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)

Well, I agree this is in bad taste. But also wanted to say that at least in the south cakes are often brought to the family. Of course along with fried chicken and chicken salad sandwiches.
Never would the cake say anything or heaven forbid have a picture of the deceased.

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy L

I am thinking Billy Mays cupcakes are next.

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMJ wreckorator

Wow...I suppose you have fully misunderstood my statement.

My point was the people who think that "No one wants a cake like this" are those who are being racially incentive.

Talking about racial difference is not the same as being racist.

If my friend was murdered I would never put a memorial on the back window of my car, but most of the Latinos I know have one on theirs.

I would never put a photo on a cake, but I have been to numerous black and Latino funerals where the deceased's photo was on the cake.

When I told my next door neighbor about this cake wrecks post, she gasped "I want one!" and lamented that the grocery store around the corner didn't make cakes anymore.

I meant to say that people are different! Making blanket statements like, "What crazy person could be so tacky?" Is ignoring the cultural and ethnic differences of the people around you.

Jenny even said, "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?!?!"

How about just because you wouldn't make cupcakes on such an occasion, that doesn't make it wrong.

My name is Emily. I'm not sure why that makes a difference. I always post anonymously because I'm not a blogger.

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Dear, sweet Emily,

I can only assume you are talking to me with this comment so allow me to make a few observations of my own.

The question in this post was one of whether people feel this type of cake is appropriate or tasteless. We allow open dialogue on Cake Wrecks and firmly believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion (minus the bad words of course).

Your statement, if I am understanding it correctly, was that if someone felt this cake was in bad taste, they should introduce themselves to their black neighbors. This totally baffled me since your statement presumed that all black people would appreciate a cake with MJ on it. This is called Hasty Generalization.

I don't think that you are "racist" but I think that most people would find this way of thinking to be prejudiced, or presuming something about a person based on race, religion, etc. This was also apparent in you statement:

"I would never put a memorial on the back window of my car, but most of the Latinos I know have one on theirs."

Do you see what I mean? I have many friends of many different ethnic persuasions and they all have their own way of viewing the world. Many would think the MJ cakes were tasteless. I tend to agree but that doesn't mean that I don't respect those who would enjoy such a thing.

I assume from your comment that you are young. As you get older, it would be in your best interest to take each person you meet out of the racial box you have prepared for them and treat them as unique, special individuals. And just remember that accepting that there are views that differ from yours is all part of being tolerant.

Best wishes,


I have one word for these cakes...Tasteless.

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Morbid. Capitalistic. Ploy.

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDarla

My dad and I were talking about a name for my home cake decorating business on Monday and he suggested "Cakes and Wakes" as an untapped demographic. I didn't know that there was a need.

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

If someone posted this question on a Michael Jackson fan site then I think we would get a better representation of folks who would purchase. I would never ever buy a Michael Jackson tribute cake or any other tribute cake. I am one of the few people who didn't buy Thriller! My opinion is like myself most people who decorate cakes as a hobby are pretty conservative in their views.

I am from the Deep South and I've seen cakes given to the deceased's family. Usually a pound cake or a coconut cake- something fixed quickly.

Isn't it "begs to differ" and "raises the question?"


June 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Weeelll...I guess if you can put the Corpse Bride on a wedding cake, you can put dead MJ on a cupcake. Not my choice but hey...whatcha gonna do?

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterholly

Yeah. . . I think we've pretty much hit the deep end with this one. Seriously, I know it's the end of the month and all, bakeries are probably trying to figure out ways to snag that extra dollar simply to meet their quota. Minds are racing in the manager's office and suddenly, someone mentions that Michael Jackson has died and that his CDs and so forth are literally "selling like hot cakes." Ears perk up. "Did someone say cup cakes?" There you go folks. This is how poor ideas are made.

June 28, 2009 | Unregistered Commenter.kat.

Personally, I can't stand edible transfers, they always taste like styrofoam to me... But anyway, yeah these cakes are too soon, and as someone else upthread mentioned, it could've been more tastefully done with just a glove and words or something. I was actually more appalled at the t-shirts that I saw on tv, less than 12 hours after he died - I saw news images of that night of people celebrating his life in the streets wearing 'In loving memory' shirts with his name and the dates underneath, as well as a picture of him.

As an Australian, I do think Americans go over the top with things like this (we'd wait a bit longer to do stuff like the t-shirts, I'd like to think, anyway lol - I'm sure no matter what country you live in, there'd always be someone out to make a quick buck) and I also don't understand about no cakes at funerals - we do have cakes, at the wake, at least. Every one I've been to has had cake bought to it, but not a specially decorated one, I guess. Is that what you guys are talking about? Or do you not have cake at all at the wake?

(By the way, love this blog, it's hilarious)

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOzNTM

Creepy. Incredibly creepy.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa (& Billy)

Capitalistic and disgusting and horribly ugly.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHashbrown

I think its very sad and creepy of bakeries ( they look like the supermarkets) to try to make a quick profit off of someone's death with low quality products. What's even worse is someone out there might buy these true pieces of crap.

Moms don't love Mike, kids are screaming ,Mike,Mike...Old men say at least he got rest,me I say he was a king ,now he's a story.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermutuelle

Wow - that was just too fast. I can accept that the real die hard fans will probably want to celebrate his life, but how about the "glove", or the image of his feet in those sparkly socks and black loafers up on his toes - something that is instantly recognized as an MJ image. Just not his face, for crying out loud. To me, this is the pregnant belly baby shower cake all over again - gross.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Morbid and ugly. A double dose of Wreck.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterladycrim

Definately odd...and more than just a little distrubing.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

does eating a picture of a dead person's head (or brothers, for that matter) help in the grieving? or does that even count as "celebrating" a pop icon's life?

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBead Up

I think that instead of memorial cakes with his image they should have honored him by making cakes of his songs (like Thriller) or maybe his glitter glove and red jacket.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn :)

...dash placement...too funny I just snort-laughed at my desk!

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Cake people: I just want to say that I used to bitch that 'some cake site was kicking my ass for Funniest Blog in the contest' but then I came by and now I am like wow, I am honored to be in the same top ten with the effing hilarious cake people. Hats off- hope you win. Will vote for you myself. Take a sec and mosey over to my lamer-ass blog (Pajamas and Coffee... to go with the cake?) post about Michael Jackson if you get a break from being award-winningly hilarious.

(also, must point out that the word verification word below reads 'squatery.' nice.)

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermarymac

wow. such bad taste.

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterglamazini

I want to know.....

...where are the Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett cakes?? Hmmm??

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

I think these cakes have even a lower point...when nobody buys them and they get out the price gun and put a bright orange "Manager's Special" sticker on them. That is just wrong on so many levels.

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Nevermind Ed McMahon and Farrah Fawcett - what about Billy Mays?

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStuart Anderson

LOL, actually it's funny. All three of them sold within two days.

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterwreckorator

did anybody else notice that the hyphen went RIGHT ACROSS his junk?

July 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHannah Turner

Apropos of nothing, traditionally tofu is served at Chinese funerals. In Mandarin, to "chi doufu" (eat tofu) is slang for copping a feel. How do you get from point A to point B? Well, apparently some really tacky people would go to funerals of folks they didn't know, for the free food - an inappropiate behavior aimed at taking something one doesn't really deserve.

Which I guess is actually apropos of something, since these cakes are highly inappropriate funerary food.

July 5, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteramberite

People who see a funeral as a representation of death will find anything celebratory such as a cake distasteful. Those who see a funeral as a celebration of ones life and a joyful occasion of going to ones rightful home will see celebratory things like cake as a welcome addition to the day.

July 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

morbid capitalistic ploy

July 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Cakes aside, what's with the assumption that MJ was a freak/pedophile? To my knowledge, the latter was never proven. And the fact that he led an eccentric, unusual life doesn't make him the former either. Ick. Such allegations gross me out more than those cakes do. The man is dead. From all the interviews I've seen him in, and reading about his life, I can't believe why anyone would have anything but sympathy.

July 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

That's a bit too creepy

July 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

thanks for this post

October 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermutuelle

thanks for this article

October 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermutuelle

Well? Ya know, his fans tried to cope with it, however they could. Granted, the cakes could have been in better taste, so to speak. As a fan for 40 years, though, I spent more time on watching his videos, and celebrating his life, I didn't buy any cakes but, maybe that was a baker trying to cope and mourn with the rest of us. I think it probably wasn't really a good idea to put all the rip and dates on it, I think it would have been more tasteful to simply put a picture of him or the J5 on a cake, and maybe a little decoration or a spray of flowers or something on it, without getting to morbid for people who were simply trying to remember and celebrate his life and music. Just out of curiosity I did a search for Michael Jackson cakes and ran across this one on flicker, take a look: This one really is very well done, and yet conveys a sense of loss without being specific about it, it's a sculptor working out feelings about his passing, the medium simply happens to be cake.
This one too, I think is very well done, it isn't clear from her blog, it seems to be that she either had a Michael Jackson themed birthday party after his passing, or she had one for him to commemorate his 50th birthday...
Then there's this one, now this one I do consider a wreck....:
Here's a tribute cupcake with a simple glove...:
There are others out there, but this gist of it, wreck or not, is fans trying to cope with his passing, and trying to celebrate his life the best they know how to. So yeah, it could have been a capitalistic ploy, or it could have been a sad baker working in a supermarket for minimum wage, remembering someone who made her day go a little easier all the while she was wondering how to keep a roof over her head on minimum wage. Not for me to say...

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Just thought of one more thing I would like to add to my previous comment. When my grandmother died, my sister snagged a piece of the last cake she ever baked from her kitchen and brought it home with her. We ate it together. It wasn't morbid. It was a sacrament.

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I see a lot of comments here about the cannibalistic overtones of eating a cake with the image of the deceased as a way of honoring him. Consider that we are looking at this idea through western eyes. In other cultures besides the basic American idea, this is perfectly acceptable as a way of honoring someone by taking in their essence, so to speak.
The Gingerbread Man originated in antiquity to honor the cereal God, and in eating the man of bread, you were taking in the God's essence. Some ancient cultures had other ways of honoring someone by taking in their essence, either by ingesting a representation, or in some situations, in more literal ways. Frank Hebert in Dune has the Fremen sharing the water from the body of a deceased as an honor, he didn't just get that idea from nowhere. While Michael Jackson was not a God, it is perfectly understandable to me how many of his fans would have indulged in a cake with his photo as they were celebrating his life with such things as music and dancing, as a way of symbolically taking his essence into themselves, making it a part of themselves...

October 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMoon

Thanks for this article

April 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermutuelle

In fact, baking cake when someone dies have a huge meaning.
You can google it if you want, it's kind of a mix of lots of research, but basicly, there's the ancient belief that when someone dies, the soul comes back during meal time with the family or whoever is meanfull.'Cause of it, children should ask for some kind of food - including the cake idea - singing prays for the dead people. That way they would be helping the soul to find the way from purgatory to heaven. Ofc, you can say is just a supersticion, but that's what gives peace for a lot of people around the world, and I've seen some american people doing that too. In fact, the All Soul's Day (All Saint's Day, Hallowmas, all the same thing in fact) means exactly this. So the cake thing is one of the few things that aren't just about commercial interests. Happens that they use it as a way to win money? Yes. But the situation you showed is much more about showing sympathy for Michael's soul, wich I think that is really pure, and blessed. I'm not christian, I just believe that everything is valid to find peace when someone you care about dies. And it's not about celebrating life or dead, but what this someone meant to you while he was here, phisically. Hope it helped you to find the answer for you questions. Otherwise, sorry about that huge text, and you can just wish me a good time on All Soul's day, 'cause it happens to be my birthday, lol.

April 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterN.
May 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjerome

Veru interesting sharing , The comments was heartfelt.

June 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMutuelle

Morbid and ugly. A double dose of Wreck. Absolutely true. xx

October 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCupcakes Lady

Good, i like ! thx

March 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertchatche

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