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

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 (204)

I went on a "Merry-Go-Round of Bisected Ballerinas" once. Truly horrifying experience. I wouldn't recommend it.

I love the pink elephants cake! Totally reminds me of the pink elephant scene from Dumbo!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWide Awake Wife

I want that book now! It'd go great with my American Woman cookbook from 1944. Splendid recipes for calf brains and tongue sandwiches!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteraufdeutsch

I seriously remember seeing drunky pink elephant cakes in the sample case at our local town bakery when I was a kid. Guess they bought the book!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSara

I really need to remember to not be drinking my coffee when reading your blog. Off to find some paper towels...

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

Love the Hitchhiker's reference! That ballerina cake is most disturbing! How was that ever a good idea???

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTiffani

42!! :-)
I love these historic wrecks. Soooo tacky.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

WOW -- those elephants, makes my teeth hurt to think of biting into one of those (assuming they are solid frosting)
It also looks like that last pirate cake was decorated with a beige telephone cord around the edge....

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

so people have paid for that book?

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous


August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I personally think that last cake is hystercial.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRosakala

Groom's cake?

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAuntie Meme

I love this. Absolutely hilarious... and so shiny. So very shiny...

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

I absolutely love old recpie cards and books like this, they crack me up. I think I might use some Play Doh and try the instructions for the tennis player.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBet

Pink elephants, you say? Ah yes, I see it now and I rather wish I hadn't.

By the way have you seen this wreck that was Obama's b-day cake?

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJedi Knight Ivyan

I had to look at the Pink Elephants on Parage cake FAAARR too long to figure out what it was.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

I think you may be on to something here, Jen... kind of sad, though, to think that 40 years later things haven't gotten any better.
But then again, if things had improved we'd have one less source of entertainment. ;)

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Amazing book-wreck! This should also go on

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatcal

O. M. G.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLola R

We all need all frosting all the time! I was doing pretty well until I got to Betty's Bisected Ballerinas. That made my palms start tingling and the fingers twitching toward the icing bag. (Well, I'm lying a little here for the sake of literature.) Actually, it made me avert my eyes and weep. I did many things during the 60's but I can truthfully say Assault by Frosting was not one of them.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdrgns4vr

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! John McNamara and Roland Winbecklar were pioneers in the field. Back away slowly Jen!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

I love the pirate cake - complete with all the cliches - eye patch, peg leg, treasure chest, skeleton. Wow! What an eye for detail.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I love those cakes, the poodle cake reminds me of those knitted poodle decorations my mom used to have. Smashed pink elephants, i want one! All that and a Douglas Adams reference too!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Jen, so nice to wake up early to such a wrecky wreckrospective. You made my day - thanks!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermhays

That poor pink elephant cake. Most of the elephants look like pigs. I don't drink, but even I know that that cake is a waste of a good bottle of champagne.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Kudos for the Hitchhiker's reference. ;-) I must forward this to my family who lives in Gilbert, AZ!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristina M.

I'm going to have to find this one and add it to my collection of wacky cookbooks.

Overlooking the homicide, the water on the pirate cake is quite fabulous.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGothknits

Memories from the past - Now that you've posted that picture, I remember seeing that book years ago.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOklahoma Granny

I for one, would love a dead pirate cake. Or a live Johnny Depp to come popping out of one, not fussy.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfrigglesnitz

it looks more early sixties/fifties to me.Note the frillyness and poodle, definatly pre-mini skirt.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdiddleymaz

AWESOME. it's like cakewreck archaeology!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLinnea

I think that the blood is my favorite element, because you can see that he very carefully used a slightly different color than the other "red" that was used for the pirate's pants. And the treasure chest. And her belt. I mean, when one color has such versatility, it takes true dedication to use a different one just to get the blood "right."

The elephant cake is, I fear, easier to understand once you realize that he started out with 6 bottles.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Say what you will about these 1960's wrecks, but no effort was spared to make them look good. Call them odd, call them scary. But don 't call them lazy!!! That's the problem with decorators these appreciation for time-consuming hard work. Just get it done quick, doesn't matter if it's right or even pretty. Those older cakes showed that if you just take it step by step, you too can learn to be a scary cake decorator!!!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

So sad that it wasn't a leggy blonde...

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I like the chest hair on the pirate. Tasty!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSuetois


I have to say that I think the squashed elephants are pretty danged cute, tho.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAngie

But the rope piping on that cake is AMAZING!


August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterImagineMel

And to think they did it the "ole" fashion way... no rice crispys, no fondant, no specialized add ons!!!

Loved the ballerina and pirate, would love to see a cake with the two of them...

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Um, those are so wrong. On so many levels. Were people blind back in the day as well? *Shivers*

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFrom a CrAzY PeRsOn

awesome post, jen! hilarious! that bisected ballerina cake cost someone a lot of money for future therapy sessions.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephW

I think the object of the bisected ballerina-go-round is that, viewed from the side at the right height, the legs line up with the body that's in the center of the cake. I'm just relieved to know that my Friendly Neighborhood Public Library has had the sense to weed the offending instruction manual (if it ever had the poor taste to buy it in the first place).

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoan


I would have thought the pink elephants cake was inspired by Disney's "Dumbo" - there is a scene where Dumbo drinks a bottle just like the one on the cake, and sees visions of pink elephants everywhere...

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Outlier

I think little Miss Kournikova has a tad more to be concerned about then just her thyroid. Like, perhaps, her disjointed arm. Her misconstreued sexy-pouty face. Her disproportioned thigh-leg ratio and the general sheen of her complection.

Good thing her cheekbones make up for all her faults. Girl needs some blush!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGilsner

I so want the pirate cake for my birthday!

I'm loving the vintage wrecks. Kind of reminds me of the hideous weight watchers recipe pictures from the 60's that I've seen floating around the internet.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Ha, I actually find the elephant cake cute, if confusing. It reminds me of Dumbo.

However, the rest is a stunning display of wreckage throughout the ages.

WV: frahypht
If you ask me, the pirate cake ought to be left on a deserted isle without a lifrahypht.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

That last cake would almost be kind of nice, without the murderer and dead victim on it!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Wow, those look like the examples in my old Wilton cake decorating practice book, you know, with the interchangeable pages and the milky clear cover flap that you actually were supposed to pipe your frosting on. My aunt gave it to me to use, she went to culinary school in the late 60's and specialized in pastry. I wish I still had it, I would scan and send them to

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterColleen

This is a scary archaeological find!

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFanboy Wife

Pink elephant cake=60's hipster hotness. I seriously love that one. The others, not so much.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

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