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

Wrecking By the Book

When ordering a cake at your local bakery, you may be given a big picture book to choose from. This could cause you some concern: will your cake look as nice as the one in the photo?

Well, never fear, cake consumer! I'm here to help. Now, will your cake look exactly like the one in the book? YES. Absolutely.

Er, with a few caveats, of course.

Caveat #1: Perspective is all relative.
(scroll down)

And to think: you were worried!

Caveat #2: Designs are open to interpretation.

I could be wrong, but I think this translates roughly to, "I hate my job, and you by association."

Caveat #3: The toy is all that matters.

Just look at that icing sky. Perfection!

Caveat #4: No, seriously. THE TOY IS ALL THAT MATTERS.

[sound of head hitting desk repeatedly]

Caveat # 5: On Wild Card Wednesdays, anything goes.

Really? Seriously? This can't be real...[flipping through proof file] Here it is. Hmm. Ahuh. Ahuh. Yeah. Really? No way. Seriously? They told her the Tinkerbell figurine didn't come with the cake?!? Haven't they seen caveats 3 and 4? I mean, C'MON!


Paige, I am so sorry for you.

Thanks to Wreckporters Aimee S., A.E., Cecily C., Kelli R., and, of course, Paige T.

- Related Wreckage: The Joker's Revenge

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Reader Comments (78)

YIKES! Seriously, grocery stores are where you buy bread and ground beef, not birthday cakes.


February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenniffer

If the train goes off the track, do you want your money back?

Why, yes I do.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteriknow_iknow_iknow

I love that Mr. Krabs isn't even facing forward on the Spongebob cake.

In defense of grocery store cake decorators (and as a former grocery store cake decorator myself), we aren't all bad. Really.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBakingdom


This is sort of like showing potential buyers paintings by Renoir, and saying I'll make the same thing for them. No, it's like saying my dog will make the same thing for them. Or my paint-throwing monkey.

By the way, is there some way to get an enlarged view of the "Men at Work" cake picture? I'm curious about what it was orginally supposed to look like.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGary

The cake with the glove reminds me of the Chappelle's Show with Rick James. "What did the five fingers say to the face? SLAP." I'm not sure why.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Boob Nazi

Some of the cakes from the book are pretty bad by themselves. The Men at Work cake...what are the vehicles driving on? Tree branches? And what is that in the middle of the cake? A volcano? A mountain? What?

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLeserlee

I detest grocery store bakeries. Due to stupid school rules, I must by treats there if my children want to celebrate their special day at school. My son's bday is 4 days before Valentine's Day, so guess what kind of cupcakes he had to pass out? Yup, pink and red and purple-sprinkled albino poo-topped cupcakes, half of them with sliding poo. Blech. I even asked for bday-related picks, and the lady said they didn't have any! *facepalm*
I repeat: I detest grocery store bakeries!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJasry

Actually, since starting to read this blog, I've been cruising the bakeries of my local grocery stores just HOPING to find a cake wreck I can photograph and send in as a submission. But nooo....the bakeries here are all staffed with talented decorators that seem to be able to spell and have decent artistic sense. The cakes either look like the books or are even more gorgeous and creative than the stock photos.

I've never been so disappointed in quality and excellence in my whole life.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

Poor kid. She would have been happy with it if she just got to have Tinkerbell.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

Um...what is the point of the book?

You say: "I want this cake."

They hear: "Throw a couple-a stuffs on there and make sure there's a cake underneat that."

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStacie

To iknow_iknow_iknow.........

Seriously... we must have read the same poem back in the early 70s! I thought the very same thing when I saw the Thomas & Friends cake wreck!

That Thomas and Friends cake wreck is seriously derailed.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercrownring

Bulldozing huge piles of crap - isn't this a metaphor for most people's jobs?

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Ok thats it I'm never going to order a grocery store cake EVER!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Borquez

Um - if you enlarge the SpongeBob cake, what is coming out of the bottom of Mr. Crabs? Just a bit obscene :)

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

When I find it, and believe me I will, I am going to send in the Thomas the Tank Engine cake mum made at home for my 4th birthday and put these cakes to shame in a good way. Who needs to put toys on a cake when you can just make the damned thing yourself? Cheaters!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentershikishinobi

awwww.... these seriously make me want to cry. Especially Paige's cake. That poor little girl who thought she was getting a Tinkerbell birthday cake. How disappointed must she have been???

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

Like some of you,I too,eye the grocery store cakes in search of wreck-worthy examples,but the bakery girls always offer me help with a suspicious tone [like they know!].It scares me and I scurry away hoping to discover my wreck another day.

The last cake-craptastic.

wv)sidethwo-These cakes were created using the sidethwo technique.
That explains everything!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCyndi

These wrecks are great as ever - but sadly I'm consumed with wondering if Paige's last name is Turner.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterthe_exile

*sigh* Just another day at work, pushing crap around at the sewer treatment plant. Men at work, indeed.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

To Vanessa:

I have been doing the same thing!! And they are all perfectly lovely around here. It's such a let down!!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

OK, I'm probably not in the right mood for this but these cakes just make me really sad. Think about the little kids getting them... It's like being the kid that gets a crappy cheapie knock-off when all their friends get a Barbie or a Tickle Me Elmo or whatever.

Though, to be sensible for a moment, I suppose the parents don't just go home and present the cake as "Here's what was supposed to be your Tinker Bell birthday cake, kid. Eat up."

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDora

Vanessa said...I've never been so disappointed in quality and excellence in my whole life.
Vanessa, thanks for a much needed laugh today!!!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPurple misty cow

That last one isn't even the same cake at all in any way. That should be a money-refunded situation.

Shame on any bakery who pulls that kind of crap, especially on little kids.

But it's why I started making my own. I'm too cheap and too fussy to pay someone else to screw things up.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

"Paige T" here (and no, last name isn't Turner, but that would be awesome)

That Tinkerbelle cake actually made our day. My mom was in her last days in hospice so when I picked the cake up, I didn't even look at it, having other things on my mind. When I got home and took a peek, I laughed out loud for 10 minutes solid. Still laugh to this day - it was the highlight of that week.

My daughter Sarah was 5 and all she cared about was yummy icing and the toy - which I DID get from them - it IS all about the toy. She didn't even notice the wreckiness, except that it looked like how she writes her name! However, the pink flower globs were so full of dye that you could taste it, so I wouldn't let her eat those for fear of her growing a third eye or something.

That particular store has always made cakes that look exactly like the book version. And when we went to have another cake made for my other daughter, my husband mentioned this one and they offered to give us the new one for free (even though it was 7 months later). He declined, citing that Sarah's cake has provided so much laughter for us that we weren't mad. But they better get all the others right from now on.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaige T.

Omigosh! You're showing my cake! Er, well the cake I ordered for my husband. I wanted something "manly" instead of the normal balloons and flowers so I went with the one with power tools - the Men at Work cake.

I was left speechless when I went to pick it up, which is no mean feat. Even the cashier was like "A cake! Yum! (looks at design)Ohhhh...Er...." when she rang it up. My sister-in-law took one look at it, laughed and said "You didn't pay for that, right?" When I admitted that I had been struck dumb and had, she ran back up to the grocery store, showed the manager and got my money back.

For the record, it looked like shi...well you know, but tasted delicious. It also inspired several mocking cakes ever since.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAE

That last one is a disgrace! I ordered a Princess cake from my grocery store and it came out great, with all the many pieces of plastic and figures where they belonged. I can't believe they didn't at least toss the flotsam on top! My four year old would have been heartbroken to not have Tinkerbell up there.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterdsgnGrl7576

OK, the Thomas cake I made my son this year was better than the one shown here. And I took the lazy way out: colored can frosting green to ice the entire cake & border. Used tubed black icing for tracks & stuck a toy train on it. Seriously, looked far better than the one on here!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLori

I think I forgot to ask for email updates. Please reject this comment; I just wanted to check the "Email follow-up comments ..." box. There really ought to be a way to do that without having to submit a comment. Maybe more kryptonite fog...

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMikewind Dale

There are few times I balk at what I receive from anyone in a service industry--these people generally work very hard and for very little reward. These cakes, however, would not go home with me and would not be paid for. Sheesh.

wv: ovesses

She's taking a ship ovesses next week to Paris!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentervmdesign

Not for nothing, but having purchased character cakes a few times, they never look anything like the nice picture in the book. They only have the same figurines, but other than that there is no resemblance to the picture whatsoever. In the books are stock photos of cakes made by professional cake designers, those are not the same people working in the grocery store and the corner bakery.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Ha, ha, Vanessa, I agree with you completely! I also searched high and low for wrecks, only to be disappointed by decorators who took their job seriously. Then I got married and moved onto an Army base in Hawaii, and suddenly life was full again. Air-brushed atrocities ABOUND in military commissaries.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAurora

All else aside imagine how sad it would make the recipient/ celebrant who ordered this cake.....I have had this happen to my son on 2 separate occasions and that too from prominet bakeries/ cake shops...not just a grocery store kinda place. I have now started making my own cakes and selling them too...and one of the things i am very particular about is getting the spelling of the name/ message and age written to me via email. I double check these before i go fix these elements on my cakes!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSugablaster

Oh these are terrible! I hope the birthday boys and girls didn't cry.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Bug

I had something similar as a kid--Mom ordered a cake to be decorated like Garfield's head, and showed up to find a sort of tiger-striped sheet cake with a rubber Garfield on top. The latter may still be around somewhere. I guess the toy IS all that matters!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGloom Raider

Seeing cakes like this makes me realize what a lucky little girl I've been. For my 9th birthday, I wanted a cake with the Pokemon Mewtwo on it. He's kind of gray and purple and he's not that simple. (Yes, I was a strange little girl.) We ordered the cake from our local grocery store, and my mother provided the decorator with a very large sticker of him. When we got the cake it was *perfect*. It was without a shadow of doubt Mewtwo, lovingly airbrushed onto the surface of an otherwise plain white cake. I was the happiest 9-year-old in the world. I also see I was a very lucky 9-year-old.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStrange Girl

Hahaha another hilarious post. It's really cheating to put a toy on top of a cake! ...and yet, it can still go so wrong! :-D

Last year I actually ordered #4. Luckily, it looked just like the picture. Tasted horrendous and I think it may have stained the insides of the kids who ate it.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatty Modine

Now, I know that what one sees is not always what one gets, but SURELY there should be as similar a facsimile therof as possible.


February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa (& Billy)

Who hires these people? *headdesk*

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Does the last cake even have a border? What a mess!!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLela

What a crying shame.

I'd rather make my own wreck, than pay someone to do make a cake for me and be dissapointed by the results.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLittle Lovables

Can the decorators honestly not be able to tell the difference between their "creations" and the originals? Or, do they just hope their customers are blind idiots?

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFanboy Wife

I feel bad for those people who got those awful cakes! But seriously ...some of the "professional" decorators at DecoPac and Bakery Crafts need to find better ways to make cute designs using those toys,with less globs of icing. Most kids just see the toy, anyway.
I am a grocery store decorator, and I change designs all the time with the customers CONSENT, because some of those premade designs are just horrendous!
BTW I love that Spongebob cake! It's my favorite one to do, and I DO take pride in my work.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I ordered a ELMO cake from a designer bakery ($55.00) for a two layered round cake. I took pictures in of the 3-D ELMO (wanted it to look like a stuffed ELMO,) I wanted on the top, and how I wanted it decorated. No problem said the girl I requested it from. Went to pick it up. Flat sugar ELMO just his torso sticking up from the cake. I was trying not to get upset so I left with it,trying not to let my daughter know that I was upset--too late to change the cake. Calls to the store were never returned to us. I ended up taking the Wilton classes after that, lessons were cheaper than the cake.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

I've ordered soooo many cakes from local grocery store bakeries and I am so thankful they've never ended up anything like these. I am now seriously considering having them make me a wreck. The more lumpy brown frosting and random trinkets the better!

wv: pupsio - What Spanish puppies drink when they're out of Coca Cola.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRandomly G-Licious

Wow. At least the kids were probably happy with the toys but I hope to god whoever got that last cake got their money back. No toy and it doesn't look anything like the picture? Epic fail!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWildroses

....Really? I don't understand how bakeries can continually just ignore how they advertise their cakes to look like.
I'm probably getting too passionate about this, haha.
Well, more wreckage for us I guess!

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTay

Oh my goodness..that last one just. Oh man. Cause you may have been in jest but to little kids the toy really is 90% of the cake. I'm sure whatever poor little tyke got that one would have forgiven all for that snazzy Tinker Bell. Some people just have no soul.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergreeblygreebly

Hahaha. I just love sponge bobs. lol ;D

Jules" rel="nofollow">Soloden.Com" rel="nofollow">The Brown Mestizo

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJules

Oh my.. I really can't believe anyone would want to actually pay for those..scary

February 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

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