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)

I can easily believe many of these came from the bakery that way, because I've bought 2 that weren't much better, and yeah, both times it was because I bought Pre-decorated cakes instead of pre-ordering, & had to trust whoever I could find to come behind the counter & write on the cake--NOT the regular decorators. It's a gamble, but sadly, I felt I could trust them more than my own poor ability to write with icing!

In one case, it was so bad (just VERY shaky-looking), I was mortified to think of taking it to my son's birthday celebration, even though only 2 other kids were coming...but I couldn't justify buying a new cake. But overnight, the night before the party, all the frosting on the sides of the cake (round cake) fell off! I found the cake in a weird puddle of frosting... and I was so happy, because then I could justify buying a new cake from another bakery!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Wow! No wonder my friends and co-workers are in awe when they see my cakes! You can actually READ what is properly spelled!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

i have crappy handwriting. which why i could never be a cake decorator.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterarchersangel

I couldn't believe it when an American friend of mine lamented that kids aren't being taught cursive writing anymore. That's appalling! About as appalling as the cakes, really.

As for the cakes, I think it was best summed up by my 7 yr old ... and I quote:
"The blue butterflies are pretty ... but they shouldn't have licked it. You get in trouble for doing that" (regarding cake number 6)

(regarding cake number 8)
"They forgot the Y in birthday."
See guys? Even a 7 yr old can pick your spelling mistakes!!!!

Sydney, Australia

PS: To Reverend Ref+, I totally agree. Perhaps they should read "Ode to the Spell check" before they set that rule in concrete.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I'm thinking the last one was done so that they could add whatever occasion it was at a later time. Saves SO much time!

So I am curious. Do any of these wrecktators threaten to sue you for putting their cakes on the blog, thereby mortifying them? Like the gal who was caught on tape texting and fell into a fountain - you can't tell it's her but she's mortified that it's all over the internet and wants to sue for her own stupidity. Or maybe they consider it a form of flattery. I'm just constantly appalled at stupid.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChere Nordstrand

As a former cake decorator, there is no correlation between your handwriting or penmanship & your ability to write on a cake. It's more like lettering a poster and has to do with patience, a little practice and an eye for spacing.

Later, as an ice cream cake decorator, I learned they are much harder! Regular icing won't stick to the cold ice cream the same as to sticky frosting and letters become misshapen and even will slide around on the surface! LOL I cursed a lot writing on ice cream cakes.

-Barbara Anne

P.S. as a non-parent I'm fine with dropping penmanship in school. Let's teach them spelling & math instead! :(

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Snafu is spelled with a u, not oo.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Wow! My mom ordered a cake once that was so ugly she started laughing when they brought it out to her (not like my people pleaser mom at all). If it hadn't been a true "Cake Wreck" she would have bit her lip and brought it home anyways. The bakery lady literally threw the cake on the floor and told her to pick another one from the case for them to write Happy Birthday on.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Obviously I'm too hungry to be looking at Cake Wrecks, because the only thing I thought when I saw all of these was "Mmmmm, cake...."

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley

Not that it's any excuse, but I think I know how SOME of the handwriting ended up all shaky. Any decorator will tell you that if your frosting is too stiff, or your tip too small, the frosting will come out squiggly. A simple fix is to put a larger tip on the bag or knead the frosting in the bag to "loosen it up". Clearly, finding a solution was not part of these peoples' jobs. Ugh. When in doubt - PRINT people!! Print!!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFerralyn

Yay, entertaining Birthday scrawl for my Birthday! Any of these cakes would be an improvement on my birthday cake, though, since I didn't get one at all. :( That's the problem with being the baker amongst my friends/family: if I want one, I have to make it myself!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDanInNZ

So the Happy poo cake is actually a Boston cream pie. I'm no fan of fussy regulation, but 'decorating' those ought to be illegal, especially when it is done with a caulking gun. BCP, like cheesecake, needs nothing after it is made except to be eaten. By me.

What amazes me is how many of these get completed. Is it not obvious from the first letter that wreckage is underway? Is there really a 'thought' that "if I keep going, it will magically turn out ok"? Remember what Einstein said about expecting different results from doing the same thing.

John, I hear you, especially about Yahoo. I like the 'snafoo' spelling; I never cared much for the original acronym, although one can mentally substitute 'Fouled'.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

To whom it may concern:

We spell it snafoo. We know it's wrong but it's far more innocent so it's staying. I know. It hurts to look at. I'm sorry. This too shall pass. As a remedy, go to the comment section of any Yahoo article and you'll feel better about our little spelling idiosyncrasies.

Wreck On!


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

People PAID for these? Good grief.

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Ah, but John (the hubby of Jen)-- regardless of how you spell it, what the acronym stands for does apply rather well to mis-spelled, badly-lettered writing on cakes!

And anonymous at 1:18PM reminded me of the summer I worked at Baskin Robbins (as one of those very young teens, I might add!). Our outlet didn't sell many cakes, but there was the occasional decorating job. Fortunately, the franchise owner and managers actually had standards and self respect: all staff had to practice writing on wax paper before we were allowed anywhere near the cakes. So while my writing wasn't beautiful, no cake of mine ever qualified for CW back then. @Barbara Anne's right-- it's all practice.

And @DanInNZ... yup. Me too

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAliza

You spelled snafu wrong!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Oh thank goodness for these professional cake decorators! Without them, I wouldn't have as many side splitting laughs!

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Chances are these are NOT writing from the store decorators themselves, but rather the evening clerks who get the bare necessities of training in anything other than answering phones and putting up bread stock.

Seriously guys some of us store decorators are quite good. Maybe it's time that store decorators got some recognition and not be made to be the brunt of the joke every day?

January 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterplastiqueponi


Actually, some of you store decorators are amazing! Seriously. There's a reason why Jen and I never post pictures that we took at one of our local bakeries: the bakers there are phenomenal. The fact is, 90% of the bakers out there are fantastic. And that's what Sundays are for.

The rest of the week, however, is for the other 10%. I didn't think I'd spend this much time on comments today but you have to know that we check back story on everything and these cakes are real. Sorry if some of you didn't like the post today. We've got some great helmet cakes tomorrow.

Peace out, yo.


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

Considering the fact that 'snafu' is originally a military term - I learned it from my father, who served in WWII in the Army Air Corps - I believe that tomorrow's post on helmets is going to be awesome.

Thanks, Jen and John!

January 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermladybright

Thanks mladybright,

But it's spelled snafoo.



January 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjohn (the hubby of Jen)

I don't know whether to laugh, cry or just stare at these wrecks. Lol what were they drinking when they tried to write on these cakes?? Unless of course they hired kids to write on these then they wouldn't have to take any blame but still.. scary penmanship if you can even call it that.

January 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArlene

The sad part is I have writing like that :/, people with crap writing should never be hired as decorators

January 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I don't doubt these were done professionally -- I actually submitted a handwriting wreck done at my local grocery store bakery, but it apparently didn't make the cut. In my family, the cake has become known as Awesome Cake. The poor wreckerator who did the writing did warn me he wasn't very good at it, but insisted he practiced every day. I thought he was being modest, but I know better now. :-)

January 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

"Professional" cake decorators? - No - I might go so far as to say they get paid to work in a bakery. That is the extent of their professional credential! OUCH! My kid has better writing than that and I actually DO mean WITH ICING!

January 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

It's a widely known fact that I write like a 5 year old boy; not a 30 year old woman. I'm a lefty and the nuns I had in school refused to work on anything with me since I didn't use the right hand. That said, I am a great baker, and a great cake decorator BUT I will never, ever, write words on a cake.

My sister even has awesome penmanship and she told everyone at our last shindig that her 6 year old decorated the cake.

Icing isn't as easy to work with as the good decorators make it look. Just because you work in a bakery doesn't mean you know how to write on cakes...

January 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

i thought the happy birthday cake said 'happy birthday goat' at first (im dyslexic)

Maybe block lettering would be easier

January 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Someone who works in a bakery said to themselves, "Why not show up drunk for work today??

January 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFCMomofaBunch

snafoo or snafu?

January 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCharlene

very,very nice....

February 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbarby

Although I have seen paid decorators write like these examples, those are mostly grocery store cakes and that means you risk having an 17, 18 year old clerk writing on your cake. Have you seen how they spell while wonder.

March 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I myself have made the mistake of using "gel" icing. Everything just melts together in a slimy oooze. I just hid the cake and started to cut it the moment we brought it out. HE CAN BLOW OUT THE CANDLE ON HIS OWN PIECE, DONT LOOK AT IT!

April 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersara

The one with the ribbons is from the same bakery than this one without a doubt

Greatings from Argentina! Vicky G.

July 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVicky G

I think the "p" in "ptad" would actually be silent...

April 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDylan R.

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