to keep my weight down for racing. Cupcake cakes, on the other hand, I'm not really crazy about. If they were done in the manner liz's post mentioned, no complaints. It's when people try to make them look like ONE big cake that disaster strikes!

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCalantha

I am a cupcake lover (please dont shoot me!)! I must admit though that these cupcake cakes are...AWFUL!

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWendee

I'm saddened that you've come across so many crappy cupcake cakes. I'm a cake decorator and generally enjoy cakes of that sort, and feel it necessary to now send you pictures of our cup-cakes, just so you can see that not all store-bought cup-cakes suck.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteryourradiogeek

That poor Ojai cake looks like it was finished off in a pizza oven!

It probably started out no worse (well, "worse" being relative) than the "Farewel 6 Grade" cake, but then it looks like someone was transporting it some distance without realizing the sun was shining right in that car window. That must've been a very, very bad moment to open the box and... what a melted mess!

The cake with the pyramid of cupcakes on top was actually really cute. Now that kind of cupcake cake I could go with!

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersunlizzard

Unless you saw the pics, it would just be too hard to believe! I too don't like the cupcake cakes, it is NOT a work of art like a cake can be....


September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I disagree with tossing out a whole medium.
Some of these are a pretty clever use of the cupcake cake idea:

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersunny

I worked at a bakery--cupcakery, actually--and we made AMAZING cupcakes. They tasted great and looked amazing. They would die if anyone tried to make anything like those monstrosities. Each cupcake was a work of art--none of this "cupcakes as a cake" nonsense.

Each box was scrutinized for perfection--line off? Not centered? Scrape it off and do it again.

Spiderman? No problem--each cupcake (12, 24, 48, etc.) would have a hand drawn spiderman that looked just like him flying along--all of them identical.

It annoys me to see such shoddy work being passed off to customers.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterChris

You are so right about cupcake cakes. We thought we could get away with it, but ended up with heinous blood-red and eggplant colored upside-down balloons. We almost sent you a picture. The icing was about 3 feet thick and composed mainly of lard, which made it a great choice for a first birthday, as the baby is now completely waterproof. Never again we will be seduced by pull-apart cake!

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHagan Wagon

I have never seen cupcake cakes in England. Sadly, wherever America leads, yea must the UK surely follow.
Cupcakes - yes.
Cupcake cakes - o please no.
It's coming, I can feel it. And we will be a sorrier nation for it.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLillythePink

Ojai is a hippy resort town (yup an oxymoron) in central California, the cup cake cake was probably made with micro biotic icing which is as appealing as it looks!

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

Thank you SO MUCH Jen for taking a brave stance on cupcake cakes. They are never, never never, OK.

What I missed is when it even became acceptable to jam cupcakes together, smear them with a giant plop of icing, and call it a day.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

See, this is what I've always seen as cupcake cakes -

All individual but together making up a whole pic. I don't think it's fair to say that the posted examples are the only kind of cupcake cake. That's like saying all the other wrecks represent all cakes. These are just examples of cupcakes wrecks, but not all cc cakes are wrecks.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterholly

Wow, Ojai doesn't look ANYTHING like that! It IS worth the drive, unless there are rainstorms, mudslides, or wildfires! [shudder]

Maybe you're supposed to put the candles around the Spidey skin to mimic the pins holding it to the specimen board....

Wow, I like cuppy cakes as much as anyone, but... wow.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrandy

That Spidey cake is really unsettling, and I think I know why. It reminds me of the videos from seventh grade health class that showed how AIDS screws up your immune system, in which HIV would always be a creepy, lumpy red ball with evil eyes (or worse, an actual guy in such a costume), corrupting all the cute little white T-cells. I HAD NIGHTMARES FOR MONTHS. I SWEAR I'M GONNA GO HAVE ANOTHER ONE TONIGHT.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterfunnycide

I must agree with the poster that state that not all cupcake cakes are "wreck-tastic" I'm sorry that there are some out there that ruin it for the rest of them. I have made a beautiful grooms cupcake cake with layers! All chocolate...Oh, now I wish I took pictures of the cakes/cupcake cakes I made.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterwifeogeek

For me, regardless of horrible design, the ratio of cake to icing on a cupcake cake makes a "piece" inedible unless you scrape half of it off.

By then, it's already too much work.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I work at a SuperTarget bakery and I HATE making cupcake cakes. Though I have to say I've made a baseball (and soccer ball, etc...) one before and it turned out perfectly fine. Some people just shouldn't be cake decorators.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

I think some people might be misunderstanding what a cup-cake cake is.

A cupcake cake is not individually decorated cupcakes artfully arranged on a platter, possibly in tiers to resemble a wedding cake.

A cupcake cake is cupcakes placed next to each other then iced and decorated as if they were a sheet cake. But, because the cupcakes are not flat like a sheet cake, the decorator has to dump an excessive load of icing on the poor little cakes to create a smooth surface.

The result is a thick, misshapen sludge of icing precariouly sitting atop a group of cupcakes.

And, as a few of the pp mentioned - they are horrible to serve in a kindergarten class - icing ends up all over everything. Parents, please do us teachers a hug favor and just say no! To cupcake cakes!!!

Let's start a revloution - Praise the return of the individually decoratated cupcakes

"The baby is now completely waterproof." Bwahahahaha!!!! I needed that. Thanks.

The scariest thing about the flickr link was the discovery that there's a flickr GROUP for cupcake cakes. Though actually most of them are not wrecks and some are very well done, they all would still have been better as normal cakes, IMHO. Except this one:
which I thought was awesomely cool, but... it's not really a cupcake cake, is it? It's a clever and beautiful arrangement of individually frosted cupcakes.

Oh, and torgo jr... I'm afraid that what came to mind for lolcats was something poo-fle related. Like:
Ojai, were u gonna eat dis? Sry, thought wuz nu litr box.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKansas girl

What awful cakes! LOL! I sent a VERY cute turkey cupcake and cookie cake to my son's kindergarten class...and believe me, except for the head, it had alot less icing on it than those store bought things with the icing just absolutely TOWERING over the top, as thick as the cupcake itself!!! I'm a decorator myself...but I do try to make sure my cakes (and even the occasional cupcake cake) go out of my kitchen looking quite presentable. LOL.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuzy

That does it. I'm a new fan, but already I want to be you.

Alixandra Hice

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAlix

You know, I didn't like cupcake 'cakes' before, but... wow. You have convinced me even more. lol.
Your site is amazing!

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSerena

I'd laugh if they didn't frighten me so...

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFluffy Cow

Ojai cake = totally wreck-tastic. Ewwwww to poo icing.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSari

Did you know that "wrecktastic" is now a verb? I own a cake design company, and recently have been considering the wisdom of offering cupcake cakes (something not currently available in Australia.)

So as I was thinking about it, I found myself thinking, "Naahhh....too much opportunity to create things which will be wrecktastic!"

HA! Thanks for the daily giggle (and useful tool for showing my chefs what NOT to do!)

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteremzeegee & the hungry thre

As a cake maker/decorator I too hate cupcake cakes! I've never made one quite as awful as your pictures but they never turn out what you'd call pretty and they are a huge pain in the butt to make and package. Serving them is also icky as they look much worse once you start passing them out and there's always way too much frosting.

I hope my stuff never shows up on your site. I get people that want me to write "Under Neat That Write" on their cakes and I tell them I'd better not see it on your blog or no more cake for them. :)

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercyllan

My son said about the monkey cake - "it looks like someone put eyes, and a nose and lips on some poo."

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

...cupcake cakes...?

I've never even heard of one. What are they? Why do they exist? Why not make individual cupcakes or one normal cake?

I am baffled.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCanaduck

Ummm... Cupcakes - it's just portion control really isn't it? and since when has that been a good idea where cake is concerned?!

The Van Gogh (posted by Judge) looks ok, but would be so much more impressive on a plain old sheet cake, easier to make and more appropriate for the adults it is surely intended for?

Cupcake cakes are just ugly...

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

wow, that monkey cake looks much like the mask of agamemnon.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterohchicken

Thanks so much for the laughs! That curious george cake was one of the funniest things I have seen in awhile!

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Just...don't try to make anything out of the cupcakes.

Or be prepared to offer up eating the results for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSister Mary Martha

Love this blog and believe MOST cupcake-cakes are horrifying, and yet... I like this one:

Yeah, the skull is cheerful, but it IS a party, right?

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa M

I think Curious George got a little too curious for his own good ... Damn that's scary looking!

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSweetLollipopShop

I laughed almost as hard at some of the comments as I did at that godawful "happy monkey" cake, and subsequent Teen Wolf reference. Oh, man! I needed that!

September 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

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