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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
Thursday
Aug062009

Old Time Wreck 'n Roll

For decades now mankind has been left to wonder: Just where did the first Cake Wreck come from? We may never have the definitive answer (outside of "42", of course) but an historic find has recently been unearthed in the area of Gilbert, Arizona, that may shed some light on this weighty issue.

I give you, Magic in Frosting!

Breathtaking, isn't it? This artifact, discovered by Luz G. of Beautiful Impermanence, is believed to date back to the "free love" era of the 1960s, when the word "magic" was interchangeable with the names of many and varied forms of hallucinogenic drugs. Coincidence?

I think not.

Especially when you consider that the author claims to be the original creator of the Smashed Pink Elephant cake here. [arching eyebrow] Highly suspicious.

Regardless, this priceless find demonstrates some truly remarkable feats that our ancestors were able to achieve using nothing more than buttercream, a few simple tools, and the belief that any woman who plays tennis is a low-browed neanderthal with a thyroid problem.

Further evidence of the decade's inebriation includes this lovely (not to mention leggy) specimen:

The "Merry-Go-Round of Bisected Ballerinas" was a popular party motif during the summer of '67.

And lastly, here's a delightful reminder of simpler times - when the hair was long, the skirts were short, and first-degree murder was a "groovy" party theme:

(Note the smoking gun and perfectly-piped pool of blood. Such accuracy! Such talent!)

So, where do modern-day Wrecks come from? Well, in light of these examples I believe there can be only one conclusion: they're made by the people who got these cakes as children.


- Related Wreckage: LIFE Wrecks

« Here comes the bri...AAAAUUGGHHH!!! | Main | Rooby Dooby DOOO!!! »

Reader Comments (203)

I was going to mention awful library books but Katcal beat me to it.
I'm really tempted to make the pirate cake, but substitute a ninja for the dead pirate.
And Spyderqueen, I'm so happy you mentioned September 19th! I celebrate Talk like a Pirate Day every year!
WV: extersh: that is an extershiating amount of icing!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

Ahem... those two elephants on the wine bottle look like they're.... *cough* too much fun with the bottle, if you know what I mean.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachael

These are hilarious!!!

I am a little lost on the "42" reference, but I see from other comments that it's a Hitchhiker's Guide reference. Which explains why I'm lost.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

The poodle cake reminds me of the knitted booze bottle toppers my mom used to have in the 60's.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDee

Where can I buy this book???

It will have to do as a cakewrecks book substitute until the real one comes out

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

See, now I didn't see a ballerina - I saw synchronized swimmers and this was the pool view.

I guess I've seen too many Ethel Merman movies.

Love the pink elephants - very triptastic, but well done.

wv: wrisepro
It is a wrisepro who can handle that much buttercream on one cake.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterlisadh

omg these are just frikkin awesome!! i'm not the nostalgic type but i've got to say these oldies are just the best!!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermimi

That ballerina looks like she is about to vomit.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBead Up

They still have a pink elephant cake exactly like that at the Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax in Los Angeles! I live right next to it, and every time I pass the cake, I think about sending it into Cake Wrecks. Too late I guess!

Here is a picture by someone who actually thought to take one:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotomom/357939343/

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMandy

Hurray for the reference to Hitchhiker's!
The pink elephant cake is distubring.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Today we acknowledge alcohol abuse and its accompanying brain and liver damage with interventions and counseling. We used to celebrate it with cake! How did we lose our way?

As for the pirate cake, the first thing that popped into my head was a quote from Jack Nicholson as the joker in Batman: "Ah! Now that's good work! The skulls... the bodies... you give it all such a glow! I don't know if it's art, but I like it!"

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Gods of teh interwebz, they do smileth upon me! It's as if two of my big lurves on the net--Cake Wrecks and The Gallery of Regrettable Food--had a love child made of pixels...

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJustAGirl

I must retract my previous statement in the face of photographic evidence that we still celebrate the DTs with cake. Yea!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

"So, where do modern-day Wrecks come from? Well, in light of these examples I believe there can be only one conclusion: they're made by the people who got these cakes as children."

As someone who once received a Pilgrim Barbie Doll Cake (gray frosting and little paper cap) for her birthday, I think you have a point.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

According to the WorldCat database, 49 libraries still own this precious volume, including the Anchorage, LA, San Diego, Louisville, Cleveland and Seattle Public Libraries. Jen, have you been reading http://awfullibrarybooks.wordpress.com/ ?

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMJS

Important to note (both in this scenario, in which the pink elephants are atop a bottle of booze, and in the Disney film in which Dumbo has a drunken freak-out after accidentally consuming champagne) that pink elephants are associated with Delerium Tremens, an acute delirium that is usually caused by severe withdrawal from alcohol.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbaby jane

pink elephants made me think of "heffalumps"
"They're in they're out, they're up they're down, they're all around.....Beware Beware."

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChrista

I think this is my most favorite post you've ever done. Ever. I totally want that book!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBec

I think the pirate cake is cool but I would never give it to a kid unless that's what he or she asked for.

Betty the Ballerina looks terrified to be on top of her cake.

The other ones are something out of nightmares.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBree

I have to admit that somewhere in my past, my mom has purchased said Pink Elephant cake. It was odd that that memory came back clear as day when I saw your picture posted here.

Ours were all hanging out of plastic wine glasses and over mini bottles of champagne.

Now I have to call my mom and ask for what occasion did we purchase those cakes for?

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHeart2Heart

Wilton, how far you've come! Ha ha!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertwocans1

there are just no words to describe these atrocities.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJust Me,Pilgrim

...the water looks amazing in that last cake. Shame about.. y'know.. the rest of it.

Actually I would still be pretty excited to get that cake for my birthday. there's a dead dude on it! and a pirate ship! what! AWESOME.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJules
August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVal

OH MAN the pirate cake also has a SKELLINGTON

It is my favourite forever and ever amen. if I don't have that for my birthday next year I will be deeply disappointed.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJules

I actually like the pirate cake. The detail is very good. You can get a sense of the movement of the surf and the water and the ship is great too. WHat's a little spilled blood when the picture is so great!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterReg

wow, so funny! the pirate ship is mighty fine though

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLittle Lovables

OMG--I love the pink elephants! I think I might try something like that for my friend's b-day next year. Don't forget--even if no one wants to eat the cake there is a bonus bottle of champagne under there!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStaceyM

i'm not sure if it's just because i'm incredibly tired today, but it took me a full 8 minutes of staring at that pink pile of goo to pick out the "elephants" (i know i know...you said right below the picture that they were elephants. unfortunately, all that did was tell me what to look for, not distinguish how the crap there were elephants on that cake).

To my delight, I noticed a bottle of alcohol underneath them in about minute 7. Empty, perhaps? Consumed in one short sitting by the decorator perhaps? I think so.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterashleyalvina

My mom had this book when I was a kid. Probably still does! I remember how crazy it all looked then - especially the cut in half ballerina!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

Some of the old "cook books" are a source of wreckage all their own - http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/partycake/index.html

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMarion's Mom

I actually think that the poodle is really cute. :D

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKira

Yuck. I can't imagine eating a butter-creme poodle!

And that ballerina cake, I really kind of like..in a groovy sort of way. LOL

~Amy B.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

I totally remember this book as a child. My mom had it in her book collection. I remember how cool I though it all was when I was little. What magic icing could create....
Now I look at it and wonder what Adults were thinking when putting together the book.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Oh. my. Word.

For the record, that book is copyright 1972.

It is available near me at the Los Angeles Public Library Central Library RARE BOOKS COLLECTION, and I have to make an APPOINTMENT to see it. Wow. I wonder why they call it rare... they have 2 copies!

That being said, the themes are wrecktastic, but the details are frequently good. The color choices are unfortunate. Some of them would still be good for kids, like the poodle. I've never seen figure piping done well, but these come close to good.

Take about 90 of those elephants off the cake, it'd be better. That pirate cake is awesome!!! The detail on the water, the ship, and the palm tree can give me something to work with! The rest, well... but rework with the pirate standing over a treasure chest and minus the corpse, it could be workable!

I love the HGttG reference! 42, indeed!

WV: dignesse - "What, you ain't dignesse?" (digging these?)

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

I made Pink Elephant cakes when I worked at Thees Bakery at Farmer's Market in LA in the 80's...I was super hung over one day, used old icing & made drippy hardly recognizable Pink Elephants with the Boiled Icing, for John Ritter. I still feel bad about that....

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCake Destroyer

Love the HHG reference!! I actually think the pink elephants are kind of cute too. But wow, the Obama cake that Jedi Knight Ivyan gave the link for....wrecktastic.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

42! :D

This reminds me of a 1950s-era Betty Crocker kids' cookbook my mom shared with me. In the baking section was a particularly psychedelic zoo animal cake (the colors, the colors!). The animals were constructed from cookies and crackers painted with RAW EGG tinted with food coloring.

Some salmonella with your slice, anyone?

P.S. Now that you've got me geeking...Sunday Sweet idea! Surely there are Cthulhu/Elder God/Lovecraftian cakes out there, waiting, dreaming to be posted?

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

I love the step-by-step instructions for the neanderthal tennis players:
(top row) 1. Start with a white blob for left leg; 2. Add a white blob for the right leg; 3. Add a bigger white blob for torso; 4. Make little white blobs for sleeves and collar; 5. Add a little pink blob for left bicep; 6. Add the rest of the left arm, the right arm, both legs, shoes, neck, head, hair, face (remember the eyebrows), ears, and a tennis racket.
Voila! Six easy steps to a perfect tennis playing neanderthal!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDonna B.

For those who enjoyed Jen's post today, please also take a look at The Institute of Official Cheer site. Love their Meat! Meat! Meat! section, but the cake link is funny too: http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/partycake/index.html

As always today's wreckage has given me much to chuckle about. I especially love the pink elephants!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterredraven

Gotta say, the coiled rope border on the pirate cake is awesome!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJust A Midwife

Is the Bisected Ballerina Cake supposed to provide an optical illusion if you view it from the side? With the one top in the center and the legs all around the sides, maybe you're supposed to see an entire dancer from anywhere at the table--if you're short.

The Deformed Poodle Cake is really a shame. As a confirmed buttercream lover, I immediately thought of cutting a chunk from a well-done poodle cake and dragging my finger through those luscious buttercream curls before plunging my fork into the center. MMMM. The one on the book cover is just sad.

Word Verification: undsh--the noise made by somebody who is desperately trying to stifle their initial reaction when they discover that one of the horrors featured in this post is the centerpiece of their surprise party.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I own this book! I love it. It really is a great reference for all kinds of figure piping. Back in the day, it was all buttercream, baby, all the time. (Which is not to say that bisected ballerinas were ever a good idea.)

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The commentary on these cakes made me laugh so hard...in spite of the gruesome theme, that Pirate cake is pretty well done !

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Awww...these are sweet and old-school. I saw Roland Winbeckler on Food Network Challenge the other day and it made me kind of sad because you can't judge this stuff next to the perfect, fondant-smothered cakes of today. Fondant work is beautiful but I have never found it to be tasty. Frosting, on the other hand....yum.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfreisss

OMG! My grandmother got me an elephant cake like that for my 21st birthday in 19mumblegrumble.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLinnee

NB taylors older brother the question is just" whats the answer to life the universe and everything?"
after millenia they find out 42 and get a computer (earth) built and just as a girl in a cafe realises the answer to life the universe and everything .The earth is blasted to make way for the space highway.....

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdiddleymaz

I think you may be on to something with the "wrecks recieved as children lead to wrecks created as adults". I'm pretty sure that the lucky child who recieved the pink elephant cake on that fateful birthday went on, in their esteemed adulthood, to create http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_wGr8njEWjtI/SaiMXf4_LyI/AAAAAAAACE0/5pGciv4IT3c/s1600-h/Andrew+C.jpg" rel="nofollow">this cake.

It must be true what they say, a Wreckerator never forgets!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSecrett K

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