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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


Like the Mardi Gras King Cake, I suspect that the Easter Lamb Cake is just inherently Wrecky. I mean, this one Jamie B. sent in is a good one:

So really, it's like shooting apples* in a barrel to go after these things: just too darn easy.

However, I will go after the smoking lamb cakes:

I've seen several of these cigarette-puffing lamb cakes now, and I'm totally baffled. I get the lamb/Easter connection, but where's the cigarette feature? This one Monique R. found actually has a "Happy Birthday" sign around its neck, but most say "Happy Easter". Here's a better example:

What I find even more hilarious is the fact that it looks like both lambs are wearing chocolate yarmulkes.** Oy vay! An Easter lamb schmokin? What kind of mishegas is going on here?

Here's a variation, lest you think only one bakery out there is making these crazy things:

I'm guessing this is some kind of regional tradition, but I look forward to you lovely readers filling me with your wisdom. Explain this madness to me in the comments, so we can all learn something today, eh?

And before I leave you, here's one more photo sent in by Kat:

It's not really a Wreck; I just love that little girl's expression as she's preparing to lop off the lamb's head. You can almost hear the Responsible Adult going "Now, dear, let me help you..." as she's gleefully hacking away. Heehee! Oh, and that spot of jam is well-placed, too.

*Yes, I know it's supposed to be "fish in a barrel", but I would never shoot a fish. Too messy.

**For the record, this is the hardest word to learn to spell by looking up in the dictionary, ever.

UPDATE: And the answer is....[drum roll]

I don't know. Yep, despite having lots of theories floated my way - each one seemingly more bizarre than the last - I still haven't heard a silver-bullet explanation for the smoking lamb cake. However, reader Rosemary was kind enough to compile the most prevalent/reasonable-sounding theories in her blog here, so check those out and see which you think it is.

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Reader Comments (327)

Here's a picture of a lamb cake that's being done by a bakery in my hometown. I think it's actually kind of tasteful and I've gotten one for my mom for Easter. That said, I'm not really looking forward to lopping its head off :(

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatelynn

The Paschal Lamb is often depicted holding a flag or pennant. I wonder if the cigarette evolved from someone saying, "Well, can't we just stick the flag in its mouth?"

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterD.B. Echo

Hey! Leave my King Cakes alone!

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

aww, just look up kipa then it should redirect you. ^_^

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I don't know why people are freaking about the tot with the knife. I mean, who among us hasn't gleefully bitten the heads off of animal crackers or gummy bears? It seems like a natural kid thing to do.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersteeple333

This lamb cake is on fire." REL="nofollow">here

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSarahW

I agree with some people on here. It is a scroll.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Here's my theory, not that you asked. They're supposed to be scrolls, but the wreckerators, in all they're wrecky ingnorance, did their best to copy off of an original, which we've all seen fail before, and somewhere along the line, they've misinterpreted it to be a cigarette. Kind of like a bad game of telephone, where you whisper something in someone's ear, and by the time it gets to the 20th person in line, all semblance of what was originally said has disappeared.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCara

All the smoking lambs here, and a few others I found, trace back to New York City, and I would bet to that one Hot Bagel & Pizza place. So this isn't any kind of national phenomenon or ethnic eccentricity. And it appears to have been available year-'round with a birthday angle, so the Easter variation is probably either a homemade sign or just some baker adapting the tradition to the season.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

ummmmm on a side note: what the heck is wrong with king cakes?????? theyre DELICIOUS!!!!!!

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

Wow, a Google image search of "cigarette cake" turns up some really nauseating cakes! And yet another lamb with an actual cigarette (about to get his head sliced off):

Some clues for the sleuths:

It may be a loaf of bread and not a cake, the photos were taken on November 17 (National Bread Day??), the caption says "Russian delicacy", and you can see a "Happy Birthday" card in a second photo.

The lack of info out there makes me believe this is a joke/meme and not a real tradition.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBootiecat

Susan - your explanation makes the most sense. Anything hinting at the cluelessness of the decorator seems like the most logical explanation to me :)

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterashleyalvina

I would love to see Sara's scripture made into a cake!

"Then I saw, between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. The Lamb went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne."

Seven horns and seven eyes . . . wrecktastic!

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSandi

Well, this is really quite obscure, but there is a poem but James Wimsett Boulding called Agnus Dei in which there is a line "Lo, I saw thee stand amidst the opened heavens what time the lamb was smoking on the alter." It's in book VII--pg. 151 if you look at it on Google books. Maybe someone got a little literal.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSage

Heh. None of these explanations sound even vaguely accurate.

Cake is not exactly a Passover food, friends. :)

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie Japannie

Sorry to burst all the Joe Camel theories, but these lamb cakes do NOT look like Joe Camel. Nor do they resemble real camels, whose ears are significantly smaller in relation to the size of their muzzles. Besides, Joe Camel is always represented anthropomorphically, and these are clearly not.

As for why these lamb cakes are smoking?? Yeah, haven't a clue...

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think susan is right and it is someone's interpretation of the pascal lamb with the banner in the back...perhaps they saw a 2D version that flattened it out...I mean we are talking about wreckorators here!

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSheri

Baa Baa Black Lung.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVanilla

First of all, does the lamb have to pay the new, ridiculous ciggie tax in California?

Second, DH thinks it might have something to do with the putting of blood over doorways per the Bible. Then again, he thought the second one was Joe Camel.

Being a pagan, I'm always amused by Christians associating lambs, bunnies, eggs, etc., with Easter. I was born and raised a Catholic, so I'm no stranger to all the weird rites for which there seemed to be no explanation. However, ancient religions call the occasion "Ostara". From

"The word Ostara is just one of the names applied to the celebration of the spring equinox on March 21. The Venerable Bede said the origin of the word is actually from Eostre, a Germanic goddess of spring. Of course, it's also the same time as the Christian Easter celebration, and in the Jewish faith, Passover takes place as well. For early Pagans in the Germanic countries, this was a time to celebrate planting and the new crop season. Typically, the Celtic peoples did not celebrate Ostara as a holiday, although they were in tune with the changing of the seasons."

And, of course, Eostre seems to have something to do with... ta da!... eggs. Hmm... could the elusive Easter egg hunt finally be associated with the rising of Christ?

It's well known that when the Christians decided that we were... um... Pagans, and needed to be converted, many of the Pagan worshipping sites became the sites of new churches (which the Pagans were forced to build), and many of the Old Rites were bastardized to become Christian holidays. Check out some old cathedrals or churches. Chances are you'll find a gargoyle or twenty. Think those are Christian? Nope. The literature thinks they were put there as a form of protest by the Pagans - a sort of thumbing of the nose, if you will.

For all I know, the ancient farmers lit up some ganja as they planted (or built).

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPam the Yarn Goddess

Okay this is making me NUTS but this is the only thing I could find. at least one bakery in question is in Texas and I found this news story.

could this really be the reason for the smoking lamb cakes?

Jen H.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny.Headlee

clapping!!!!! i, i just don't even know what to say! i can now bring your post to easter dinner to proove to my husband's disapproving catholic family that i am not the only one who makes a Lamb of God cake for easter!! They can eat it this year with crow.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterebe

In a google search I found that there is sometimes a "flag of victory" associated with the Easter lamb. Here is my adaptation of the thought process one baker went through that started this whole cigarette cake craze:
"Hmmm, the cake is done, but it seems incomplete. I remember as a kid always seeing the lamb with something..... I remember it was white.... with some red.....was it wispy?... I just can't put my finger on it.....I'll take a smoke break and think about it more.... Wait a minute! It must have been a cigarette! Yes! That must be it! I can just take this cigarette, dip the end in chocolate, roll it in orange sprinkles, and stick it the lamb's mouth! Now THAT looks complete!"

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Google Angus Dei CAKE and found this:
Agnus Dei. A cake of wax or dough stamped with the figure of a lamb supporting the banner of the Cross, and distributed by the Pope on the Sunday after ...

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

Here we go again...the bad- influence lamb is getting ALL of the attention!
And there is that sweet and innocent little darling in the first picture (yes, there IS a first picture), just minding her own pretty business... sitting there in her freshly-swirled frosting, her two best jelly beans cuddling at her side, and look-- she even has on false eyelashes to sweeten the pot. But does she get any recognition? NO! Not Little Miss Goody Two Shoes! Her wistful expression says it all (*sniff*)...while putting on a brave face, she's trying to figure out what all the fuss is about...what she could possibly have done better...

.....where she might be able to procure her own cigarette.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

Yeah we make one every year, except last year where the lamb pan got lost and still isn't found, so we will have Easter Chick Cakes this year, complete with yellow frosting!

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer A.

Perhaps the cigarette is replacing the cross--if you're smoking it's your cross to carry? Stretching here...

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTawn

that's definitely Joe Camel... he's got the hat thing going on i think.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdomino_dreams

A sly reference to the band The Smoking Popes!

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentervespabelle

My kids love to decapitate the lamb cake, last year's was the garotte.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDiana Newton

it's meshuga

or meshugah

or sometimes meshuggah

but never mis-anything

You so crazy!

Still trying to find out why it is smoking. I like the "Lent is over, back to your vices" theory, but I wonder if there's not more to it.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKerry

I'm guessing that the cigarette in the lamb's mouth has something to do with Lent. I think people might give up smoking for lent and now that it's Easter they can smoke again? Just a wild guess.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAbby Mars

Oh, someone already said that.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAbby Mars

OMG, my mother still has the pan to make one of those lamb cakes! Of course when she made one, it was usually for the church Passover dinner (the whole thing was symbolic, not meant to be the real thing) so she always decorated it to look like a real lamb, but wow....

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My take on the smoking lamb: Mary's little friend is flying in the face of conventional Easter traditions by a) not being frosted, aka, strutting her "natural" beauty, and b) expressing her freedom to smoke should she so choose. I mean, if a newly shorn (naked) lamb cake can't smoke, then who can?

It doesn't have to make sense to be utterly hilarious.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I live in an area with a lot of Greek families, who celebrate Orthodox Easter (or 'Greek Easter' as it's known in Melbourne). I've seen lamb cakes in shops around here and they do seem to have scrolls in their mouths rather than anything tobacco-related. Maybe these bakers just got a bit carried away, or are copying a reference picture done by one smartarse baker who thought, "Hey, they scroll looks kinds like a cigarette!"

I know of one display case 'lamb' that looks a lot more like a llama.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

Easier way to spell yarmulke- kippah. That's what it's called in Hebrew.

ANd I have to agree with the others- it's not a Paschal lamb. No cake for us Jews until sometime next week- though we can enjoy the ones here- semi-guilt free;-)

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterterrib

Okay first of all, you crazy people, those things are *definitely* cigarettes. Not scrolls, not candles, not paintbrushes.

If you look at the second one, it's even got that thin line of color where the "filter" would be, like many cigarettes do.

As to why, though... man, ya got me. I could see it being one bakery's joke about it being the lamb's last ciggie before being executed, but these clearly came from different bakeries, so...

So far Google is failing me but I'll keep looking!


April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The only time I've been served a cake like was at a Passover Seder, but it was just a lamb, no cigarette or other decorations. If the bakery uses real cigs, does that mean they can't sell te cake to anyone under 18?

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiriam

I'm from Belgium and it's a tradition for kids on their communion to have an icelamb with raspberry filling, so that it bleeds when you cut it up. Don't really know the meaning behind it (it's tasty though), but it's supposed to be a sacrifice. There's more pictures if you do a search for "ijslam" (icelamb in dutch) on google.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Don't some people eat lamb for Easter dinner? Maybe it's smoking it's last cigarette, just before the slaughter.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Even if those lamb cakes were made of the terrible kosher for Passover honey cake (since anything leavened is unkosher during Passover, so you need special cakes), there is something inherently and grossly unkosher-seeming about having even a depiction of a lamb holding a paintbrush of its own blood in its mouth. Just...eww. Also, Passover really isn't the kind of holiday you celebrate with a humorous cake.

AHA! Found some more about it:

"But I am glad to hear that the dessert ritual has not been discarded. There is still an "ijslam" or "ice lamb": a cake topped by a spotless little lamb made of vanilla ice cream. The communicant is invited to stand in front of it and is solemnly handed a large, sharp knife. Wielding the knife with more or less dexterity, this seven-year-old proceeds to saw off the lamb's head! His or her effort is rewarded when the head rolls onto the platter and red syrup (grenadine) oozes out of the neck.

Gruesome? I find that there is something innocent and very appropriate about it. It is a moment when the religious spirit of the day is reasserted, albeit rather crudely. Still, as for myself, I don't remember grasping this point at all: I was just thrilled to be holding that big knife, and looking forward to the ice cream."


Apparently it is a Belgian thing, never knew that. The cigarette is a mystery to me as well though.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

found this about the "Hot Bagels" place in NY, apparently the lamb cakes are made by an Uzbekestani guy, but still doesn't really explain the cigarette thing.....

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSaraJo

Jessica is incorrect; the Lamb's Cake Slices by Kane's of New Zealand is a spoof product (but I love that people truly think NZ'ers would smoke/produce tobacco containing "real lamb juice and a hint of mint".)

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The only thing I can think of is the sacrifice thing. Who would buy one of these for their families? They're actually sort of scary." REL="nofollow">Here's an example of an ice cream lamb from a place in Belgium (which, for the benefit of the Louisiana commenter is in fact not in Eastern Europe ;).

The Dutch copy reads:

"All lambs are made of vanilla and strawberry ice cream, with blood. Available without blood or in other (ice cream - ed.) flavors by request."

Is the concept of small children celebrating their entry into the Roman Catholic Church by beheading ice cream livestock weird and creepy? Sure, but then so is transubstantiation.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAreia

It is a Passover lamb, and that is a bloody paintbrush in his mouth, representing the lamb blood painted over the doors of the Hebrews so the spirit of the Lord would "pass over" their homes.

As for cake being unkosher during Passover...I would imagine the cake is intended to celebrate the END of Passover.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

I think it's very funny how we all are a little moritified by the little girl cutting off the head...the funny thing is, give almost anyone one a marshmellow peep or chocolate bunny and see what body part they bite off first....9 times out of ten it's the head. LOL or ears then head, depending on the size of the bunny.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchattyscrapper

If you do a google images search for "smoking sheep", you get a bunch of images from a website called, which i think sells cigarettes online. I can't tell you for sure, cause my company has blocked the website :P The picture looks JUST like the cakes, though. Now the question is, why would anyone make a cake using the logo from a European cigarette seller?? Where are all these pictures from?

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLorien

P.S. No one "gives up" smoking for Lent. Smoking is an addiction and a habit, not something can be given up at will, like chocolate. Do you really think someone would quit cold turkey, go 40 days without smoking, and then just start up again? Doubtful.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

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