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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)

Ok, since nobody else is stepping up to the plate to explain the smoking lamb, i guess I will have to.

Sit back and relax, this may take a while.

Long long ago, in a galaxy far far away...wait...sorry.

Long ago, around 100AD, the Christians of the time were looking to honor Easter in some way. Since Cadbury wasn't around with it's snot-filled chocolate eggs laid by an easter bunny, they used the lamb as a symbol of their devotion to honor their fallen/risen savior.

I believe it was Pontificus IXX, an Arch-bishop in the Catholic church at the time who required that the lamb should be holding a stalk from the palm tree in his mouth. Why? Because it's part and parcel of Palm Sunday. And he decreed that the lamb of our lord should also consume the palm that we use to remember him by. They almost had the lamb holding a staff in his hoof, shaped like a cross, but that never really caught on for some reason.

Over the years, however, corporations came to be and took over the holiday, introducing us to colored eggs, more sugar filled confections than a person could possible consume safely, and yes sadly, the cigarette in the mouth of the lamb. It was the 1940's people, and if Lucille Ball could pitch lucky strikes, then darnit, so could the easter lamb. It was nothing to see an Easter lamb puffing on Marlboro or even a Chesterfield. In fact, some cigar manufacturers even had other barnyard animals puffing on their stogies. And ironically, a chewing tobacco company once had a Camel spitting out the waste portion of their product. An Easter Camel, if you will.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, the branding has been removed since the early 1970's but the symbolism now remains thanks to a sneaky deal with tobacco companies.

In Jamaica, it's a blunt rather than a cigarette, but it's the same idea.

Now that you've read through this....I just want to say, 8 days later....April Fools! I have no idea why they lamb should be smoking. :)

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHogsOfOldDC

If it were meant to be a passover cake, how do you explain the "Happy Easter" tag?

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

If you think eating Christly lamb cakes is bad, then you don't want to know about the chocolate crucifixes I've seen in stores. Crucifixes, not just crosses.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlittle gator

The first two brown lambs look like they're supposed to be Joe Camel, but then someone went and iced it white and that theory went out the window. How strange...

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

really, RememberMe? king cakes? they're totally ugly, that's why.

also, you lot are dumber than whoever made these cakes. you honestly think some baker/decorator somewhere stood around the kitchen thinking "hmmm, i need a scroll/banner/candle/paintbrush....well, i guess this cigarette will do"? seriously? i'm certain there are better options than ACTUAL CIGARETTES. good god!

still, no clue what's going on here. i think there probably really is no reason/story behind it, it just happened.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMia

BUNNY got it right!

It IS from M*A*S*H... so that makes it a SPAM LAMB !!!
At the end of the episode, I remember the lamb with a cigarette stuck in it's mouth, and Henry passing out, draped over the lamb...

("Bunny said...
the smoking lambs are tributes to the Spam lamb, sculpted by Trapper and Hawkeye to replace the live lamb Radar managed to spirit away.")

I found this :

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTatersmama

Well Jesus is presented as a lamb that opens the seven scrolls in Revelations. Maybe?


Best I got.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZoe

Ok. How about somebody who took one of these pictures and submitted it call the bakery that did it and find out why the heck the little guy is smoking a cigarette? I really need to know what is going on.

(Oh, and the reason the lamb in the first two pics doesn't have any wool is because he caught it on fire)

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaraDeanne

While I have NO explanation for the smokin'-freakin'-lambs, I will offer a little ditty I once heard in honor of the child decapitating the lamb cake:

Mary had a little lamb.
It was delicious.

Word verification: spnesse. It takes some real spnesse to put a ciggie in a lamb's mouth.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScritzy

You know, the Easter Bunny at the mall always returns from his "carrot break" smelling like cigs. Maybe there's a connection.

I'm just sayin'

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

This is my first time to your blog. Hysterical. You should really be on stage. I'll be back. Thank you for the chuckles--and cake wrecks!

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCindy

I busted out my mash DVDs to watch the end of Pvt Charles Lamb and while there is a spam lamb which looks very like these brown thing; he has no cigarette in his mouth.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCami

My theory: it's like a firing squad. People eat lamb for Easter, so it's the lamb's last smoke before being eaten. But that's purely my guess. No basis in research or anything.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKBK Bakery

I think someone made an Easter Lamb cake and decided to include a scroll with the Lamb holding it in its mouth (why, well I assume religious reasons) and a cake maker who was ignorant on scrolls being in lambs mouths saw the cake and said "Hey, its got a smoke! I'll include that for my Easter lamb cakes too!"
and other cake makers copied them - leaving us laughing!

I think cake makers should do some research into what they see as a 'good idea' first, but if everyone did that, we'd just be laughing at wobbly icing lines, and this is far more amusing ^^

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNaktarr

I think it has to do with the old firing squad thing. As in, most people have lamb for Easter and so the lamb is being sacraficed as if before a firing squad and it gets a cigarette... but then where's the blindfold?

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEvilKails

I'd like to point out to those who think it's Joe Camel that he isn't exactly the best subject for a cake, being a symbol for tobacco and all.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous


The lamb has a cigarette in its mouth because it is about to be sliced up, and like the man on death row, is enjoying his last cig.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

The only explanation I can think of comes from David Sedaris. In one of his books he talks about how, in Greek culture, they don't stuff your Easter basket with candy, but with cigarettes and liquor. Otherwise, I'd go with the anonymous poster's suggestion that it's just a joke about going back to one's vices after Lent...

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNoctiluca

I'm waiting for someone to simply *ask* one of the bakers who do these things.

Come on, folks, surely there's someone reading this blog who knows one of the smoking-lamb-cake-bakers in question?

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMinorAgentofChaos

The little girl is cutting off the lamb's head. Very interesting.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTreehouse Chef

Obviously they're trying to smush Easter and Passover into one happy holiday. And after all that holiday hanky panky who couldn't go for a cigarette or two?

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergreen

Revelation 5: something about the Lamb (Christ) and the scrolls. It's the apocolypse, baby!

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Seriously? Nobody's thought of Passover yet? You know: Sacrificing a lamb, painting your door frame with the blood, so the evil Old Testament God passes over your house rather than coming inside and stealing your baby boys?
The lamb is enjoying a cigarette because he about to be executed. Everybody on Death Row gets one last smoke.

April 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersgt@arms

"Emily said...

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."

I am going to have to agree with this one..

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Boo

I don't know, it seems fairly obvious to me that the cigarettes are those tooty things you blow on new years. A weird party favor for easter, but I think that's what the tasselly things on the end indicate.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

Maybe it's like that last cigarette when facing a firing squad. Something to calm the little guy's nerves before the execution/slaughter.
Or...that could be the sheep from the Woody Allen movie. I'm pretty sure that sheep had a smoke after the "moment supreme".

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Here's my guess for the cigarettes.

1) It's traditional in some cultures for an Easter lamb to have a sprig of rosemary in its mouth.

2) After spending too much time Googling lamb-cake recipes, I found that several people referred to the lamb having a "stick" in its mouth.

3) As we further "play telephone" with the sprig of rosemary, to some people the stick (the meaning of which they never knew or had long forgotten) became a cigarette.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNobody

I've never heard of a Passover lamb cake. I always thought it was a Catholic thing since Jesus is the "Lamb of God" and you always made the cake at Easter. My family did a pound cake recipe in the lamb mold. We never had anything coming out of the lamb's mouth, so that seriously confuses me.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPirate Alice

if you think about it, i think the lamb cake is meant to be cross-cultural. if you like jesus, it's a scroll-toting sacrifice. if you're a jew, it paints your door. if you're an athiest, it's from a m*a*s*h episode, or possibly it's joe the camel.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The white lamb smoking, that's easy. It is an albino black sheep doing what all black sheep do. It's taking a smoke break.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeep

I didn't realize the butter lamb thing was a Polish tradition. My Polish-Ukrainian grandmother always made one at Easter. I thought it was just something she did. She made hers by cutting shorter pieces off of one stick of butter and attaching them to a whole stick of butter to make a cross, and then she sculpted a lamb out of the left-over butter and set it on top of the cross. We also took our food to the Ukrainian church to get it blessed before Easter.

Oh, and I can assure you, we never had a smoking lamb cake.

WV: hotho. The less said about that one, the better, I think.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjackie31337

... if it's a menthol cigarette, could it be some weird reference to lamb with mint sauce?

... no, I didn't think so either...

Like everybody else, the first thing I thought was Joe Camel. I can't think of any other reason lambs would be smoking.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think the solution to this very puzzling conundrum might just be to contact the bakeries from whence the wrecks came and ASK them what in the heck they had in mind when they shoved those cigarettes into the lambs' mouths...

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKay

well, those are not cigarettes, but very bad representations of those party noisemakers that you blow. Think of new years eve noise makers. Bus still, tasteless! Look more like ciggies than noisemakers. It's be understandable if one person or bakery had the habit of doing so, but many of them? Where do they get their inspirations??

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNonnie

Something is ringing a vague bell about the M*A*S*H Spam Lamb... don't know just how accurate my memory is, but even the shape of all the lambs is the same as the Spam Lamb...

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJust Cupcakes

King cakes aren't cakes. They're coffee cake pastry things. They're supposed to look like that, so they can't be wrecks. Sheesh. Yankees.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

Don't know if anyone has stated this possible explanation for the smoking lamb, but since Passover (which is the reason we have Easter) requires that a lamb be sacrificed, perhaps it is being allowed one last smoke before the deed is done? Having never seen one of these "works of art", I am not sure, but it sees plausible.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJan

I used Google image to find lamb cakes for comparision's sake, and although I didn't look long enough to find other smokin' scroll lambs, there were some amazing wrecks. One had marshmallows on it and looked like a knobby ball (with a face) for a dog. Others looked like shih tzus, bichon frises, westies, and mostly small white poodles. Apparently this lamb cake thing takes serious talent. The effort put into making a decent one deserves a smoke, for both the baker and the lamb.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

OMG!!!!! I make that cake!!! The pan set we have to make it is older than me and I'm 33!! I am just floored that professionals make that cake!! And not very well apparently. Some of mine have turned out pretty weird, but I am not a pro :)
As for the little girl -- I have a great picture of my mom with the lamb head and a huge knife in the other!!

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn :)

I found a picture of one of these in which the animal appeared to be a chihuahua. This might explain the fact that several of them were brown? Although not why one of the chihuahuas had a happy easter tag.....

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

did they used to be joe camels?? i'm baffled!

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentervery married

Ohhh, lambcake. My family has a mold for this, and it's become tradition for me to do the baking. Only problem is that the mold is designed for use with poundcake (which I don't like). So every year I try a new cake, frost it up all pretty with jelly bean bit for eyes and nose, shaved coconut for wool (and some dyed green for the grass he's sitting on), and then I set the whole shebang in the microwave so our cats don't eat it.

Last year, when I opened the microwave to wrap the cake for transport, its head had fallen off. We had to spike it back on with toothpicks. It was the best Easter ever.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCat

I think the "triumphant lamb" is the answer here - check this out

What's on the lamb's head is a "halo" and the ciggy is an - ahem - interpretation of the banner

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Smoking lamb? So weird! :)

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertwinklescrapbooks

My sister had a lamb cake for her birthday one year because it also landed on the same day as Easter. As I recall, it was actually pretty well made (definitely didn't have a cigarette!) and we felt bad hacking its head off.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAgatha

Emily said...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.

Emily..I quit smoking cold turkey in 1991. I was running an endurance test for a job interview. I quit for a week fully intending to resume smoking at the end to the week. But I reckoned if I could quit for a week I could quit forever.

Before the patch, the gum the counseling and the meds. Cold turkey was the only way to quit smoking. I can start smoking anytime I feel like it because I miss my smokes even after all that time.

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHyena Overlord

Perhaps the lambs are Passover lambs? The Jewish passover is the day before Good Friday. Not sure why they're smoking...maybe the lambs are smoked over a spit before Passover meal is eaten?

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

My mother had a cast iron mold of a lamb exactly like those in these photos. Every Easter she would bake a couple of these cakes. She used coconut for the wool, raisins for the eyes, and a slice of a cherry for the nose. Green dyed coconut made the grass and jelly beans were strewn on the grass. It was very cute, and yes, we always ate the but first because there were all kinds of sticks reinforcing the neck, it was hard to slice it. When my mom passed on, my sister inherited the cake mold, and moved to Michigan, so no more Easter lamb cakes. Sigh. Thank you for reading my memories, sorry I have nothing to contribute to the smoking issue. Must be an East Coast thing, however. 8) Windrose

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Maybe the 'cigarettes' were intended as those party-blower things that you see so often on New Year's?

April 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany

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