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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

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)

Two words: dash placement.

Thanks, I needed that. LOL!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScritzy

are the cakes chocolate inside, but covered with white frosting?

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDean

Yes, it's a nice sentiment. But, on the other hand, it totally doesn't make sense to use a celebratory sweet to commemorate someone's death. (Although, in my book, all sweets are celebratory! :) ) And finally, contrary to what I just wrote, if everyone marked my death by eating cake, I would LOVE it! I would not, however, like it if those cakes were actually CCC's and were covered with 3/4 inch of frosting and a nasty edible image.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJohn and Sarah Sperry

I agree with you jen! I associate cakes with birthdays, weddings, parties... not funerals... it just doesn't seem right somehow...

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Capitalistic! (But not surprising!)
And I wonder... do the cake makers have the rights to the images?? My neighbors could not make a grad cake with the grad's image because the image was copyrighted by the school photographer!!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think some people might actually not have the cake-as-celebration association imprinted on them, but these here? Pure money-grubbing chutzpah, looks like to me. Not cool.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMinyassa

Dean, too funny.

I knew I read all these comments for a reason.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Is the cake/pie thing at funerals a regional thing in the US? I grew up in the South, and my dad died July 2nd. I remember getting a ton of cakes - mostly Texas Sheetcakes (we renamed them after the 4th one, because they're delicious only in moderation) and a fully decorated 4th of July cake.

Maybe i was just in too much of a haze to get weirded out by the whole bringing cake over thing, mostly i was just touched at virtual strangers from my church who went out of their way to bring us food and companionship.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think that as Americans we get way to involved with a celebrities life. I as a fan of Michael am sad that we won't see his vibrant concerts, or anymore records come out. And I feel especially bad for his family-- as I would for any family who goes through something like this. I just don't know anyone who throughs a " We will miss you Michael" funeral other than his family-- honestly who goes to the groccery store and picks up a RIP MJ cake for dessert?

As for the Elvis cake and the food network challenge-- that I think is different, it was to celebrate his music and such after 30 years of him passing. And I'm sure that it'll happen for MJ.


June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha

I say cake is cake, and this makes me want to go get some...

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterakukoomori

Consider the line seriously crossed by these "bakers". It's appalling really.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterThe Greggs

I think it is about capitalism (everything is) and some good intent. Michael Jackson's name and image were on everything during the 80's, because his millions of fans bought the stuff. The fans are happy, the capitalist are happy.

wv- herserm - what a cake decorated with a deceased pic is transported in.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Instead of having a cake with a dead loved one's face on it, I could see doing a cake that the person loved. You can celebrate life through art via the form of cake decorating, but come on - I think eating ANYone's face on a cake is creepy!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSkye

Well...I mean I know he was a big celeb and people are saying things like "he defined pop music," "greatest musician ever," "the Elvis of our generation..." but I don't see any Farrah cakes (thank God) or if we're commemorating (celebrating) the death of famous people--where was the Bernie Mac cake? The Ronald Reagan cake? If the argument is that he was so loved by the people...did anyone eat a cake with a picture of Pope John Paul? He was pretty loved by a large group of people. I don't know I think it's weird--and do you buy the cake to eat alone or is this a shared event with your family? Do you give it to someone for their birthday? Odd.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I keep knocking around the question, "Who is going to buy this?" What occasion or reason would support this cake?

I could actually see someone's spouse coming home with one of these and saying, " Dear, I don't know if you've heard, but something tragic happened today. I can't say the words, so here."

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I think this is a little too weird. I would not want to be remembered by people eating my face on a cake and it doesn't seem right that people are profiting off of his death. Obviously flower shops and those types will but bakers? Come on!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Yeah, so when I heard MJ died, the thought NEVER crossed my mind to get a cake. Ever. I was thinking about the child molestation cases, the parents who set them up and the kids who will never get closure!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMeg

I guess I look at it this way....

If someone specifically orders a cake like this, then the bakery should proceed.
However, these look like cake they made hoping someone would walk by and say "hey, yeah. I guess I do need an MJ cake today" which is just weird.


June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I like the second one ... it implies that the entire family died, not just him.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

These are so wrong.

And yes, cakes are for celebration typically, but I will bring up the Demetri Martin argument - hard times are the times when you really WANT cake...

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

It isn't the fact that there's cake, so much, as it is the type of cake that's dismaying.

A cake decorated like a record would be a celebration of Mr. Jackson's work, and therefore appropriate.

Similarly, were a decorator to use one of the tombstone cake pans usually used at Halloween, it would be a respectful marking of his passing.

Alas, I fear the next few days will bring Thriller cakes, and that's just too...much.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterasphodel-ale

"Morbid capitalistic ploy" pretty much sums it up. Who would actually buy any of these?

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDangGina

In the south when someone dies, you send food, including cakes ( without the photo of the dearly departed on them) to the family home so the family can gather, make arrangements for the funeral etc. and grieve without the added burden of making meals for everyone.

I believe in capitalism too but this is the limit for sure...

Very poor taste in every bite !

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Pie? I've never been to a funeral where I was served pie.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMicheleinCA

I am upset about Anons attacks on Jen and her Hubs...come on people...lighten up !

Michael Jackson was all about inclusion not division...playing judge with a throw of the race card is not fair ( especially to those of us who don't know the ins and outs of every cultural group on the block ) or very attractive either.

Sign your name and own your negative comments !

Sorry Jen & John for my little rant...if you don't want to post this, it's fine with me... I just had to vent !

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

I'm not a fan of photo cakes anyway. It's not just the "eating someone's image" thing -- which does weird me out -- but those kinds of cakes seldom taste good, and (IMO) aren't very creative. If you love the picture that much, frame it and put it next to a cake that looks and tastes like something someone would want to eat.

I grew up in the south, and while pies definitely outnumbered cakes as after-funeral gatherings, I do remember a few cakes -- but not a single one with any writing or a face on it. Usually any decorations were minimal - a simple border, a lily, etc. I remember one very pretty one that was decorated to look like a basket of daisies, which was the deceased person's favorite flower.

(And I hate to say it, but I have seen many a cake given away by the family to someone with a "Please, take this home. We're not in the mood for cake.")

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwren

Owch. FAR too soon. Who the hell would WANT to order such a cake?

Oh, and I signed myself up for Twitter, with minimal information given, as usual. ;)



June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGryph

We have always had cake at funerals in my family. Usually a sheet cake decorated with a few flowers. Sometimes the church ladies will bring pies, but the cake is so much easier to feed a group of people with.

But I've never seen anything this...strange.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterharassnave

Taking one of those types of cakes to an event for people that were actually personally closely associated with Micheal Jackson (like his family and real friends) would be in very poor taste. However I don't think they were meant to be used to for funeral type events like that. I think that the stores probably intended for them to be used in gatherings by fans.

I could see those style cakes being okay for bringing to a fan gathering and I know several people who've had small ones in the last couple of days. They just got a few friends together and listened to Jackson's music and watched his videos and shared their Jackson related memories and had a good time and celebrated Micheal Jackson's contributions to music and culture.

However, those wrecks were so poorly executed that I can't think of any place at all where those particular cakes would be welcome. If you're really trying to have a moving tribute or even a fun but loving and respectful celebration of the departed's life, I would think you'd want something more beautiful and tasteful and carefully made than those.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Owch. FAR too soon. Who the heck would WANT to order such a cake? That's beyond tacky.



June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGryph

Oh my god, creepiest things ever! What a horrible idea, plus, who wants to eat a cake with a dead celebrity or anything else on it?

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMari

I'm fine with cake at funerals (or whatever). However, I don't see why "cake at funeral" HAS to equal "cake with edible picture of the person who died". There are so many other ways to decorate a cake in tribute to someone. What about including things they liked to do or places they really enjoyed. Just because edible images exist doesn't mean they have to be used. Especially when in memory of someone who died.

As far as the grocery store cakes for MJ, they could simply write on the cakes. Or piped the glove in the background and added some edible glitter. So many better options. Anybody who doesn't get that a more subtle design is in tribute to MJ's death probably isn't going to buy any MJ tribute cake anyway. Think about your audience Wreckerators!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Who walks along and sees those cakes and thinks "I want to buy these and eat them."? I don't really think it's a bad idea to eat a cake with a dead person's face on it as long as you don't smile when you hold the cake and think "ahahahaha I get to cut you and you can't stop me!" I just think the idea is bizarre... kinda capitalistic if a store does it without it being a custom cake but yeah. It could be worse... I don't know how it could be but there's bound to be something worse...

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBilby P. Dalgyte

I'm in between. In the first place, it's a bit frightening to get a cake. Are people calling all their friends up for a nice 'MJ-is-dead' is party? Really? IF you really wanted cake to memorialize him, though, I think it would be more appropiate to buy something WITHOUT a photo. That's just creepy*.

The dash placement can't be an accident. We have a cake decorator out there with a twisted sense of humor, because that's too... strategically placed to be an accident.

*as is Michael Jackson.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEEK!

People feel they must eat the body and blood of their savior: Michael Jackson!

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

why no love for Farrah?

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I totally agree - cakes are meant to be celebratory. Too soon and definitely a bit creepy.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAly

Tacky. Period.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Augh! Tacky, tacky, tacky. I'd hardly call myself a fan of MJ, but this makes me kind of sad. For him, for his family, and mostly, I think, for humanity. Who the heck goes "Hmm, someone famous died, let's make a cake of it!" I could fill an entire page with the word 'tacky' repeating over and over and it still wouldn't convey how this makes me feel.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdesibarbossa

another poster said 'hellah crazy'

i think that sums it up. ugh.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlauren aka mlpieters

i think people are just stunned.

a lot of the ones who made or ordered made these silly things were probably trying to do something nice in their startled grief.

i'm only semi-surprised @how much this is like when elvis died. speaking of michael jackson, my parents let me go live w/ my exhusband when i was fifteen--it was only a couple of years after elvis' death & there were ZILLIONS of peculiar products w/ elvis on them. i still have some post-mortem elvis bubble gum. & we ordered a rug off late night tv. it was supposed to be handpainted but, you know, it wasnt.

i'm SURE there were elvis cakes.

there just wasnt any photoshop cake paper to put on them.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter::poltergasm::

Yannow, I was never a fan of Michael Jackson as a musician or a person, and I find this incredibly tacky and classless.

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjanet

I think the Chinese in me is seriously disturbed at the thought of eating anyone's face, alive or dead, but...

Srsly, too soon! I'm sure they meant well, but this just leaves a bad taste [if you'll pardon the pun]

June 27, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChocolate

i feel a little guilty for thinking these cakes are funny. i guess i am an ironical, heartless cynic. with guilt. that's attractive.

i can imagine a certain type of bereaved fan who would buy a cake like this, but it is confounding.

for one thing, how could it possibly occur to the average person, that: 'huh, i need a cake to mark the passing of my idol.'

so it had to be set out as an impulse buy, right?

so somebody is supposed to see that cake sitting there and think 'what-ho, now there's a good idea!' and then bring it home, and horrify their family with it...?


June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachel Leastlikely

oh yikes! this seems like two different issues here.

1. ugly cakes (scribble?)
2. eating the picture of a face of a dead person

see, really i take issue with eating a cake with ANYONE's face on it... (maybe that's just me) but a dead person's face? um yeah. that's just creepy AND disrespectful. and frankly... weird.

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterhenny

I have been a fan of cake wrecks for about 8 months! I love it...keeps me smiling everyday! Stupid question though...I see references to "ccc" a lot...what does it mean?

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

I agree with you completely. Cakes and funerals don't go together. not only are these wrecks bad (who wants to eat the strategically placed hyphen?) but in poor taste.


June 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterliz

It was meant to be a joke, in all honesty.
I'm the wreckerator.
I hate my job, so I make it better by making myself laugh with terrible CCC's.

I have a morbid sense of humor, I didn't expect anyone to actually buy them. I was going to pull them from the floor the next day, but to my suprise two of them had been purchased. LOL.

To Anon, Kat and Nathan,

Okay. Let me see if I got it right. The only proper use of the term "begs the question" would be something like the next exchange:

"That watch is really expensive because it costs so much money!"
"Well that begs the question, doesn't it?"


First off, nobody would ever say that. They might call you stupid or say you're using faulty logic but they wouldn't use that phrase because it doesn't mean that anymore. It sounds condescending and haughty.

So here we have a phrase that has made it's way into common usage, even among well educated folks, and it's come to mean something else. Does that mean that the way Jen used it is wrong? Well yes and no.

"Rule of thumb" doesn't have anything to do with beating your wife or measuring crops in a field but we still use it because it means something else now.

The rainbow, which used to be thought of as a promise from God not to flood the world again now means, to most Americans, that anybody associated with it is gay.

My point is, evolution in language, symbolism and culture is real and (mostly) helpful in the progress of society. Maybe the whole "Begs the question" debate should remain the practical joke it started out as.

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

To the wreckerator:

Your masterpiece (and the rave reviews it is earning here) clearly 'begs the question': How are you planning to top this? You are uniquely poised to elevate this from mere bad taste to a travesty - please don't let us down.

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Anderson

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