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

Hey, This Cake Tastes Like Cardboard!

We've all been there: you order something special, wait weeks for it to arrive, and then discover the hard way that you're allergic to latex. Dang it.

My point is, we've all faced disappointment. And itchiness. But mostly disappointment.

Case in point: Eagle-eyed wreckporter Leigh attended a graduation party last month where the cake turned out to be, well...a little dry. 

First the hostess commented how hard the cake was, as she couldn't get a balloon pick to stick into the cake

Then they tried to cut it.

Emphasis on tried:

Hey. Waaaaait a second. Is that...?



It's a frosted cardboard box!


This would be a brilliant prank, of course, if it hadn't come straight out of the refrigerated display at their local big-chain store bakery (you can see the price tag in the first photo). OOPSIE. I guess now we know where all those display cakes end up!


A big thank you to Leigh W. for forever redefining "box mix." You know, between this and that time Amy found a pair of scissors in her birthday cake, I'm starting to see why some folks prefer homemade.

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Reader Comments (61)

Box cakes are not all that great! I would have been furious, as well as embarrassed, had I tried to cut that cake at my son/daughter/friend's graduation party. Worst part would have been craving diving into those icing roses and then not daring to touch them since god only knows how long that wreck has been sitting there on that box. Of course, the parchment paper left between the layers is pretty good, and I can understand how that could happen, but really sorry about the red velvet wedding cake...

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonkaloosa

Are we sure that this wasn't a display cake as in "we can make you a cake that looks like this one for this price"? That price tag looks like something that would be on a display and not on a for sale product.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdijital101

And they didn't notice how light it was? From the looks of it it's a Costco cake and those things weigh like 10 pounds!

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

I have to know, did Leigh get her money back?

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

Yes, the cake is cardboard. Still, isn’t the real point that they spelled “Congratulations” correctly? (Actually, the scary part is – after years of reading Cake Wrecks – I realized I wasn’t sure how to spell it any more…)

Sung to “Paper Roses”

I realized the kind of cake you gave me
When cutting into it took quite a shove
Let’s scrape away the frosting that enrobes it
And see exactly what this cake’s made of

Cardboard boxes
Cardboard boxes
Oh how real that cardboard seemed to be
But it’s only imitation
You bought imitation cake for me.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSharyn

The irony is that I would probably love getting that cake because the frosting is my favorite part.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRemerdre

Even if this was intended to be a display cake only - which is probable - the fact remains that it somehow ended up for sale, and got sent home with people expecting something a wee bit more substantial than frosted air. And that, children, is where the wreck lies.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrizzy

I've made "sponge cake" for a prank before (take one kitchen sponge, add frosting), but this ....

And I agree with Emily, that looks like a Costco price sticker. I'm glad I've never pulled a cake out of the display cooler there, I'm wondering if those are real cakes or demonstration models.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergamingkitty

It seems this sort of negligence is becoming more and more common. I work beside a studio where they sometimes film cooking shows, and one time the landlord was kind enough to bring over some of the leftover cakes.....I mean the reject cakes. I was disgusted to find upon cutting what seemed to be a lovely layered wedding cake, that some of the layers were foamcore. They looked just like icing! Disgusting.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne Dargie

Oh, for heaven's sake people, think of it as additional fiber in your diet.

(I know, not nice. And a big rip-off. But as someone else noted, wouldn't it have felt pretty light when you picked it up? And I can't quite see on my screen, but did they have the graduate's name on it?)

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdrgns4vr

Ewwwkay :/

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermindy1

OMG. That is AWESOME! I love it.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrevor

I would love to have been a patron at the store when the woman returned this cake and hopefully raised holy h-e-double toothpicks.'d think she would have noticed how light it was.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoJo

If they're in the display cooler, they're for sale as actual product. And even if they weren't, SOMEBODY should have noticed when they were ringing it up or something like that. And for those of us who adore frosting, this would be the worst tease ever. As @Donkaloosa said, you'd want to just grab one of those roses and go for it, and you COULDN'T!!!!


@Shary: Brilliant as always, m'dear. Brilliant. Nothing fake or cardboardy about that at all.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeesMom

The cake is a lie!

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleorising

This is the first wreck for which I'd recommend a lawsuit.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClassic Steve

I would love a video or recap of what happened at the store when she took it back (assuming she did).

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTed C

O. M. G. I am flabbergasted. Can't even *begin* to express the horror I would feel had this happened to me!!! O.O

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteranony mouse

Well, that's one way to ensure that the cake is gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, sugar-free, low-cal and thus suitable for all party-goers...

In all seriousness, I do feel sorry for Leigh; Costco cakes are pretty much the only bought cake that's worth the calories. Which means those folks got their hopes up, only to be crushed... but at least she had a wreck to submit, given everything was decorated properly and spelled correctly!

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAliza

It's the latest trend in decorating. Forget the high-calorie cake, decorate an occasion-appropriate item. For your graduation you get a frosted mortar board! Just think of the wonderful things we might get for weddings and baby showers!

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterzoomom

This is so bizarre. It seems like SOMEONE (either the several store employees, the customer, or the cashier) should have noticed the weight seemed odd. However, mistakes happen, apparently. The really sad thing about this wreak is that this cake was the DISPLAY...meaning this is an example of the BEST cake we can make for you...and it's really not that impressive.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDanielle

Part of me wonders how someone carried around an empty box with icing on it and didn't think it felt lighter than it should.

The other part of me always wondered how the decorators always got the sides of the cake SO perfectly straight!! :)

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Cup a Dee Cakes

The ONLY way a frosted box would be acceptable is if someone was jumping out of it.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

@leorising: Color me surprised that Jen didn't use that in the post!

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Wow, I REALLY hope they got their money back...

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTaylor

@Andrea -- I like the way you think.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSharyn

Now, THAT is funny!!!!!!!! lol!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sucks to be the employee at that store... :D

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I'm sure the parents were furious, and I hope they got their money back, but that'll be one heckuva funny story for years to come! And how many graduates can say their cake was an official Cake Wreck? How cool is that?

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaki

Wow, just wow!.

We need to check the sanity of several people before we can call this a day. First we need to give the baker a major adjustment to their Cerebral Cortex. There is no excuse for a display cake ending up with the other normal real cakes.

Now lets move on to the customer. They should have realized something wasn't right when they picked up the box holding the cake. It doesn't take much to notice that the cake doesn't weight hardly anything. Even the most vacuous Hostess Cake still feels like there is something there.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIsolder74

Thats happened to us before except ours was on a display table and some lady bought it. It had no price sticker on it. You would thing people could have some common sense. First of all why cut into it more than once? Secondly it weighs a ton less than an actual cake!

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdez

Perhaps some Pointy-Haired Boss type said, "Fill in the gap in that display case." When staff replied that there were no actual cakes ready for the purpose, PHB said to use a display cake, explaining that they could always substitute a real cake 'later'.

Before the switch can be made, and while no one who was party to the original discussion is working (of course), Unsuspecting Customer hands the 'cake' to Unsuspecting Name-Writing Person, who writes the recipient's name (extra points for misspelling, but we'll never know) and hands it back without realizing that it seems oddly light, in an entirely redundant and nearly superfluous box. The rest, as they say, is history.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

Latex allergy! Snerk! You made me snort Diet Pepsi out my nose.
So far, I think I'm the only one that caught the latex joke. Good one!

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertenorspaz

My high school home-ec teacher told the tale of her wedding cake top tier. They had saved it to cut on their 1st anniversary but because of several house moves and whatnot, it got delayed till their 5th anniversary. They thawed it out and made a lovely meal, had champagne, the whole bit. When they tried to cut it, it was too hard. They thought at first it might still be frozen, then wondered if it was dried out from freezer burn after being frozen for 5 years. When they finally sawed through it, they discovered it was styrofoam. They had a good laugh and drank the champagne... with oreo cookies instead of cake.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSugarFrosted

Was there a cake order attached or just a pick up cake?

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjen

okay true story, this has happened to me while I was at work. lol. I work for Wal*Mart's bakery. I've literally (at least twice) had someone call and cuss us out because they came in AFTER HOURS and bought a "cake" and when they tried to cut it AT the party it turned out to be our Styrofoam display cake.

When the customer grabs it and takes it to the checkout they just print up a price sticker, the overnight cashiers don't question why out case cake wouldn't have a sticker.

so yes, I know this can happen, unfortunately some other customer may have grabbed this off the counter and then set it back in the cooler not thinking, unknowingly setting this poor lady up for disappointment.

I do think it's kindof funny that it is labeled "chocolate cake"---since cardboard is brown and all :)

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

On the flip side, where I work the cakes are clearly labelled DISPLAY - NOT FOR SALE and people still insist that they want them. A couple years ago it took 3 levels of management to tell a lady that we couldn't sell her a 3+ month old gingerbread house display.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterUmmy

At bakeries, they add a fake layer of cake to make what you bought look bigger. Example: if you only ordered 2 layers, but wanted your cake to look grand and big and impressive, they charge you to have that extra "layer" of decorated cake. Just an insider's tid-bit.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOlga

hmm weird fact for you, in the Second World War, here in Britain they would make a cake for a wedding, a really little one and then put in a box tier thing that looked like a cake.
There are still a few of them in museums and that, it very cool and strange

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermellonmarshall

folks get a grip. A lawsuit over an $18 cake? It's a cake from Costco, notice that it only cost $18 for a cake that will easily serve 3 dozen people( it's about 1/2 sheet size). Ace of Cakes (or Mikes Cakes or any of the other lovelies that make it on Sunday Sweets), it's not! But while we all love to oogle the fancy cakes wtih tons of fondant, most folks can't/won't spend that amount of money on a cake, besides which while fondant is to look at, buttercream is to eat. This is just your adequately decorated, remarkably tasty, mass produced cake that you won't go broke buying [(or would have been were it not a frosted box ;-) ] For some occasions (like feeding the hungry crew taking down the set at the theatre after the show closes) it's just right.

Still don't understand how a person could buy that cake & not notice that it weighed next to nothing.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDonna`

Ah yes, I work at Costco and this isn't the first time this has happened. Graduation is a hectic time and somehow a members make it out with display cakes. In our store our display cakes are not in the refrigerated case, but past the point of sale and CLEARLY displays, and we still ended up with someone returning a styrofoam graduation cake . I can assure you this person got a full refund, as that is Costco's return policy on everything. As for how the employees didn't notice how light the cake was, those cakes are heavy and akward, and 9 times out of 10 we just leave them in the cart so they don't get squished and ruined on the belt (which I have done to custom cakes before :-(

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda

@SugarFrosted, the same thing happened to me. My mother lovingly wrapped the top layer of my wedding cake and kept it in her freezer for my husband and me to enjoy on our first anniversary. When a year had passed, my husband and I got the cake from my mother, thawed it, and then discovered that it was a beautifully-iced layer of styrofoam! That should have been an omen-- the marriage didn't last.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

Wow, you're right-the cake IS a lie!!

Are we sure it was from Costco and not, say, the Aperture Science Testing Bakery? ;-)

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

These cakes were very popular as prizes during the Victorian-era dance marathons – they were customarily awarded to the winners of the Box Waltz competition. Dance marathons were very exciting events and the tension would build as the host would delay revealing the victorious couple by reading a commercial first – prefacing this with “We’ll be back in a minuet….” Then, for dramatic effect, they would have a fox trot out with the prize-winning number in its mouth (and even though it was tame, you wouldn’t want to tango with it….).

@Sharyn :-)

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermel

I see all these comments about how the buyer should have noticed how light weight the cake felt. I do cake decorating as a hobby and have decorated fake and real cakes. Yes, a cardboard box may weigh next to nothing, but I can assure you that frosting does not. Especially in the amount that is used to decorate a cake to attempted perfection. I can absolutely understand why the weight itself wouldn't have raised any suspicion.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSummer

My first question would be why the hostess would be attempting to put a balloon pick in this cake in the first place? It's not a birthday cake, it's already decorated, and there really isn't a spot on the cake where a balloon pick would fit in the decorating scheme. Very strange...

On the other hand, I do support the cutting of cake and the ability of regular knives to be able to cut past icing. That definitely makes the concept of eating said cake much easier. :)

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermillbrit

@Andrea ~ Now I have that image in my head. Thanks for that! Magic Mike anyone? bhahahaha

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJodee in WA

That is a Costco display tag. Not a for purchase UPC. Looks like someone picked up a cake that they didn't order!

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSueT

mel -- Of course, the dance theme explains it perfectly. That's why I thought "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" when I first saw the cardboard.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSharyn

My grandmother actually pulled this prank on someone, except she frosted the box with plaster of paris in a very convincing frosting imitation. She was an awesome prankster, and apparently everyone laughed.

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

@ Sharyn: I was wondering if you'd attempt a song for a fake cake. And you made another masterpiece!

@Andrea and @Jodee: you are women after my own heart! I'd gladly take a cardboard cake if Magic Mike were jumping out of it!

July 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTLC

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