My Other Blog

What's a Wreck?

A Cake Wreck is any cake that is unintentionally sad, silly, creepy, inappropriate - you name it. A Wreck is not necessarily a poorly-made cake; it's simply one I find funny, for any of a number of reasons. Anyone who has ever smeared frosting on a baked good has made a Wreck at one time or another, so I'm not here to vilify decorators: Cake Wrecks is just about finding the funny in unexpected, sugar-filled places.

Now, don't you have a photo you want to send me? ;)

- Jen


It's National Handwriting Day! That's right, it's time again to take a moment to appreciate the handcrafted artistry that is personal penmanship.


Hey, three 'P's for effort!

Hmmm. Ok, so maybe you Wreckerators could use a few tips. Nothing major, of course; just a few simple techniques that even a trained possum could perform to make your piped penmanship a ptad prettier. (Of course, pastry possums are hard to come by these days, so you'll just have to do.)

- Try, try again.

If your first attempt is less than stellar, just go over it again with a darker color.

Of course, only go over those areas that really need it.

- Turn it around.

Everything looks neater upside down.

- Hide it.

Using an identical background color will effectively camouflage any snafoo.

- Keep 'em guessing.

Is that thing a butterfly, a flower, a shamrock, or something else entirely? Who knows? The important thing is your clients will be too preoccupied guessing to notice your wrecked up writing.

- Move to an earthquake-prone region.

This provides handy excuses in a pinch.

And finally,

- Quit while you're ahead.

Or just quit, as the case may be.

Thanks to Andrea B., Raymond P., Megan R., Tanya R., Jessica, Westly W., Kelley B., Zachary S., and Julie B., who know that quitting is the better part of valor. Or something.

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Reader Comments (84)

Well, the Happy birthday Daddy one looks like a young child did it. But seriously, what are they teaching in schools these days? Obviously not penmanship!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Here's your answer:

They don't teach it in schools anymore because "writing may be a lost art soon". Sad though that is.

We, and all our handwritten confections, are doomed.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTori

Somehow, these seem appropriate, given that a number of states seem to have chosen to eliminate the instruction of cursive handwriting from their elementary school curricula(e.g. Yay. Go, progress.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMjx

Why use gel to write on a cake? That's just dumb since it will run... lack of common sense sometimes.

My handwriting on cakes isn't that great but those show that mine is pretty good...

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

The last one is probably the best. Just 'Happy'.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStella

Ack these are terrible. But I have to point out snafoo is actually an acronym spelled SNAFU and since this is a family website I won't write it out :)

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather, Neilson, Grace &

The only excuse I can think of is multi-tasking - maybe they had a mixer in one hand, beating some cake batter, and wreckerating with the other. Sad, just sad.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Writing Goddess

I believe even my handwriting at it's worst is better than these. And please...Why does it look like there are teeth on that second cake?

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertarichuck

If they are writing with those shop-bought icing-in-a-tube things, I can understand that - my last attempt with those was just as bad. But if they are professional bakers using the proper equipment, that's just sad.........

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline B

Language is alive and constantly changing - for example, I'll bet that you googled "snafu". Who's to say that this isn't the cutting edge of the next wave in language development? Nappy blob blob, everyone!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Mindy

These are from professional decorators? Really?

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

On the positive side:

At least the first wreckerator actually spelled everything correctly.

And the fourth cake really does look like it was done by a young child. If that's the case, then Daddy should be very proud.

Speaking of penmanship and stuff -- here in Oregon, the state school board recently decided that students could use spell check on their exams. Eye think they half maid a big mistake; because spell check dose knot all ways work.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterReverend Ref +

This makes me feel better about my cake writing when I worked at Baskin Robbins. There was nothing more crushing than showing the customer my wobbly, ill-proportioned, squished-to-the-right-side writing and having him or her say "oh that's....that's fine...thanks"

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

wv: brumenth: I think wreckerators brumenth or sniff way too much icing.

Are each and every one of these bakery-written? Really????? Sometimes I wonder if people buy a blank cake, blunder it themselves and then send it in to you guys. These are sad, just really, really sad!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLoo-E Loo-I

wow. just wow.

and yes, western hemisphere marsupials are HIGHLY intelligent! ;)

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterteri

The thought that unsuspecting customers actually paid a deposit for any of these just saddens me.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBADKarma!

I don't think these are from professinol decorators. Can't Be!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLue

My handwriting's been described as "the death throws of a headless epileptic chicken" and as "worse than a doctor's"-- and yet even *I* can do better on cakes (and have recent photographic proof to back that up!!)

These just scream "I don't care" about the wreckerator's continued employment or the recipient's happy day. How can the business be willing to let a cake go out looking like that?!

At least Daddy's cake did look like a 4 year old wrote that.

And the earthquake cake: that person needs to see a doctor. Shakiness that bad can't be good!

But yes, I think it's important to teach penmanship in schools. In my case, Australian grade schools did, Canadian schools didn't-- so I can write well when I want to.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAliza

I like the "Happy" cake. He's just happy sitting there.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRuthie

Hey.. their giving it their best shot!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterartdecodiamonds

I read CW religiously every day and love it, but this post just isn't working for me. I suspect most if not all of these were written by little kids. If you've ever written with an icing tube you know it's a little harder than writing with a pen or pencil, especially for a child. All I'm saying is that you always say you won't put amateur cake decorators creations on here, but that's kinda what you did here. If the people who submitted these claim they were written by a pro I don't believe it. I still love CW and EPBOT though, and no disrespect intended.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamesterCK

Most of these cakes are still in their boxes. I wouldn't say they're professionally done, but I think people actually got paid to do these.
Depressing isn't it.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuBee


These are all professional cakes. Now, could they have been written by the night manager or Jim from the deli? Maybe. But they were picked up from the store like that.

Just so you all know what Jen and I see in the emails that accompany submissions, here's the one for the Daddy cake:

"After the silly teenage girl at Baskin Robbins insisted that she write on my husband's birthday cake (I didn't ask for this kind of violation), this is what happened. After 20 minutes, she was too embarrassed to bring it out herself, so she had the manager bring it. When he showed it to me, I promptly said "how much of a discount do I get for this mess?" To which he said nothing, but opened the cash register and gave me my money back for the cake."

This is what we get and, after seeing over 14,000 of these cakes, we're ready to believe you.

Wreck On!


January 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjohn (the hubby of Jen)

Thank you for making me happy about my less than stellar handwriting with icing. When all else fails, I use imprints made for specific occasions. How can a 'professional' not?

I think the one for daddy is cute, since a 4 yr old did do it. (I hope and pray I'm right)

BTW - we had penmanship as a class of it's own, and even the spelling teacher marked a word wrong if you had to cross out and start again. It was 'messy'.

Too bad these people didn't have my teacher with her lovely ruler.

I think today's post inspired tears, and not from laughter this time. :-(


January 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermladybright

The only cake that gets a pass is the one to Daddy... and hopefully it really was the kid that did the lettering for it. *hoping and praying* The rest of these people need to keep their day jobs cuz this is awful!!! LOL

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNo Cake Fo YOU!

You know, I'm amazed at how many of these cakes look like DQ ice cream cakes. I guess they don't take penmanship into account when hiring staff. Sad. Very sad.

w.v. sterne: I'd give the wreckerator a very sterne look if I got a cake like one of these!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura P.

Those are quite . . .wiggly.

wv: unlersch

The drunk Wreckerator said, "It'sh time to unlersch thish beeeeautiful mersssssage, and let it run wiiiild!"

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEllen

I do suspect that many of these cakes were inscribed by folks other than the "pro"-cake decorator. I've worked in places where I offered to teach the charming teenage staff how to pipe properly so they wouldn't feel scared when there was no decorator around to inscribe the generic cakes, but most were too frightened. Truth is, you can have rotten handwriting and still write perfectly on cakes - it isn't just the medium that's different - you have to forget that you're "writing" and instead approach it as an exercise in piping shapes. My cursive handwriting doesn't translate well to piping, but the printing I've done on cakes has always been beautiful and takes advantage of the properties of the frosting/chocolate or whatever I'm piping with.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

if they weren't all in store bought boxes/containers i wouldn't have believed these were real! sooooo bad.
oh and maybe they will start teaching "texting lingo" instead of hand writing. Or how to draw emoticons?

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

John (hubby of Jen),

Wow. I would have bet the farm that cakes 1, 4, 7 and 8 were blank and then wrecked at home. I agree that someone from the deli (or other department) did these if the bakery staff wasn't there. Sometimes it would be nice to see the email/story about the cake - even if they were at the end or there were links (I bet a lot of those emails are hilarious!).

Wreck on! :-D

lol, my wv is redomsh - I see "redo", which is what these cakes need!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLoo-E Loo-I

Ok, someone was paid to do these (wreck on, John hoJ!). That doesn't preclude the possibility that child labor laws either a.) have been violated multiple times or b.) have been repealed.

Certainly places known for cold eats do seem to hire 'em awfully young, and the experience needed isn't going to be anywhere near even the minimal standards set by your average supermarket bakery. If you spell your name correctly on the application, you're in -- what person capable of doing anything else would schlep ice cream for minimum.

That said, there is no excuse for these. If worked at such an establishment, insisted (*against* the customer's wishes, no less) on 'decorating' a cake and was too embarrassed to present my work myself, it might occur to me either to do it over (using one of those 'knife' thingies as a scraper) or literally eat it and tell the customer I changed my mind, while pulling a fresh cake from stock.

Call me an observer of human nature, but I'm thinking the wreckerator in question is related to the manager. Only someone with a lot more job security than is typical in the field would have dared to do such a thing -- unless she just wanted out and knew that quitting means no unemployment check.

Are wreckerators stuck in a time warp, perhaps? First there was all those horrid staircase / fountain cakes (about the only thing from the 80's other than the resolution of video game graphics that completely sucked fondant), then the penultimate -- next to last -- wreck today looks to have been written with one of those vibrating pens. [Managers: keep an eye on coffee consumption -- that'll save two ways.]

The last one: 'Happy' what, trip to the ER? It looks to have been frosted with poo.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

Three P's for effort, wow lol.

wv: Hey, nookere at my beautiful handwriting on this cake.


January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Happy Poo!!!!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

LMAO. with that last one I keep wondering why they didn't add 'Now' and "?!".

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I thought it was an 88. I hope Natalie gets a better cake when she does turn 88.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

:s I'm not too fond of national handwriting day, being dysgraphic and all.
It may not have to do with improper instruction in school at all that so many students and even adults show up with poor fine motor (handwriting) skills.
Dysgraphia is all too often left undiagnosed, and students with dysgraphia can get held back only for their sometimes completely illegible penmanship.

Piping letters onto a cake, though, can be done well even by a dysgraphic. So, in this case, yes, there is no excuse.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

I think most of these cakes were bought without writing and decorated by children. My son decorated his own cake when he was 7. Wrote happy birthday on it himself. It looked like alot of these cakes and he was very proud of it. I though this site was to find humor in professionally decorated cakes.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

lol drunkerators

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

I am 11 years old and I bet I could do better than that! Kids at my schools don't know how to write very good.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMicalah

If this wasn't on a site I trust, I would NEVER believe these cakes were written on by anyone but a 3rd grader,(kindergarten-er?) blindfolded after staying up all night eating sugar! And then I am still thinking the 3rd grader would do a better job.
WHO would BUY those???
Oh, maybe if they were in the 90% off case and you just felt like cake for dessert, MAYBE

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Valinda

I get that piping nice, neat, all-lined-up text is tricky, but come on...this is madness!

I even get that underpaid workers who have to churn out a gazillion cakes a day will occasionally make errors or not be ready-for-the-judging-table neat, but wtf?

My five year old will be making her cake for the Austin show in a few weeks. I'm going to encourage her to try piping-writing even though she can barely hand-write, so we'll have a good benchmark for comparison. I'm betting she can do better than any of these!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly Chapman

While working at Food Lion, I was asked once to write something on a cake. After I told them that I don't work in the deli, have never written on a cake before, and that they would do a better job themselves, they still insisted.

To this day, I remember that clear green gel. And shudder.

wv: ratersti - the ancient art of handwriting in such a way that only you can read it.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

Wow! I worked in a bakery for about a month and fortunately for the customers I only ended up having to write on two cakes.

I failed cursive in elementary school and had never picked up a piping bag, yet I was never that bad.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSara

That's words.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdorably Dead

I can vouch for the authenticity of the "Happy" cake. It was sitting sadly in the bakery case, looking like it had been written on with a leaf tip instead of a writing tip. It caught my eye to begin with because it's a Boston Cream Pie, which usually is sold with no writing or decoration. I have no idea why this one was scribbled upon and placed out for sale ... but at least it's happy.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterladycrim

I hope this doesn't turn into another Epcot, but... to echo what @heather, neilsen et al said, it's "SNAFU":

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBuffy

When my five year old's homework looks like these cakes (and it frequently does!) I help him go back and fix it.

Maybe these wreckerators need a good Mommy on hand!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I love this blog! Even on the worst days it always makes me smile = ). Thanks!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

My lord. That makes me feel MUCH better about my poor cake penmanship. The first three weeks I worked at my bakery, I refused to write on a cake for fear of ending up on Cakewrecks. But now, my cake-penmanship is better than my everyday handwriting! (Thank the Universe for small miracles)

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTauney

Writing in icing is HARD, y'all!

Well, maybe not THAT hard, but still....

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuzette

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