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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
Wednesday
Jul082009

Christmas in July: Going Dutch

Ok, sure, it's July, and the last thing on your mind is broadening your...uh...mind...with exposure to international holiday traditions - I get it. However, this particular post was deemed by the powers that be* too controversial to post back in December, so all my hard work and sparkling wit got shelved, its radiance cloaked all these long months.

So what changed?

Well, that's a long story. One involving too many mango mojitos, a Chuck marathon, and a malfunctioning alarm clock. (Ok, so maybe it's not that long of a story...)

But enough intro: you guys ready to have those minds broadened? I promise it will only sting a little.

*meaning me, John, and the cat

In the Netherlands Santa Claus (called Sinterklaas) doesn't have elves for sidekicks; he has Zwarte Piet (meaning "Black Pete"). Zwarte Piet is usually played by a white guy in blackface makeup, a curly black wig, and big gold hoop earrings. (I am SO not making this up.)

Here's a reference photo from Wikipedia:

"Get your hand off my robe; you'll make it dirty."

Zwarte shows up in cake form quite a lot, too, and in less than flattering ways:

However, if this seems a little insensitive to you, Wreckporter Kiki has a perfectly reasonable explanation:

"Dutch people claim Pete is black because of the soot in the chimneys he has to climb down to deliver the gifts."

OH, so it's soot! Ok, I get it. And you're right: this does look a lot like Bert the chimney sweep:


We all know how Bert liked his lipstick.

And dressing up like Aunt Jemima:


This one found by Wouter T. is probably the most wreckish; it looks like the remains of a melting muppet:


Ever heard the expression "in for a penny, in for a pound"? Well, since I'm already stirring up trouble here, I may as well share what Megan H. found at a bakery in Argentina:

They're little cakes called "Africancitos", or "little black men". With bows on their heads. I don't think they're a holiday treat, though, so you can enjoy your little-black-men cake heads any time of the year. "Great for parties!"

(Yes, I've officially crossed the line from horrified disbelief into horrified humor. It's more fun over here - won't you join me?)

To those of you offended by all this, you should know that Zwarte Piet was not intended to be offensive. (Argentina, you're on your own.) And to those of you who see nothing wrong with outdated and racially insensitive traditions, you should take a look at this poster:

« Copyright Unfringement | Main | Who Ordered the Poo Poo Platter? »

Reader Comments (336)

Hum, they could at least use like a powder make-up to make it look more ashy. Plus, has he ever heard of a face mask? Also, if it's ash, shouldn't the lipstick part be the most heavily covered? I...I personally like reindeer.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Capability Bowes:
Trust the bleeding-hearts to be offended on behalf of everyone else. Have you tried asking black people whether they are offended?

Black woman here, and yes, I'm offended (by the cakes and the idea of "Black Pete", not by the post). And yes, it's offensive:

http://www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/tom/

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngel H.

A CHUCK marathon! I so love you!

The little black man cakes look like Mick Jagger dipped in chocolate. Just sayin'.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScritzy

"(Yes, I've officially crossed the line from horrified disbelief into horrified humor. It's more fun over here - won't you join me?)"

all I have to say, is... "welcome to the fun side, what took you so long?"

this kinda stuff seems to go over a bit better in countries that don't have America's er.. spotty racial history...

and hey, it could be worse... there could be cakes of the demon that follows the German Claus.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterakukoomori

I'm African-American and I find the perpetuation of racist imagery of any kind--including cakes--offensive. The cakes are not funny and should not be dismissed as a "regrettable tradition". It is the flippant attitude of ,"well, it's just this or it's only that" allows continued marginalization and oppression. We must ask ourselves why this Christmas fable degenerated into ghastly depictions of people of African heritage. Read up on the history of the Dutch Empire in South Africa. That may help answer that question.

Most people would be horrified if cakes depicting caricatures of WWII concentration camp survivors or First Nations diaspora victims were made into a cake.

*sigh*

I don't really expect people to understand. I can hear all the "yeah, buts" already. It's complex. And people wonder why some of us are so angry all the time.

Context also plays a part. Black people have had to develop a sense of humor about this, too. The post was funny. The imagery was not. Those cakes look like really, really tan Angelina Joilies.

What? The lips...

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergirl6

Calm down Capability Bowes. Other countries' traditions are weird. C'mon, a guy who canes children or bags 'em and carts 'em off to Spain if they're bad?? That's weird!

And did you read about the Caga Tio (pooping log)?? That's just odd! I didn't say Americans didn't have some odd traditions, too, but to me, an American, it's strange to read about the Christmas traditions of other countries.

I didn't say I was offended, I didn't say I didn't laugh about it. Just saying. It's weird.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDorci

Wow, I'm appalled. Please think of your loyal readers and fans before you post something so blatantly racist...even if it is from Argentina. Yes, times have changed...yes, people are more tolerant...but Cake Wrecks is the last place I thought I'd be reminded of such bigotry that is "candy coated" to be passed off as humor. Disappointed. I will not be returning to your site.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I've been telling my (diverse) group of friends how hilarious your site is. Imagine how I felt when I found "Pete" on the homescreen...along with his several other racist variations. I could not even begin to explain. And for the record, a simple "poster" about tradition does not compensate for your lack of judgement on posting this thread.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmbarrassed

I've known for a long time that many OTHER countries are much slower to evolve past racism than America. They keep vewy vewy quiet about it because it suits them for us to take the heat. They marvel at long and hard we keep beating ourselves up.

I agree. Let's make fun of the cakes and leave it at that. Just because.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_claus

As you can read, Santa Claus is a rip off from Sinterklaas. First you had Sinterklaas and when the dutch people came to New Amsterdam you got to meet him. You put your shoe in the hall and when you wake up there is candy in it. You hang your socks. It is pretty much all the same. Most of the kids like the Pieten better than they do Sinterklaas. So better love him because if there was no Sinterklaas you wouldn´t have your Santa Claus. He is even named the same way. Saint Nick (Sint Nicolaas), Santa Claus (Sinterklaas).

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGwen

I live in Belgium and we have the same characters here. However, it is NOT part of the Christmas celebration (and it is not in the Netherlands either). Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet come on 6th December for the St-Nicolas day. And then, on Christmas, we had Santa Claus too! For what I've seen, Zwarted Piet is not played mostly by black guys. This means no exaggerated features... I hope it's politically correct enough for you! (But really, guys, get out more... America and its fear of "OMG, it's racist" is not the only country in the world!)

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMitsuko

Points for the FotC reference on Zwarte Piet!

I love the site (you handled things wonderfully, by the way.)

Every time I go on this site, I laugh so hard I cry. And it's so hard to not do it LOUD - My husband works overnights - so I look kind of crazy trying to stifle my laughter.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLa Pimienta

*sigh*
Another Dutchie here. Here's two facts I'd like you all to consider:
1) There never were slaves in the Netherlands. Yes, Dutch people were involved in the slave trade; but there never were slaves in the Netherlands. So in the collective memory, there is no link between dark skin and slavery. Because, and I can't stress this enough, there never were slaves in the Netherlands. This changes our perpective considerably.
2) If I, as a child, had seen a dark-skinned person (for obvious reasons, we don't use the word African-American here) playing Zwarte Piet without make-up, I'd felt that he was cheating. You can't be Zwarte Piet without a painted face. Hence, it's not about blackness; it's about the costume, that should look a certain way.

I doubt this is going to help, because foreign culture and traditions are OMG scary!!111!!. But who knows.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterm03m

Is it wrong that I just want chocolate cake now? *shrug*

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaPrintemp

Heya.

Just a little addition to the string of comments here. If the posts explaining the origins of 'Sinterklaas' sound a little confusing, it's because technically they are all correct :P
That's what you get for old traditional celebrations I suppose.

Officially, Sinterklaas is "Saint Nicholas"; 'Sint' being a derivative of 'Saint' and 'Klaas' is to 'Nicholas' as Bob is to Robert.

Saint Nicholas is the Bishop of Myra, which is located in Turkey. ( Historical info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas,_Bishop_of_Myra )

Like it says in the document, he has a reputation of secret gift-giving. Most of the stories around him start by Saint Nicholas leaving food and money in the homes of needy families.

As far as 'Piet' goes, they are either Moors he defeated, Moorish children he rescued or Demons he subdued. In all cases, though, 'Piet' voluntarily offered his services to Nicholas after he did whatever it is the stories say. And yes, he's the one who helps determine who is deserving of gifts and who isn't.
My parents (I'm Dutch, no surprise there) used to tell me about 3-4 months before December that I should behave, because Sinterklaas already sent Piet ahead to check up on all the children. The idea of being taken to Spain used to be something of a 'Yay! Permanent vacation!' memory to me, but more motivating was that Piet would tell Sint to skip our home and not give any presents if I misbehaved.

Risking a loooooong story, I would like to part with my 'favourite' legend on Saint Nicholas, as written by the Brothers Grimm. I'll try to keep it short.

Once upon a time there were three children that were fed up with their homes and decided to run away. As things go, the children got lost in the woods and come nightfall were miserable, scared and hungry.
Finally, just after midnight, they found a home on a lonely road. The home belonged to a butcher who gracefully let the children inside and gave them something to eat...
However, that night the butcher snuck into the rooms of the sleeping children and killed all three of them, hacked them up and put them in a barrel of brine to pickle.

Three days later there was another knock on the butchers door and when he opened there was none other than Saint Nicholas standing there. The Saint said that he had taken a wrong turn on his way to a nearby town and hoped the butcher could spare him a bed for the night. Of course, faced with a Saint, the butcher had absolutely no problems of giving up his own bed if need be and even made a grand meal for Nicholas.

After the food was eaten, the butcher asked Saint Nicholas if it was all to his liking.
"Dear butcher," Saint Nicholas said, "the meal you gave me was absolutely wonderful. But I have to admit... the kind of meat that I love to eat most comes from children and has been pickled in brine for three days."

The butcher, realising that he's been cornered and caught now, goes completely pale and jumps out the window and is never seen again. After the man had left, Saint Nicholas went to the barrel with the children in it, tapped his fingers against the rim three times and helped the completely unharmed kids out of the barrel.
He brought them back home and the kids promised never to run away from home again.

-B. Reijns

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterB.Reijns

I also realise that I have been completely superfluous with my comment after the link, since the wiki article went on outside my screen with everything I said as well ;D

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterB.Reijns

That Flight of the Concords quote is one of my favorites. Right along with "And then Alby began to cry great dragon tears...which as we all know, turn into JELLYBEANS!" Isn't it great when you can get a quote to fit sooo perfectly?

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

Ok, this is an honest question and not just an attempt to start a flame war....

What about other instances of dressing up as and/or behaving in a way stereotypical of a particular group? For example, do any women find it offensive when men dress in drag and act in an over-the-top stereotypical way? What about Saint Patrick's Day when everyone pretends to be Irish, dresses like a leprechaun, and drinks too much green beer? Why is blackface considered so much more offensive than these other examples?

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjackie31337

Huh. Last I heard Black Peter was like Santa's evil twin who beats bad children with sticks and then tosses them in his basket or sack and drags them down to hell. I'd never seen him portrayed as literally black and always assumed the name had something to do with the fact that he was supposed to be a devil character.

This post actually makes me want to go all history major on this topic and research the tradition in depth. Quite fascinating how the custom evolved if you ask me.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterksaldria

Hey! Are the Dutch going to ship ALL their juveniles to Spain... Now isn't that offensive?! (and dangerous for us Spaniards!) :b

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMar Calpena

It's very funny to see a cake from te supermarket I buy my groceries (never the cakes though ;)).

I am Dutch and I just need to say: Sinterklaas is in fact not Santa Claus. After december the 6th all Sinterklaas decorations are removed from the storewindows and Santa Claus (we call him Kerstman) flies in with his reindeer and Elves. So we have the whole Santa Claus madness around Christmas, just after the Sinterklaas weirdness :)

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Thank you to those who have pointed out that Bert the Chimney Sweep isn't referencing Sesame Street. You make me hopeful for humanity.

Jen - the not so subtle sarcasm which accompanies the reference is fantastic and makes me sad for all those people who didn't get it.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGenvissa

I'm Dutch and would like to set the record straight on some points.....
First of all, Santa Claus and Sinterklaas are two entirely different entities. Sinterklaas is a Spanish saint and his side kick Zwarte Piet is actually (according to stories) a Spanish chimneysweeper.
Second, the "bad" children are put into bags and taken back to Spain, I'm not sure where the hitting with sticks idea comes from.....
People here aren't offended by the make up and I'm truely puzzeled why others take so much offence. Some traditions should be put to sleep, but a tradition that doens't hurt anyone.... Hmmmm, seems a bit wierd to make such a fuss imo.
Ah well, maybe because I see this every year it isn't as big a deal to me as it is to others.
I do wish some people would be a little bit more open minded about these things, instead of yelling RACISM.... Funnily enough, usually Americans seem to take the most offence to this.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia B.

I'm not one of the earlier commenters about this only because I read the comments before jumping in, but...Whether Jen meant Bert the chimney sweep from Mary Poppins or not, that particular cake does look a lot like the muppet named Ernie. Makes the intended allusion difficult to discern. I'd have gotten it if there'd been a supercalafragalisticexpialidoucious or a reference to a spoonful of sugar.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKate K

Black Peter is black because of the relatively short tradition of devils being St Nick's "helper." "Helper" in that they are the ones who beat the children and/or bring them to hell.

If you're interested, check out Knecht Ruprecht and ESPECIALLY the KRAMPUS. The Krampus is a full-on devil, and was a beloved children's toy in Victorian Germany.

If you think this is offensive, remember that it was the Christmas Man, or Santa Claus or whatever pre-Nicholas deity) who used to have the duty of beating children. I believe the devils accompanying him were supposed to take the scary out of Santa.

For the record, I think Krampuses are just neat, and I think that the horror and squeaminshness is just American Lack of curiosity about the WHOLE WORLD OUT THERE outside our back doors.

Aren't people the least bit curious about how come we have a Santa Claus and Elves tradition? If we dig a little deeper, St Nicholas is not all She Wrote.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHellboundAlleee

You think this is creepy and racist? Look up the Dutch politician "Geert Wilders". While little children go out in the cold November weather and wait for hours at the harbour for Sint and Piet to show up, the freaky blond politician wants to get every non-Western human to get out of the country. Are the children racist for expecting a black guy from Spain to come to their town?

As a Dutch visitor I understand what you're trying to say, but in my childhood memories Zwarte Piet was just a nice guy who was handing out candy and toys and loved to make children happy.

Although, the melting muppet is horrible.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

After reading the "chocolate babies" story it sooo reminded me of almost the same experience!!!

I don't know if you still can, but you could buy these black licorice candy babies and one of my really old aunts gave me some and called them "negro" (she used a more politically incorrect term) babies. I was only 5 at the time and had no clue what that word meant, so I go to school with these candies and I tell my friends that "I'm eating ****** babies!" Boy was my teacher shocked and did my parents also have some explaining to do!!!

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I have lived in both Holland and Germany and I can tell you they are WAY more racist than in the US. On one hand, they would be high-and-mighty self-righteous about how bad the US was with its past Jim Crow laws, etc., but on the other hand they would come out with incredible stereotyping that you would never hear in the US. Their anti-racism is definitely of the "paternalistic" type. Even scientists and academics I talked to would privately give me all kinds of stereotypes.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Long time reader, first time commenter.

Being a swede, we have our own share of stereotype sweets (you might guess what chocolate balls used to be called when I grew up), not to mention a lot of branding on liquorice or the 'china puffs' rice snack. Some have stayed, some have gone but I think the important thing to remember here is that of course people have the right to be offended. The icons might not have come from outright racism, but they certainly come from the prejudiced notion that the world looked this way, with the benevolent white man helping the more primitive cultures. Both 'manifest destiny' and 'the white man's burden' ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_White_Man%27s_Burden ) were a part of that. Sure, things like that might seem very far from people's minds at the moment, but just look at what the press writes about Afghanistan in particular, and you'll realize it's not that different.

That being said, the way to deal with things like this is not to refrain from talking about them, it's pulling them out in the light, making fun of them and realize that they mean so different things to different people. Just because something is your cherished childhood memory doesn't mean it's not iffy to others without that context. That being said, I happily still eat my little ( http://konsum.files.wordpress.com/2007/11/kina.jpg ) snacks and try to focus on the far bigger and more important prejudice I see every day in real life. In my view the REALLY scary thing if is people stopped posting things like this for fear of offending someone. Just because it is pushed under the table doesn't mean it's not there.

Also, the cakes are truly wrecktastic.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrattsu

Hey Jen (and you too John!!),

Great post!

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenniffer

Since I'm Dutch I've grown up with Sinterklaas and Piet...
And so are my children...

Every year the arrival of Sinterklaas (het arrives on a steamship from Spain) is broadcasted live on national television. We even have a daily newsprogramm from the arrival to Dec 5 (about 3 weeks).

Everyday we can watch what Sint and all of the Piets are doing. Yes, all the Piets! There are hundreds! Amongst whom are a Head Piet, a House Piet and (my personal favorite) Sorry Piet.

And John (hubby of Jen) I doubt our 'president' will one day declare Zwarte Piet offensive. We don't have a president...

Instead we have a queen. And since our crown prince is married to an Argentinian woman (of the choclate covered faces fame) I doubt we will ever see the day...

(another fun Dutch tradition: Queen's Day)

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

To Anonoymous and Embarrassed and a couple others,

We posted these cakes today fully aware that some would be upset by them. But we also knew that there would be an open discussion on the message boards and that most of our awesome readers could handle this.

In my opinion, these truly are cake wrecks. They seem quite racist to me but I am American and I was trained to think that way. Our awesome Dutch readers have responded and many of them have incredibly fond memories of this tradition, going so far as to say that a black man playing the part would make them feel cheated since he needs to have a sooty face.

My point is that we brought up a touchy subject because sometimes it needs to be brought up. Ignoring racism doesn't make it go away.

Lastly, if you don't want to read Cake Wrecks anymore because of this, I understand. I really do. But it helps no one to shut yourself off from everything you find slightly offensive. Become part of the discussion and you might be the one who brings about change.

john

Anonymous 9:20,

Yeah whoops, sorry about that. The Netherlands have a queen. I should have known as my in-laws lived there for a bit.

On another note, you didn't actually read through all the comments, did you?! That's pretty cool.

john

Glad we've decided that American-bashing is much more productive than, say, discussion. I'm proud to be lumped in with all the freaked-out people here.

Oy.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMorgi

John: Seriously, the comments are by far the most interesting thing when it comes to this post. First time I've bothered to read the all, and even worse... wait for more *hangs head*

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterrattsu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbJpRLhaSqs

6 to 8 black men by David Sedaris- about this very phenomenon!

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

I'm Dutch, and I can truthfully say that as a child I never connected the beloved character of Black Pete with the skin colour of my black friends. Zwarte Piet was just Zwarte Piet - an iconic guy who just happened to have a black face, not a representation of real black people. (I even remember feeling slightly annoyed when the Pieten who visited my school had been painted a more 'realistic' dark brown rather than pitch black. That just didn't look like Black Pete at all.)

Please also bear in mind that our history - and, as a result, our racial tensions/sensitivities - is rather different than yours. What Europeans historically called Moors were actually Berbers and Arabs from North-Africa, who have ruled Spain and Portugal for centuries. Other parts of Europe have been part of the Ottoman Empire for a long time. In other words, 'black' people actually entered the European consciousness long before the onset of imperialism and slave trade - because they have actually ruled here and, for a large part, coexisted peacefully with the 'whites'.
This means that even a Black Pete whose cultural origin is 'Moorish', and came from either Turkey (where the historical bishop Nicholas of Myra lived) or Spain (where the mythical Sinterklaas is from), does not have anything to do with (sub-Saharan) African slaves, but rather with a misrepresentation of an Arab by people who only knew of these Moors by hearsay.

So, neither is Black Pete's origin a racist relic of slave trade, nor do today's kids feel that he represents the non-white races in any way.

Apart from all that, and I mean this as a serious question, what could be racist about the concept of Black Pete? (Sure, I can imagine that people feel offended by the caricatural way he's represented on the cakes, but that's a whole different matter, one that has to do with cake-decorating skills as much as with anything else.) What is racist about a black guy working for a white guy? Or about a black guy writing funny poems and handing out candy to kids? Black Pete is cool, funny, kids dress up like him and want to be him. Where is the racism?
And please don't react by sighing at my ignorance and saying 'She's so brainwashed by tradition, she can't even see it anymore'. It's a serious question. If you can convince me, good for you.

Oh, and people? We have a queen here, not a president.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHanna

You guys should really watch David Sedaris, he does something that has something to do with this! It's soooo funny!?! Also, see if you can get to youtube and watch 6-8 Black Men. If you liked that, you'll love 6 to 8 black men by David Sedaris. What a riot!

To Embarrassed: Get a clue. If Jen and John didn't bring this stuff up, it would still be going on. It's not like they're shouting "WHITE POWER" and telling everybody to go out and buy a Zwarte Piet doll to beat up. They're bringing to light something that not one of my Dutch friends had the guts to share with me, because they all knew how wrong this tradition was. With out this site, I wouldn't be able to ridicule my friends mercilessly about their heritage, so thank you John and Jen. Thank you.

B. Reijns...Holy freakin crap man.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNookleerman

Girl6; I have to say your example here is illogical and crystallized the whole issue for me:

"Most people would be horrified if cakes depicting caricatures of WWII concentration camp survivors [...] were made into a cake."

A more apt comparison would be someone seeing a Mexican Dia De Los Meurtos cake http://ny-image1.etsy.com/il_430xN.70318737.jpg" rel="nofollow">depicting a skeleton, and being outraged at how insensitive it was toward holocaust survivors - or for that matter, anorexics.

These cakes may remind you of something you find distasteful, but note well that they are not depictions of that.

It is in your head, and I'm unsympathetic.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBlackbeard

Oh, and I second the remark about Geert Wilders, the guy who wants to kick all Muslims out of the country and may well become our next Prime Minister*. Now there's some Dutch racism (OK, discrimination based on religion, technically, but it kind of overlaps) for y'all to decry...

______
* I still don't know what to do if that really happens - I'll most likely feel like emigrating, but it's probably better to join the resistance.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHanna

While I don't think they went about it in the right way, I do see some sense in the comments that say it's not really necessary to be offended by these cakes, or the tradition. If I'm not mistaken, Europeans don't really have the same history with "racist" imagery like we Americans do (things like the "mammy" character, bright lips on impossibly dark faces, etc.) Because they don't have that, it's almost silly for us to think that these images are "racist", intentionally or otherwise. We consider them to be racist because they look like racist ads and artwork from OUR past. But that is not part of this country's past. Therefore, it isn't racist. Tacky and strange, surely, but not racist.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I like that you get freaked out about posting something that folks might find racially offensive but you still feel the need to censor out the boobies. Oh how America sucks! We can see horrors and racism and death but NO boobs.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Oh for chrissakes. They're CAKES.

Cakes are not racist. People are racist.

Making a cake look like a black person is not a rascist act.

Not naking a such a cake because you are worried that some people would be offended by it is the worst form of patronisation.

ITS A CAKE!!!!

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCapability Bowes

Oh, and before I forget.

I didnt read any posts criticising the Leprechaun cakes for being racist against Irish people.

So apparently its not at all racist if the person/tradition depicted in cake is white. Only if they're black?

Riiiiiiight, its all much clearer now.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCapability Bowes

Hilarious post and an awesome reference to the greatest racist dragon of all times, Albi!
"Get off my tail, you'll get it drity!"

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteraem8770

Seems to me, the hero in this is Zwarte Piet. He rewards the good, punishes the wicked- and performs a valuable service by clearing the streets of the Netherlands free of naughty children and setting them loose in Spain.
Hooray Zwarte Piet!

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSkwerl

"Their Santa" looks like the Pope because he is a SAINT. Even Santa Claus was originally a Saint. St. Nick? Santa, Saint? Get it?

I think Americans need to quit bashing other countries' traditions, culture and history.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

OMGosh !
I am sitting here in disbelief...and I have a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach.

This is one post I won't be revisiting any time soon, (once was enough and brave of you to post, BTW)

I have a friend who was born and raised in Holland and I'm going to grill her a little on the background story on this tradition for sure !

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Everything in the Sedaris story everyone has posted is absolutely true - I heard the story and immediately asked my Dutch friend who confirmed every detail, right down to the trip to Spain in a sack. (interestingly enough, we were in Spain at the time of the conversation, so I had to ask her what she had done the previous year that was bad enough to get kidnapped by St. Nick). She even showed me some Svarte Piet candies called (I kid you not) "[n-word] kisses". Sometimes Europe is just to hard for me to figure out.

July 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMK

Well, I'm 100% Dutch and I get the way this whole Zwarte Piet thing may seem very weird to say the least, if not outright offensive to other countries. But then, don't most countries have their own tradition that foreigners frown upon? I do not believe this whole thing to be racist at all, never grew up thinking that black people were scary, child snatching crazies who worked as slaves for an old white guy with a beard. Believe me, when my parents were young this was very much the case, mostly because there weren't very many people of color (any color) living in the Netherland, so a black man was thought of as something of a storybook character. Nowadays Holland is a very multicultural country and children grow up believing that Zwarte Piet is the helper of Sinterklaas who happens to look all black because of the soot in the chimneys he goes down to deliver the presents. Yes, when this whole tradition started (many, many years ago, way before Santa was invented) it was quite a racist thing because of the ignorance of people (who had ofcourse never actually seen a black person) but it has evolved and like I said, kids here certainly don't grow up anymore associating Zwarte Piet with something to be scared of and really do not associate Zwarte Piet with actual black people.
But I do get that this is hard to understand for people who did not grow up with this.

Erm... anyway, I did love the post and those crappy cakes made me laugh really hard! Especially the melting muppet. Never thought Albert Heijn would sell such utter CRAP! Next december 5th I'm checking out the nearest AH supermarket to see if I can find another "beauty" like that.

BTW John; I don't think our Prime Minister (we don't have a president, we have prime minister and a queen!) reads Cakewrecks coz he's just too darn boring.

Oh, and believe you me, the whole Zwarte Piet thing (racist or not) is and always will be an issue here, but the thing is that most Dutch people feel it's an innocent childrens tradition (in nooooo way comparable to the Spanish traditions of bull fighting BTW). And yes, that also includes many Dutch people of color.

Oh, and last but not least, the white thing on the first cake is not his beard, it's a big fringy collar ;)

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