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

Too Soon?

Michael Jackson died Thursday afternoon. Barely 24 hours later, Laura H. found these in her local bakery:

Yeesh. Ok, so it's America, and I get that we tend to capitalize on tragedy - I mean, have you seen "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here"? - but this seems to be pushing the bounds of good taste, don't you think?

And on top of the whole "let's eat the face of the deceased" thing, they went and made it worse by making them CCCs. [ptoooiee!]

Ah, the perils of putting a group photo on a memorial cake...

Plus, logistically this begs a question: how exactly do you separate the cupcakes in a CCC when there's a large edible image on them? From my experience, that paper is pretty thick.

Two words: dash placement.

Still, I suppose the question of how you eat it is secondary to "who thought this was a good idea?" Even if the wreckerator's motives were pure, couldn't s/he have put a little more effort into them? I mean, these things give ugly a run for its money.

And finally, I know I'm opening Pandora's box here, but what do you guys think about eating a decorated cake to commemorate someone's death? Seems to me there's a reason most funerals have pie: cake symbolically represents celebration. Granted, we should celebrate someone's life in their memory, but you certainly don't want to be seen as celebrating that the person died.

So again, what do you think? Are these cakes some morbid capitalistic ploy, or simply a sweet gesture?


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Reader Comments (195)

Wow. This is just plain bad taste. =P

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulian

I'm still grieving a little, I have to admit. But it occurred to me that maybe they are celebrating his death because they are meanies and didn't like him...

Props to the creative bakers who actually can't use proper grammar but can come up with really smart marketing schemes. Right?

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCasey and Jeannie

morbid capitalistic ploy all the way

Plus I just don't see being all depressed and broken up over someone you don't know and most probably have never met.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterV

Ooh, feisty topic! I won't speak to these particular cakes (I find the whole celebrity culture in general appalling) but I could see a cake being appropriate in a celebration of life type funeral. I know I would personally love for my loved ones to remember me by getting drunk, eating a cake (preferably without my face on it) and telling stories!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeg Spencer

I wasn't aware that pie is usually served in place of cake at funerals. I find myself struggling to remember whether there was cake at my grandfather's funeral 17 years ago. I have the vague impression that there was some kind of cake, but at the time I wasn't eating ANY sweets, so I can't say with any accuracy what kind of dessert there was.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjackie31337

As a decorator, I think it IS possible to do tasteful cakes for funerals/memorial services- but that said, I NEVER have thought that putting a photo of the deceased ON the cake was in good taste. People ask for it, still, and we do it- but it really seems tacky to me to cut into the dead guy's face. Or bite into it. And what else are you gonna do with it?

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhoney

Um um um what to say. Gross but in the sickinly funny way. I hohnestly thought the cakes would be worse then they are.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Daphne

You think that make that for childrens birthdays>>>HAHAHAHAHAHA.. he was great at one time but ended weird and creepy...let them eat cake

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterchefmom09

Just b-EAT it.....b-EAT it....

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

So many things wrong with funeral a.k.a. memorial cakes and not enough time to mention them....except to say that for the most part....they are in poor taste. (pardon the pun :)

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSimplySweeter

As to the question of whether cakes are funeral/mourning-appropriate, it honestly depends on the cake. I've seen sheet cakes at funerals before; they weren't decorated at all though, simply the frosting color and minimal flourishes/piping. Layer cakes and pound cakes, however, are usual fine, at least in my experience.

Something as extravagant as a printed image cake has been done before as well, but it was done by the family as a request of the deceased. Creepy, yes, but if the family has no concern with it, the best I can do is feel rather uncomfortable about taking a slice of tie.

I'm not willing to attribute this to "the man" trying to get our buck just yet. With the event so fresh still, I'd imagine that people are still reacting incredibly compulsively as a result. If two months from now there are P.Y.T. CCCs still lurking around, I will most likely think otherwise.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterm. enigmatique

I actually find it very a "that's in really bad taste" kind of way. You're right...eating cake because someone died IS messed up.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara Doane

AS the finder of this wreck, I thought it was GROSS. I am in no way at all a MJ fan, but c'mon! Cake to commemorate a death? Gross. But I still feel the misguided bakery staff had pure intentions, just with misguided results.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I suppose it's slightly better than eating the face of a LIVE person. I understand the whole "he was my idol" thing, but the thought of eating anything with my idol's face on it, well, just EW! There are less stomach-churning ways to honor his memory.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBreath of Insanity

It does seem very soon, and having pictures on a memorial cake is just creepy! You should check out Glastonbury Festival (in the UK), there were stalls selling "I was at Glasto when Jacko died" before the day was even out!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSerena

Michael Jackson or not, I kind of have a thing about eating the image of someone's face. That's just wrong. And a cake commemorating his death? I'm with you on that - weird!

And one more thing: judging by the looks of some of these cakes, I still can't wrap my head around WHY some of these decorators still have jobs. That's the scary part. That someone would actually pay money for these things is beyond me. Obviously someone does, though, because this blog is still getting regular fodder for our enjoyment! Keep it up! :D

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Deranged Housewife

The question I have is 'why CAKE'? I don't see any Farrah Cakes out there...or Ed McMahon cakes (ok, that would just REALLY be ewwwww)...but seriously? Someone thought a CAKE with MJ's image on it was a cool idea? weird....but then the whole thing is weird..his life..his actions..why NOT cake at this point I guess....

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJaye

...bad taste...

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Look up "begs the question", it looks here like you are using it in the common popular, and incorrect, way.
Otherwise, I love your blog.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I don't have a problem with people celebrating his life and using a cake to commemorate if they so desire. The only one I find weird is the one with the pic of the Jackson 5. It isn't like every member of the group just died.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachael

They had a cake decorated with flowers at my FIL's funeral and I thought it was odd. Cake is for happy times.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeorgia Jewel

A recent memorial meal at our church included cake...pre-cut and message, but listed as birthday cake since her birthdate had been two days before her death. The family was honoring a full 80+ years of life, despite limitations caused by a stroke at age 39. I thought it was a great way to include her church family as well.
I've also been in Native American circles where cakes were expected to honor the memory of the deceased and the meal wouldn't have been complete without 2 or 3 large decorated cakes.
My 2 cents...
BTW, many in my family enjoy seeing your choices of cakes and pithy comments...keep it up!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRita

While I am sure there were some wreckers who did this was good intentions I have to say I would bet money played a role in most. I've never been a fan of putting a human (or animal) picture onto an cake and eating it because personally it is disturbing (especially when you slice it) but to each their own. If a consumer feels closer to MJ by doing this than it is what they need to go to grieve. I just think that with ALL the pics of him that the internet hold that they could have picked SOMETHING better.. especially then the one with all the Jackson 5. Cupcakes...again a no no unless you actually put a picture on each one.


June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlhsmallfry

I went to a funeral for an uncle of my (at that time) girlfriend's and there was red velvet cake served afterward because it was so associated with her uncle that it would have been missed. Apparently he adored red velvet cake and was very disappointed if a family gathering of any sort did not include it. To me, this is a great use of cake at a funeral.

That said, food at funerals is for comfort and because grieving is such hard work. Cake, you have to admit, is a very comforting food.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEm

To all those people who said that you can't imagine anyone wanting a cake with MJ on you ever met your black neighbors?

Go...introduce yourself. You will be surprised. Yes...there are people who are different than you are.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I've never been to a funeral, only a few memorials. I have no idea what food is normal. Personally, I wouldn't want to eat the piece with the deceased's face, or the sadly placed dash. That would creep me right out. However, there are many ways to honor a person's life without celebrating the fact they are dead. My mother has requested that we all wear fuschia to her funeral and have a party afterward. It may be unconventional, but so was my mother. It will honor her much more than black attire and somber attitude may be traditional.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate

I knew, I KNEW that you were going to have cakes about Michael Jackson. I just, I could feel it in my bones, when I found out he was dead. It was one of those first thoughts... maybe Paul McCartney can buy his songs back... maybe people will forgive him of the child molestation fiasco and for putting his kid over the railing... there will be cakes on Cake Wrecks, I know it.
Oh I love it when I am right.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan the Muse

hmm capitolistic ploy...

humor me for a moment but you wouldn't see faces of African children starving to death on a cake... so why is it okay to put the face of a dead man on a cake to "honor" him? Paint a picture, buy a t-shirt... write a song... dont make something you have to stab with a knife...

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany

I'd just like to hear the conversation that went on in the kitchen of the bakery from the manager to the bakers.

"Okay now, we all now that Michael Jackson has died and that's sad and all, but hey, it's an opportunity, let's grab it while we can. You, make the cakes and cupcakes. We HAVE to have cupcake cakes. They're so cool. And you over there, you find some cool pictures and run 'em through that edible picture maker thingy. And you, you do the writing. C'mon people, let's get busy and make some money here! All the Michael Jackson fans will be out looking for cakes soon to have at their um...well just get busy!"

Or something.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDorci

Anon 12:37,


Seriously, I didn't know if I should reject it as racially insensitive or not. You should clarify and put your name.


so, where are all these funerals that have pies? I've been missing out on something.


June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Is there really usually pie at a funeral? I've never seen pie, but I've always seen cake.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNick

The King of Pop looks very tasty indeed. I mean, what better way to assuage one's grief?

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

cake is fine at a funeral or memorial, or even "in memory" but cake with the deceased face??? WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpeewee


June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterX

It looks like another American way to make a buck.

Yeah... God bless America.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

Personally, I find them completely inappropriate and money-grubbing, but it does cause me to reflect on the Food Network Elvis' Birthday commemoration cake challenge.

I think timing is the difference. Elvis did appear on most of those cakes, but in an almost cartoon-character fashion and it has been thirty years since his death...

WV: duloatid - Time has duloatid the inappropriateness of the Elvis cakes.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCyndi

My thoughts . . . it is insensitive of anyone to question the style of grieving of others, and to exhibit disgust over grieved fans eating the picture of MJ . . . really?

More than exposing bakeries for capitalizing on loss (something that funeral parlors most assuredly do, and I'm not sure why a cake would seem worse to people than overpriced boxes and burial plots), this blog has exposed the narrow mindedness of people unwilling to accept that grief is not a one size fits all.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNick

Tragic (and somewhat hilarious) American crassness. Great post.

Unrelated, but I just wanted to mention: I've noticed you use the phrase "begs the question" a few times on the site when you mean to say "raises the question."

Please don't think I'm a language snob or a grammatical prescriptivist when I point that out, but a lot of people don't know that "begging the question" doesn't simply mean to raise a question -- it's actually a technical philosophical term for a logical fallacy in which an argument is meant to be true with no proof other than the argument itself. (Like saying: "I'm popular -- you can ask all my friends!" or "She's beautiful because she's so good-looking.")

It's a small quirk of language, but I think it's a linguistic distinction worth preserving! For more information about "begging the question," check out:

And pass it on!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKat

Morbid...if the bakery wanted to show their sympathies they can donate to the numerous charities and causes Michael Jackson supported.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHyena Overlord

Since when did the CCC become the food of mourning?

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Considering how much of an impact he had on music, I can totally see people having funeral parties or wakes to observe his death. I don't find that weird.

I do find any cake with a person's photo on it bizarre, living or dead. Icing portraits done well are fine, but actual photographs are just plain creepy.

I don't do funerals, myself, as I find them morbid in and of themselves, and prefer wakes. One friend's wake included many of us sitting around a bucket of ice cream armed with spoons and a bottle of magic shell.

@ John (hubby of Jen):
Racially insensitive, and downright racist, without a doubt. I seem to recall the pictures of past birthday cakes with Jackson on them were not all going to little black kids. The man affected, and inspired, a whole generation, not just some arbitrary portion of it.

Andara Bledin

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPolly

I'm with anonymous above. I love your weblo - it always cracks me up. But misuse of "begs the question" hurts me like a CCC hurts you. Please refrain.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNathan

I once saw on a baking community someone asking which were the most appropriate cupcakes to make for a friend whose sister had just been found murdered. How about none?!?!

I think a memorial cake could be appropriate in some circumstances, probably when the person who died was a big baking fan and you want to remember their little quirks, I guess in the same way you might have their favourite drinks or listen to their favourite music.

I'm sure some of these cake were made with good intentions but they are totally tacky.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

It'srong in so many ways.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichawn

American infatuation with celebrity and the tragedies that befall our celebrities is way too over the top. Cakes, tattoos, tribute album sales on iTunes, and all other forms of merchandising are all capitalistic moves for a piece of the pie (or cake?). Furthermore, there are many ordinary people who have done more good in this world than some recently deceased celebrities and have died without fanfare. That is what the real shame is.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSpencer

I had no idea funerals had pie.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I don't know. I think being heartbroken over the death of Michael Jackson is more bizarre than any cake. The tears I've shed have been those of relief and joy that he'll never hurt another child again.

I'd buy that cake - in wild celebration that the monster is GONE!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCharlene

Yeah, there really is nothing UN-weird about eating the face of a dead celebrity (or anyone else, for that matter). And, I certainly don't mean anything bad by this, because I was a huge Michael Jackson fan (loved him!), but, as odd as he was (hey, he WAS....) this sort of thing might have been right up his alley! ;)

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

I enjoy this site simply to marvel at the hideous and be astounded by the amazing. Certainly not to analyze the problems of the world or decipher the inner workings of the human mind.

When I read some of the indignant comments and idealistic statements about how the world should operate, I am reminded how much easier it is to simply put on a pair of slippers than to carpet the entire planet.

It's CAKE! Find some perspective!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

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