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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)

Fabulous!
The pink elephant cake would be perfect for the 'day after'.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca Welch

I'm really disappointed in that pirate (the one who's not lying down).
This was supposed to be an even match--sword against sword.
But Nooooo...we find out too late that he's packing --not one, but TWO-- pistols! The dead guy never had a chance.(They seldom do.)
Nevertheless, I'd like to give the other guy the opportunity to explain himself. After all, here he is with only ONE leg --and a peg leg to boot (or not to boot)-- and ONE eye, and both things are missing on the SAME side. Probably gave him a different perspective on things...why, anyone's depth perception can be skewed if you have one eye covered.
Aside from the really lovely, sparkly, and actually watery-looking sea, this is a very emotionally confusing case--I mean, CAKE.

=^-.-^=

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

Nice "42" comment! Impressive that you know the answer to life, the universe, and everything! :)

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjs

Those are supposed to be elephants? I thought they were pink slugs...

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPotential Serendipity

Hoo-boy. I feel like I just had a major sugar rush.

And again, I show my age: In the late 60s-early 70s, there was a cereal called Crispy Critters. As a special promotion, for a while the critters included pink elephants. And I'm now hearing that "Little pink elephants!" jingle running through my head.

I wonder who thought pink elephants in a cereal geared to kids was such a good idea.

But then, there are people who thought these cakes were a good idea.

I must confess I rather like the pirate cake, though.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScritzy

As a 13-year-old dancer, I have had at least one bad ballet cake in my time (all is forgiven, the bakery still makes the best brownies EVER), but nothing like the "my other half thought this cake was so ridiculous that it went somewhere else to find a better pastry to decorate" disaster. Ballet-loving little kids (and bakers who make cakes for them)- Just Say No! ;-)

P.S. Love the hitchhiker reference! I may be a frood who knows where her towel is, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to throw it over these cakes.

WV: barle- these cakes are so bizarre I can barle believe that the laws of the universe allow them to exist.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

jena the yarn harpy -

That is all sorts of awesome. I wonder if that would fit in with my cookbook section on "Cooking for Invalids".

We could have a delicious spread, with the tongue sandwiches and crock pot squirrel/rabbit and a disastrous CCC or any other wreck.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteraufdeutsch

Betty has a new pair of legs everyday!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

WV: ressess... I finishedes the bottle *hick* and saw the ressess of the elephantses on parades of pirates....

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterjust me

My grandmother had that book. I remeber us making some of the designs from it when I was small. Thanks for the memories of her.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Culpepper

I thoroughly enjoyed the pirate who needed to equip himself with 2 pistols and a rapier to unbury treasure with ONE crewmate.

So many choices....

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbodoba

I laughed so hard at these vintage wrecks that I snorted and subsequently hurt myself.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

I wonder if they serve these cakes at the restaurant at the end of the universe? I hear the food there is pretty good........just remember your towel.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDouble N

just sent in some new photos of a pink elephant cake.... truly awful! i think an even worse example than that one...

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterunmatched_fabulous

What's sad here--and I think that Betty Ballerina would concur--is that, while there are new tutus and sets of legs to afford Ms. Topper a change for every blessed day of the week--they all look the SAME.
Wouldn't a little VARIETY have been nice? Come on!
Look at her face! That expression says only ONE thing, and it's this:
*SIGH* "I coulda BEEN somebody...I coulda been a CONTENDER...I coulda been a BARBIE!"

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

What's the pirate cake celebrating? "Congratulations on Murdering your Shipmates!" ?

I have to say though that the poodle is actually kinda cute.

Those photos remind me of a great book with old Weight Watchers recipe card photos. It's called "The Amazing Mackerel Pudding Plan"

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRed Wolf

OMG, Jen! You said:

'but an historic find......'

No wait, it should read:

'but AN historic find.......'

You and I are the only literate people left in the literate world who understand that 'h' is a vowel and thus takes an 'an' not an 'a'!

I am pleased all out of proportion by this joyous discovery!

And to think - I'm going to actually MEET YOU next month in Orlando! I can't wait.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpambamboo

These remind me of some examples from when my Mom took a cake decorating class in the 80's.
Thank you so much for your blog! I get an ab workout each time I tune in from laughing so much. Keep up the good work.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCheri

Love the second one. So cute. =d

Summer
http://www.soloden.com/" rel="nofollow">A Writers Den
http://www.julesmariano.com/" rel="nofollow">The Brown Mestizo

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSummer

42!!! My favorite books! As if I didn't love you already...

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJen

when i was about 5 (which would have been early 60's) my mom took a cake decorating class, and i remember those fat, pink frosting elephants! it must have been the trend then. they may look scary now, but as a 5 year old,i loved EATING the frosting creations she brought home on paper plates . . .

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJewelielyn

Oh man, these were all so good I can't even pick a favorite!

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpeewee

Wow, not one but TWO libraries in Seattle have this book? I think I need to request an interlibrary loan...

I, too, thought of Hefalumps from Whinnie the Pooh, not Dumbo, when I saw the pink elephants.

Love, love, love the pirate cake. True talent went into that one.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentertheladyjess

The poodle matches the crochet covers for toilet paper of the same era.

And did anyone else think "orgy" when they saw the pink elephant cake?

Anyone?
Anyone?
Bueller?

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Well, just when I think you've already done the perfect post, you do another.

Loved this.

Rebecca.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca F.

OK, so I think the poodle cake is actually kinda' cute, but then,I'm a dog person. And I love icing. :-) It would be a great cake to take to one of the dog club meetings.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDonkaloosa

omg, effing, effing hilarious. even in the 60s, who could think murdering a harem girl was a good idea for a cake decoration? yikes.

and call me weird, but I want a bisected ballerina cake! there's something cool about it.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEtiquette Bitch

That was delivered perfectly: you started with the poodle cover, which is totally breathtaking. I assumed it would be the pinnacle of the post...but no. Sweet holy moses, that pirate cake is wrong in any era.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

roflse thiz 4 a cliente don worie~

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermizz peachez

not 1960s...copyright 1972. wow.

wv: samar, as in, "show me samar of these hideous wrecks!"

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I don't consider these to be proto-wrecks at all. Seriously. This is retro-chic I can live with and appreciate. Mullets and recycled 70s fashions (including mutton-chops and porn-star 'staches) I cannot tolerate. This kinda retro is just-plain cool.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMetalNoir

Not wrecks.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

If you like this blog post, you may enjoy the Gallery of Regrettable Foods over at www.lileks.com.

All food from the 40s-70s was slighty suspect, I think.

(wv: hypess-- like Jen, regarding her book?)

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterkingmonkey

Pambamboo wrote: You and I are the only literate people left in the literate world who understand that 'h' is a vowel and thus takes an 'an' not an 'a'!

Sorry Pam, but "h" is NOT a vowel. The rules for using "a" or "an" are based on the SOUND of the first letter of the word (vowel or consonant) not the actually written word.

So some words could go either way - "an honorable man" and "a horse in the field" are both correct.

And based on that I think it should be "a historic event".

Let's ask the pink elephants, okay?

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

I think the pink elephants refer back to Dumbo, not Fantasia - seeing as the title of the cake is "Smashed Pink Elephant cake." Smashed meaning drunk, no?

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDea

Hm, I never noticed how phallic a champagne bottle top looked until i saw that picture and the first thing that popped into my head was "what are those things hanging on that... its that a... no, it can't be... wtf? Ohhhhh its a BOTTLE...ok..."

So confused. I don't know if thats really a criticism of the cake or my own dirty, confused mind.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

ROFL! A cake with a dead pirate on it! How perfectly awful!

*sigh* After I saw the Pink Elephant cake, the Pink Elephant song is now stuck in my head...

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

Aside from the elephant one, i'm actually impressed with them. i think for that time, he did some awesome stuff. someone posted earlier that they were pioneers, and they did stuff with buttercream that most people didn't know they could do. they encouraged others to take on cake decorating, and now look at cake decorating today. yes, there's lots of wrecks, but there's lots of greats too.

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteraprilbree

Thanks so much. I will now be forced to replicate the bleeding murdered pirate cake for my son!

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMJS

I want the poodle cake for my next birthday, its totally 1950s kitsch!

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdarkshines

That pink elephant cake - it's like Dumbo meets Dali. It's Dumbali.

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngie Jackson

Maybe it's covered elsewhere in the book, but it cracks me up that the step by step instructions go through body-arm-leg in detail, but lumps head-face-hair-hands-feet in one easy step at the end.

One of my old Wilton yearbooks has a pink elephant cake. I made it when my younger brother turned 18 (the wilton version was a new years cake). I love pink elephant cakes.

August 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

My mom went to cake decorating school in the 70's and decorated cakes as a side job. I know she had this book. If I dig up more from this era, I'll pass them along. She actually made the pink elephant cake for a friend's party and I loved it. I begged to have it for my own birthday but she refused. Can't imagine why.

My mom... an original wrecky. Go figure..

August 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I actually like the pirate cake a lot. Aside from the pirate figures, the buttercream work is good, and I was impressed with the boat, water, skeleton, and palm trees. I'm also a fan of the border, personally - it matches the cake well.

August 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLiana Engie

OMG! I used to have this book as a kid! I found it at the dump I think and liked it because I used to play with modeling clay and could emulate the figures. Wow, nostalgia can really knock you on your butt sometimes.

August 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterZoinks

Um, is that 2nd cake pink elephants? I cant tell what their are because I cant tell their heads from their bums!

August 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBreeanna "Ducky" Menendez

You know what's really funny? Those chubby pink elephants look just like the chubby blue elephants that were on my cake for my first birthday in 1979... I had no idea they were originally drunk. :D

August 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephenson!

Wow! I think I just found out where the inspiration for my New Year's cake came from! Haha!

August 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

My mom had that book! She had a cake decorating business in the 70s and 80s and, while she never committed any of the horrors seen here, I remember distinctly looking through it. I never saw anything wrong with any of those cakes. It explains a lot now...

September 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My mom was a home ec teacher and I remember this book so well from when I was a kid.. I thought all the cakes were just the coolest thing since ... oh I don't know royal icing?? Funny how I thoughts change with age and time..

October 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

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