My Other Blog

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

President's Day Cupcake Mosaic

For those of you who missed out, about 1,800 of us had fun watching Zilly Rosen and her team assemble a 5,900 cupcake mosaic of Presidents Obama and Lincoln at the Smithsonian in DC today (they had a live webcam set up). It was even cooler than it sounds, believe it or not.

(You may remember I featured Zilly's work last November; check out that post here.)

Below are some progress shots taken from the live webcam. They shut off the camera just as I was about to get the final shot, but fortunately Kasey D. was on the scene, and sent me a picture of the finished product. Thanks, Kasey!

Thanks also to Sara K. for the streaming link!

My fav Zilly quote: "Obama's on the left. Appropriate."

Progress shots: 2:50 EST:

3:18 EST:

3:44 EST:4:10 EST:
4:38 EST:


Note: I consider Zilly's creations more cupcake "mosaics" than the dreaded cupcake-cake abominations I usually heap disdain upon, so I'm not classifying this as a Wreck: more just an interesting bit of cake news.

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Reader Comments (102)

you can come to the smithsonian american art museum to sample the cupcakes starting at 5 p.m. tomorrow!

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

What's the point in wearing gloves when she's playing with her butt crack and coughing directly on the cupcakes...

What's even worse is that she knows that this is being and broadcast.


February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

"Can I have a pretty cupcake? I don't want the sad Charlie Brown cupcake."

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKat

I didn't get to see this happening live, but it doesn't matter. It's such a wonderful feat, even viewed after-the-act.
Beautiful. Moving. Appropriate. Real.
My Dad (who died in 2004) always said that his favorite president was Mr. Lincoln, and I know he'd have loved this! I'm absolutely positive he would've gotten a kick out of the way the election went, too.
I am so happy to be alive in this incredible time.
Thanks, Jen. >^~~^<

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

love it - just watched them completing it, terrific!
greetings from Scotland

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterweewiccababe

I love this! Thanks for the heads up.

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Did I miss it? I'm always buggered with getting the time zones right. It said "off air" when I checked it :-(
What I want to know is, who gets to eat those cupcakes afterwards?
I want the nose, please - no eyeballs!

(my word verification is "caksyc" - how apt is that?? LOL!)

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTatersmama

Watched the whole thing while working at home, thanks for posting the info about it. It was fun to listen to Zilly interact with folks and answer questions. Loved how she was with the kids :-)

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Watched the whole thing off and on until completion...absolutely awesome!!!!

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwolfmom

This was so interesting to watch! I'm glad someone finally covered the blonde's coin slot. Food and butt crack shouldn't mix. The entire project was really amazing to watch. I would love to see some video from the actual cupcake production and planning stages as well. It would have been a great food network special. Thanks for the heads up!

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercrankycupcake

That was amazing to watch! Thanks for posting the link!!

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLiz S.

that's pretty cool!

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commentershinejewelry

All I can say is WOW! That is an awesome effort. It must have taken them FOREVER!!!

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLightening

Not only was I glued to my computer, I had it on all afternoon and my junior high kids were fascinated, too. (Apparently we missed the butt crack, but we did catch the messed-up eyebrow) A new generation of cake-wreck lovers is coming!

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterschnuckiputzi

While I think this is an awesome mosaic, I do feel the need to throw a correction in here. Lincoln was not "a president very against slavery." Lincoln wasn't really that concerned with the slave situation at all. He only wanted to preserve the Union in any way possible. In fact, this is what Lincoln said on the subject:
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause."
Cool mosaic, though.

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAGFC

Best. Cupcake cake. Ever.

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda M

I watched the whole thing start to finish...I couldn't pull myself away!

Props to Zilly for being able to fix her error on Obama...he had 3 eyes for awhile but she fixed it without a lot of hassle!

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

That is AMAZING! My stepdaughter alerted me to your blog. I love it! ;)

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNinotchka

Most awesome. Thank you! (from a long-time reader, first-time poster)

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaiane

"Obama's on the left" /snicker
It's a wonder he even made it into the picture. But seriously, neat mosaic!


February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I love it! I could never even manage to master the torn construction paper mosaics during craft time in the third grade, so this impresses the heck out of me.

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Now who doesn't just want to do a belly flop into that?

February 13, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterstinkoid

1. How in the H do they figure this out?

2. I hope those treats are being fed to children starving for sugar!

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBecky B

I watched about the last hour of this and Zilly was incredible. You could tell she was exhausted, but she didn't flap when they told her about the "third eye" mistake. She was very patient with the kids putting it together, with her own kids, and with the reporters. What a cool lady.
And I got so hungry for cupcakes!

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdrgns4vr

Favorite comment by Zilly: "I wish we had 600 more blue cupcakes to make the border deeper". Don't we all wish for 600 more blue cupcakes (only 588 more than I have--I had to make a batch after the video).

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLiza

Hey Cake Wreckers!

Zilly here, after some much needed sleep, so glad to read (most of) your comments! Don't be too mean to my helpers...they worked long, long hours last week and the forehead mistake was mine, not theirs.

For those of you bothered by my voice, I want to assure you I am not sick and no amount of cough drops would help. I have a voice disorder: shot through the throat by bandits in Guatemala 11 years ago. Seriously.

Anyone offended by butt cracks will not be served a cupcake today!
Hee Hee.

And, my personal reason for the two together in the installation is that I am from Illinois, and today I am celebrating the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth and the Inauguration of President Obama. It's not a party unless there is cake!

After we "de-install" today at 5pm, we will deliver any left-over cupcakes to a few different shelters/soup kitchens. I don't want any of my little lovelies to be thrown out!

One more thing: I wanted to do the red stripes in red velvet cake, and Obama in chocolate cake, but this was such a mathematical challenge that I ended up not throwing in another variable. For those who are interested in the way I planned it, I'll be posting that to my blog (find it via my website) next week. Math was as important as the art and baking that went into this!

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZilly

Wow!That mosaic is remarkable.

Your site is a blast! I can't remember the last time I was intrigued and repulsed simultaneously!

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCheesewench

Hooray! Just heard her give a shout-out to the blog on her live interviews on the webcam! Pretty cool. She said, "Hi Cake Wrecks! I'm sure they are watching right now!"

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBets

Zilly, your cupcake mosaic was absolutely amazing.

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

Why are people so eager to compare Obama to Lincoln for god's sake?

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

WOW!!! I am seriously impressed.

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeech

We LOVE Zilly and think she is the greatest cake maker in Buffalo!
Great work.

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Favorite


February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTina

AMAZING work, Zilly (and company). Truly impressive.

Word verification: boficis
Male plant that yearns to be a country singer.

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSheri

Yeah, after I made my comment I saw the part where it was revealed that the forehead was a problem from tray-building at two in the morning, not a problem with tray-unloading during the event.

Wish I could be there to have some Zilly said on the feed, they did their best to follow health code, and if certain anonymice are too finicky to accept these conditions, they're more than welcome to not have any.

Also, pulling one's pants up/shirt down is not the same as "playing with her buttcrack." Jeez.

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterspoofmaster

That's awesome.

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDangGina

That is awesome! It must take an incredible amount of time and planning. They've got to have a "map" of what cupcake goes where. AWESOME!

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJo

Thank you for defending my virtue and dignity Spoof!

Word recognition: Lograb! How's that for synchronicity!

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZilly

"How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg." --Abraham Lincoln

Obama has been in office for one month, and people are already comparing him to Lincoln? In my unabashedly biased opinion, the execution is good, but the concept is full of WRECK. This teeters somewhere between tacky and creepy.

February 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDistressful Damsel

89 posts later... I'm wondering if anyone has thought of what would happen if some poor soul tripped. I think I would be mortified. I also think I'd be unlucky enough to do such a thing, or at the least have one of my kids go "MMM, mommy look what I found!" as he stands there with his face covered in what was once Obama's eyebrow.

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercannwin

I went to the "de-instalation" yesterday. I was really surprised after all that time the mini cupcakes weren't at all stale!

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

i watched this whole build... it was AMAZING how it all came together!

February 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBeckie

Everyone was surprised that the cakes tasted good! We worked really hard on the baking, handling, wrapping, and transporting to make sure of that.

As for kids near the exhibit, I was prepared for an "accident." I brought lots of extra cakes and fondant circles. I would have done a patch up job stat. Remember, 3 of those kids were mine!

Finally, want to share that I took the (very few) left-over cupcakes to a DC soup kitchen. I saw the same looks of expectation as the cake pan came around, heard the same questions (can I have a red one?) and heard the same polite gratitude as I experienced at the museum.

What an amazing experience!

For those politically minded of you who think the subject matter is a wreck, I have done my job as an artist if I have created something that evokes a reaction from you, any reaction. None of you are wrong. If you are interested in my personal reasons for using this subject matter and material you can check out my responses to those sorts of comments on the NPR website and the NYT website. I won't bore the other happy cake people here with those comments!

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZilly

another attempt to put BO on Lincolns coat tails? is anyone really buying this?

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeffery Wright

I honestly don't think people are actually comparing Obama to Lincoln. I believe they're simply highlighting that it was Lincoln who, for whatever reasons he had, set the nation on the path that made Obama's presidency possible.

Enough politics for now - this is an amazing display, and called for hard work on everyone's part. Great job!

February 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiyna


February 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterity bitty me

Now that is Auewsome...

This blog rocks ! Thanks !

February 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

I live in Buffalo (where Zilly works) and she did my sister's wedding--where we ate pie instead of cake. Each person had his or her own little cake-tartlet, compliments of Zilly. She's amazing and everything tastes AMAZING. I'm so pleased it went so well!

February 20, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdie Frau

i liked the warning sign next to the cupcakes... :

February 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDane K

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