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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
Apr012010

Pastry Pranks

Far be it from me to try and fool you guys on April Fool's Day. Hey, when Mensa names you one of their top 50 sites of 2010 [Note: Woohoo!] you know your readers are far too clever for those kinds of shenanigans.

Besides, today is also my brother Ben's birthday, and I've just realized that in all these years my family has never pulled a cake prank on him. This must be remedied. So, let's look at some trick "cake" contenders.

First is something I featured a long time ago: the "sandwich loaf."

(Go here for more "fun" "food" - and the recipe!)

First this cruel creation tricks you into thinking luscious buttercream and layer cake is on the menu. Then - WHAMMO! - you've got a pimento-flecked mixture of salmon, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and sour cream tickling your taste buds gag reflex.

[Mercifully the sandwich loaf passed out of favor over thirty years ago, but there are still places making them today if you're looking for a way to make your friends and family hate you.]

Moving on to something slightly more edible, how about a frosted roll of toilet paper?

(What? I did say "slightly.")

Locusflower made this classic cake prank for a manager who was leaving. Here's the end result of the toilet paper cake:

Tadaa!
So perfect, and yet so cruel. Heheh.

On the less cruel and more cool side, check out what WhisperAWish made for her kid's lunch today:

Those "cupcakes" are made of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and the "grilled cheese sandwiches" are pound cake with icing. Love it!

Plus, look how realistic the sandwich can be when you toast the pound cake:

Source (with instructions)

With this kind of food doppelgangery, I have to say I'd rather expect something else and be surprised by cake than the other way around. But then, when it comes to food, I pretty much prefer cake over everything. [personal motto: "Cake: Not Just For Breakfast Anymore."]

For those of you who don't mind the occasional meat cake, though, here's a clever one by CW reader Maayan Z:


Ever since the Black Widow Bakery first kicked off the craze, I've seen a lot of meat cakes. This one, however, raises the bar with those cheese decorations. Of course, I have to condemn the very existence of this cake on principle alone, but other than that - nice job, Maayan!

Getting back to the tricks, though, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the classic balloon cake prank. The concept is simple: carve out a cavity in your cake, place an inflated balloon in it, and ice over the whole thing. When the victim goes to cut the cake, POP!

Variation include filling the balloon with whipped cream (big mess) or water like in the video above (even bigger mess). I've also seen "cakes" made of everything from upholstery foam to kitchen sponges, which results in some small hilarity when the victim tries to cut through it.

So, what do you think, Wreckies? Which one should my brother be looking out for? [wicked grin] Or, tell me the best cake prank you've seen in the comments - I like options. (Just no overly cruel ones, please; I've seen the wedding vids with the bride near tears - not cool.)


Oh, and Ben? Happy birthday, big brother! Let's get together real soon. ;)

- Related Wreckage: "Cake" Cruelty

« Lamb Fleeces | Main | Rabbit Food »

Reader Comments (175)

A friend of mine put a "marital aid" in a cake that she iced for another friend's 50th birthday.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArtypie

My favorite food prank involves little powdered sugar donuts. Scrape all the sugar off and replace with baking soda. Pile on a plate, or put them back in the box and serve. If you've never bitten into a baking soda covered donut, try in, you won't forget the sensation any time soon. You can't swallow, you can chew, you can't spit. Kind of funny.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMierins Family

Here's a fun variation that I've used for friends who are dieting or otherwise not eating "real" cake.

https://www.800florals.com/order.asp?item=TW313

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Today is my son's 16th birthday!
Amazingly, he has~~at such a tender age, at that~~already done it all; there's nothing left to learn..!!..time to go RULE the WORLD.
(Have a nice trip! See you next Fall...!)

=^~.-^= Seriously, folks, this kid is an alien spawn. Cake's okay with him...but JUST okay. Take it or leave it-ish about it.
His thing is cheesecake--which isn't cake at all.
I have no point, here.
Just making small talk....trying to avoid being too obvious about not understanding the *concept* of frosting an actual roll of toilet paper.
Gosh, they should have at LEAST taken the wrapper off first.
Who KNOWS how many people might have touched it while it was on the store shelf? Not very sanitary, that.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

Our neighbor loved pranks, and giving lots of Christmas gifts to her friends. Over thirty years ago, she gave my mother a huge box with a "cake" of dried cow poop. Not to be outdone, my mother saved it for a year, coated it with chocolate, then wrapped it and gave it back to her.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Talia is my hero!

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermsubulldog

Not actually a "cake" but yes, we've used food as a trick. My mother made a Dirt Cake and used a flower pot as the container. She stuck a silk plant into it and VIOLA - a centerpiece. My husband (highschool sweetheart at the time) had never had never heard of a dirt cake, and certainly couldn't figure out the reason for the silk plant in the potting soil. I just shrugged my shoulders at the sight, as not to lead onto the joke. So you can imagine his surprise when I grabbed a spoon and took a huge bite of what he thought was potting soil. He jumps up from the table, runs to the living room, and drops to his knees. I take some of the "soil" with me to check on him, drop some of the crumbled cookies into his gaping mouth. Gargle, spit, patooie... wait... was that an Oreo? It has been over a decade and we still can't quit laughing about that one. -Andi-

Not a cake, and more of an unintentional prank, but:

My father once made french toast for my brother and his friends after a sleepover, but he used garlic bread. The boys eagerly received their plates, slathered the french toast in butter and syrup, and dug in... and half of them tried to politely cover their surprise, while the other half openly gagged in shock.

It wasn't until Dad tried it himself that he realized his mistake.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

For my 18th birthday, my 'friends' and I went to a restaurant. At the end of our meal, the wait staff came out singing to me with a plate with a beautiful brownie on it covered in whipped cream and a cherry. I went to cut into it and it felt a bit stale. After a while, I gave up cutting it. My 'friends' started laughing at me. Apparently, they had given the wait staff a candle that looked like a brownie with whipped creme on it and a cherry (with the wick coming out of the cherry...i should have noticed). The restaurant added some more whipped creme to the borders of the plate for effect. Of course, the restaurant felt so bad for me, they gave me an actual piece of (really good) cake for free! I did NOT share any with my friends. : )

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

What makes me want to cry is the thought of all that perfectly delicious frosting going to waste. Sure, it's a funny joke to frost a balloon, TP roll, etc....but think of the frosting, people! Think of the frosting!! *weep*

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

I was at my second cousin's wedding a couple of years ago, and was seated in front the most adorable older couple (like, in their 80s older). I'm pretty young and a big cook, and I like making everything from scratch. This really, really excites sweet little old ladies from the NC mountains. Anyway, we got to talking, and the subject of the worst dish we'd ever made came up. The wife said something like "well, I don't think I've ever made something so bad we couldn't eat it." Her husband responded quickly with "well, there was the sauerkraut cake," as he turned sorta green.

The recipe is in the church cookbook my grandma gave me for my 21st birthday. It's a chocolate cake made with kraut as the "secret ingredient." I think it's supposed to make it moist or something. I love chocolate cake and I double love kraut...just not together. Ever. Urp.

WV: millia-I wouldn't eat sauerkraut cake for a millia dollars.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhalfbakedcake

The best one I've seen wasn't actually a prank.

When I was a kid, my family ate very little sugar. We always went for the sugar free ice cream and the whole wheat bread, etc, etc.

So for my mother's birthday one year, my grandmother (a wonderful cake decorator by hobby) disguised a wheel of cheese as a birthday cake.

She had covered the wrapped wheel in plastic wrap and decorated it with chocolate frosting. It was beautiful! And completely sugar, and cake, free.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

I laughed when I saw the loaf. My family is still making them. Crazy mayo loafs for every occasion, whether it´s a wedding, birthday or a funeral. Where I come from it´s called Braudterta or Bread Tart. I have a friend that hosts a loaf contest every year. It´s very ambitious in an ironic kind of way. Enough ranting, I really like your website. It combines my favorites: Cakes and humor. Keep up the good work. Lóa, Iceland.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterodi hattarinn

My Aunt used to make a foam -rubber cake. It was so funny. It is impossible to cut with a cake knife.
BTW..WV was travi..reminded me of travesty.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoubleN

A friend of mine made my wedding cake, lovely 3 layer red velvet cake with butter-cream frosting and strawberry filling...he just forgot that he had layers of cardboard separating the top layer of cake from the rest. When I went to cut the cake I couldn't figure out why it wouldn't cut (I thought it was frozen at first). When we finally realized that there was cardboard there, my friend was very apologetic...it was rather funny and he's lucky I'm such a good sport. :)

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

My mother, who is a great cook and did a lot of the food for my reception, insisted upon making and serving sandwich loaves or ribbon sandwiches as she called them. I could not talk her out of it!! The rest of the food was fantastic.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAZAlgers

oh my that sandwich loaf(shivers)i remeber my mom making that for special occasions......and yes it tasted as bad as it sounds.....thanks? for the memories
ibdeequeenuc

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercheri

My mother in law once made a meat cake for my brother in law. He was teased by us for liking Spam so dear M-I-L stacked several Spam blocks together and frosted the whole thing. She even put his candles in the cake o' nastiness. It was quite the sight and smell. He didn't figure it out untill he cut the cake. She then brought out his real cake which was delish!

Now this one wasn't a prank but still a funny story. My husband and I got married April 2 many many years ago. Dear M-I-L made our cake and it was beautiful. It was a stacked cake and it had a staircase that wrapped the cake dripping with hand made sugar flowers and beautiful mini hand dipped candles. Half way through our reception, I looked over to see the side of my cake go up in flames. All we could do was laugh. It was quickly extinguished and poor M-I-L was horrified. I think it was the most memorable wedding cake ever. And boy was it yummy!

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeckie

The best one I ever saw was for an "Over the Hill" birthday. My friend iced an upside down sheet cake pan. When the birthday girl tried to cut the cake, she couldn't, but she thought it was just from the tears of joy/surprise due to the surprise party. It was hilarious.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJess

Cake for breakfast. Made sense to Bill Cosby!
Bill Cosby: [when his wife sees that he has given the kids cake for breakfast] I've always heard about people having a conniption but I've never seen one. You don't want to see 'em. My wife's face... split. My wife's face split, and the skin and hair split and came off of her face so that there was nothing except the skull. And orange light came out of her hair and there was glitter all around. And fire shot from her eye sockets and began to burn my stomach and she said, "WHERE DID THEY GET CHOCOLATE CAKE FROM?" And I said, "They asked for it!" And the children who had been singing praises to me... LIED on me and said, "Uh-uh! We asked for eggs and milk... AND DAD MADE US EAT THIS!" And my wife sent me to my room... which is where I wanted to go in the first place.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjillb-ilslp

Candace said: I seriously made a cake once that turned out more like a prank cake. It was back in the '80s, and I was trying to make things "healthy", so was trying to avoid white flour, white sugar, etc. Well, our family has a tradition of decorated cakes for birthdays, so I was struggling with how to make frosting without powdered sugar, and I came up with the idea of using corn starch (the same consistency as powdered sugar) and honey. The cake looked beautiful, but none of us could eat the corn starch-based frosting. My siblings still kid me about that one.

April 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Like someone else said above, there's a Swedish dish called smörgastårta, which basically means "sandwich cake", it's bread layered with mayo, tuna, leek, cucumber, dill, and cream, topped with shrimp, usually rather flat and square-shaped, though.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnnamatopoetry

@ halfbakedcake

I have actually had chocolate sauerkraut cake...before I knew there was sauerkraut in it...I worked at a historic village, and this was cooked in cast iron over an open fire, by one of the best historical cooks ever. she wouldn't tell me what the secret ingredient was for a week...
believe it or not, it's really good if done right...(and trust me, i've had it both ways)

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkristina

My best friend once received a birthday cake from her house full of roommates. I'm not sure how they did it, but I think what happened was they made two layers and iced them at the last minute, right after sticking a vibrator - switched on - between the layers. Her MSN name for months afterward was "New-found fear of birthday cakes".

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlison

My aunt entered into a cake baking contest once under the name "Connie Crete." :)

Try as they might, the judges couldn't even cut out a slice to try.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I loved that toilet paper cake! How I wish I could have done that to my ex supervisor before I left my job to get married.. she would so have deserved it lol. As for the meat cakes who was cruel enough to come up with those?? They do make great prank cakes just not something I would ever want to eat.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArlene

I agree with my fellow Scandinavians - sandwich 'cake' can be absolutely delicious, it's not that weird :). But as many pointed out, it's always very clear that they're not sweet. Unless some wrecker covers their cakes with tomatoes, ham/salmon etc...

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRiina

Sandwish loaf is EVIL, it's dark lord of the Sith EVIL! Yes, I've had it, it's much worse when you're 5 & expecting cake.

LOL! Toilet paper cake,love that.

The "grilled cheese" & meatloaf is very cool & so is the meatcake.

LMAO! That balloon trick reminded me of the cake the Little Rascals made when they made the surprise cake.

Stymies Surprise Cake
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i41mQr2IJ_Y

unfortunately I can't find the clip where the kids eat the cake & get their surprises.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCan't See Sheep

Oh, Jen, I'm so sorry! When you mentioned Mensa, I thought it was an April Fool's prank or a Rickroll. But you guys actually were voted one of the top 50 sites. Congratulations! (I think I'm only the second person to even mention it.)

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The sandwich cake is an extremely popular and typical dish found in all Estonia. The fish sandwich cake is the most common! It's delicious. However it doesn't usually come with flowers on the top - anyone know where the one pictured comes from?

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My boyfriend works for Bed Bath & Beyond, so he comes across all the "as seen on tv" gadgets that people buy and NEVER use.

One of those was the Bake & Fill. It's a cake pan that lets you make a layered cake, or a hollow outside cake with a well to fill with custard, ice cream, jelly, ect.

He bought one with the sole desire of making his best friend a birthday cake. "What are we going to put in it?" I ask.

He looks at me and, as though it wasn't even valid question, answers, "beefaroni".

"Just think, he'll cut into it thinking he's just getting a boring old cake, but inside will be delicious, steaming beefaroni." he says.

To this day, "beefaroni" sends me into hysterics.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThis Real Girl

May I recommend the following site? It's the one your site, Jen and John, reminded me of, when I first came here.

http://www.lileks.com/institute/gallery/

If any of my fellow Wreckies go to have a read, might I suggest you sit on a towel first?

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermorriganscrow

I haven't seen this one in the comments yet: the Christmas log made out of an actual log, beautifully frosted. My grandfather had one made by a professional baker friend as a joke for a fundraiser raffle. The prank turned a little sour when the guy who won (who would've gotten the joke) gave the log to his SIL, who needed a fancy dessert for a reception. I'm not sure she ever believed her BIL didn't know it was wood. My grandfather still thought it was funny, though, decades later.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I have a friend who made me one of those sandwich loaves for my bridal shower. Only hers was pretty, and had a lovely shrimp salad for the filling. Delicious! She also made "sushi" for a party using angel food cake & dried fruit.

And I LOVE the meatloaf cupcakes/pound cake sandwiches.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan T-O

As a fellow April Fool's baby, I say your brother is exempt from any pranks on his birthday.
However, those of us lucky enough to celebrate an April 1st birthday don't have to play nice with our pranks...no matter how cruel, no one can get mad at you on your birthday!

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmbry

I think WhisperAWish's switcheroo would be perfect. I would be delighted to be on the receiving end of that one.

Sandwich cakes are still popular in Finland. More than one of my friends has been fooled at a cafe when they ordered a slice of what they thought was a sweet cake, only to be greeted by liver mousse instead of chocolate mousse when they take the first bite.

WV: depno - a nonprofit organization opposed to 80s hair gel.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjackie31337

heh, one that was an accident-- me mum has a habit of moving things around in the kitchen every so often, so one time when I was over an helping with the desert, she asked me to fix up the whipped cream. I do believe someone mentioned how closely powdered sugar resembles corn starch, particularly when they've been put in the container you're expecting the former to be in. Luckily the mistake was caught before it went out to our guests!

I love the "cheese sandwiches"!

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkaet

I'm very confused by the sandwich loaf - though the description isn't all that familiar, it looks very much like what we would call "sandwich cake" here in Sweden.

It's absolutely delicious and is not eaten as cake. It is eaten as a main dish, primarily at birthday parties and other large gatherings where you have to feed a lot of people at once (and then usually followed by normal cake).

But I know from earlier that there is an intense, irrational hatred around here for things that look like cake but aren't. I just remember when some people dared to have cheesecakes made from actual wheels of cheese.

The descriptions in the main blog posts about them were funny and nice enough as usual, but some of the comments... People seemed to genuinely hate the people who would dare to eat cheese instead of cake.

And now we have comments like "The Sandwich loaf cake is the most horrendous offensive creation" - I mean, I understand if you're not as excited about cheese as I am, and I understand if you don't enjoy eating cake-like sandwich contraptions as much as I do... But to call it offensive?

Cake purists are my newest irritation in the world of different purists who are actually offended by the fact that some people like a different variety of something that they like.

I like tea and photography, but if I dare to drink "herbal" tea or alter images with photo manipulation programs, I get a stream of "It's not real tea! How dare you like that and call yourself a tea-lover?" and "That's cheating! Only pure photography is art! How dare you enjoy the process of photo manipulation when I do not?"

And now it's the cake purists crying about things shaped like cake, being offended and wanting to throw up. Oh well, at least people weren't as violently offended by the sandwich as they evidently were by the wheels of cheese.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarcus

The book "Secret Life of Food" (awesome book!) has cupcakes made to look like sushi, with coconut for rice, fruit roll-ups for seaweed, and swedish fish on top.
http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Life-Food-Clare-Crespo/dp/B0000AA9KB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270234505&sr=8-1

I think disguising cake as something else is fine (although the kitty litter cake is an exception - that's the nastiest thing I've ever seen), but if you disguise something gross as cake you'd better have a real cake hidden nearby.

-Holly

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

My birthday is also April Fool's Day and one year, to get even with me for some bratty comments I had made about her baking abilities, my mother did a lovely job of frosting a circle of foam rubber and serving it to me in front of the whole family as my "cake". She handed me a butter knife to cut and serve the "cake". Ever tried to cut foam with a butter knife? Doesn't work! Whole family laughed their asses off!

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarbJ

I remember the "cake" I made for a co-worker back in the '80s (before we all knew about sexual harasssment). I used a 2-liter soda bottle, cut in half the long way, and with the pour spout cut off. Then I took a styrofoam ball cut in half, and placed at the bottom end of the soda bottle. Iced the whole thing with pink icing, and little brown squiggles on the styrofoam ball sections.

He laughed when it was presented. Then he tried to cut it. He turned and asked "Why is it so hard?".

Once we all got back up from falling on the floor laughing, I bought out a real cake.

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCrickett

I have made many perfect cakes in my life, and 2 "Wrecks". Both accidents. First cake I was 10 and wanted to surprise my mom for her birthday. I baked up some bisquick cake, and accidentally used salt instead of sugar. Most disgusting cake ever.
My Dad loves German Chocolate Cake, with the coconut/nut icing. I had no idea what it was made of, and when making him one for his birthday used a dry mix I found at the store. Turned out to be ground birdseed. He still gives me a hard time about his Birdseed Cake. He laughs, "That one was for the Birds" like 20 times now.
I would still eat either one of these over the meat (hurl) loaf. No offense to those who love it. Just not for me. Gaylyn

April 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

for my friend's birthday i wanted to make a snake-shaped cake, so i made two different-sized ring cakes. when they were set out to dry i needed counter space so i put the small one on top of the big one - they made a lovely stacked tower, only lacking the final tier. strangely enough, a beer can fit perfectly in height and width so i covered one in tinfoil, popped it in, and iced it up. when my friend tried to cut the cake she looked really worried, as i am known for my pride in baking! i had to tell her that it was actually a beer can, and she took it out and then we ate the actual cake. yum!

April 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Surprising someone who's holding a knife seems like a bad idea.

April 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterserns

Don't know if you'll read this... but my Mom made me a prank cake when I turned 12. She had baked a pie shell inside of a cake pan and decorated it real pretty. Then she let me cut it! It stayed in one piece with the first cut (that surprised my mom), but with the second cut, it crumbled! How could I have broken my Birthday cake! Luckily there was a present inside for me and a real birthday cake in the wings. Funny how I can't remember what that one looked like!

April 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

sendingtheclowns: Basically the iced toilet paper is saying we will miss you @$$whipe

April 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The country singer Loreta Lynn tells this story about a bake off where her husband bought her pie.

She was like 12/13 and never cooked before. She didn't know the fifference b/w salt and sugar and instead of sugar she used salt in her pie.
Dew (her husbad took 1 bite and had a fit.

It wasn't on purpose but It would make a hreat prank LOL,

April 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

i love the quote from the MENSA site;

"It makes me laugh every day. It's geeky, it's clever, it's funny, and it's CAKE! What else could you want in a Web site?"

word verification: dessur

dessur--a fancy french chocolate cream dessert

April 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterarchersangel

A girl once baked cupcakes for my brother with cotton balls in the middle. The first one you ate was nasty. After you knew what to look for, you just ate carefully until you fished out the cotton ball, and they weren't bad. That means they weren't wasted, either!

April 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSmendrick

My sisters and I always used to play food related pranks on one another. One of the worst (because I was the victim!) was when my older sisters offered to make me a tuna sandwich for lunch. I should have known something was up since they were being so kind and generous, but I was young and gullible. :)

At any rate, a few minutes later I was biting into a CAT FOOD sandwich that they were trying to pass off as tuna.... they did make it pretty convincing, I must say. Relish, mayonnaise, lettuce, bread.... they even used tuna flavored wet cat food. *shudder* I took one bite and spit it out. Still gives me nightmares.

April 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMonique B

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