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

Sunday Sweets: Birthday Blasts From the Past 

Back in Ye Olden Days - you know, when *I* was a kid - we didn't have all these grand productions for kids' birthday parties. There were no decorated dessert tables, color-coordinated drinking straws, painstakingly themed activities, OR complimentary gift bags:

(By Cake Over Heels)


So. Pretty.


Nossir, we got a backyard with a splintery picnic table, and we LIKED IT.

Or, if you were lucky, you might get to have your birthday at McDonalds:

(By Tami Utley Sugar Art)

(For the record, I never did. And I'm still jealous.)


If you were both lucky AND rich, you got to go to Chuck E. Cheese:

(By Legend Cakes)


I vividly remember my Chuck E. Cheese doll - but I can't remember ever actually going to Chuck E. Cheese. I can only assume I attended a friend's party, and the experience was so completely mind-blowing it wiped my memory.

(Hey, look! I found my old doll! Meeeeemorrieees...)

In the sixth grade I went to the local roller rink for my birthday:

(By Cake Diane Custom Cake Studio)

I never did figure out how to use those giant rubber toe stops, but luckily slamming full-speed into the carpeted walls surrounding the rink always did the trick.

(Also, that color palette up there comprised my entire wardrobe at age 12. I can't decide if I'm more horrified or delighted that fluorescents are coming back in style - but I'm leaning towards horrified.)

Even back then roller rinks felt like old-sneaker-scented time machines. Sometimes the little snack bar even had one of those glowy juke boxes:

(By Mike's Amazing Cakes)


And remember the line of gumball machines against the wall?

(By Leonie's Creations)


Still, the best birthday parties were the ones in someone's backyard. You know, where first you'd don a paper hat and chow down on take-out pizza:

(By The Sugared Bear)


And then the parents would corral you into playing Pin The Tail on the Donkey:

(By Keller Confectionery)


Or if it was warm enough, they'd turn on the sprinklers and set up the Slip n' Slide:

(By Cakes to Remember)


Later you'd open your presents:

(Sub'd by Jenny G. and made by Jones' Food Center in Vermillion, SD*)


(Sub'd by Chris H. and made by Berliosca)


And then, for a finale, the most amazing thing would happen: the adults would hand out big sticks so you could beat the living tar out of some cute paper mache'd animal:

(By Bubble and Sweet)

The attack was over when you ran screaming to collect all the candy innards off the ground.

It was glorious, I tell you. GLORIOUS.

::happy sigh::

So... cake?


Hope you enjoyed that trip down memory lane, peeps! As always, be sure to check our Sunday Sweets Directory to see which bakers in your area have been featured here on Sweets!


* The first supermarket bakery we've ever featured on Sunday Sweets.

« Spot The Hidden Mickey | Main | You Gonna Eat That? »

Reader Comments (51)

You were actually able to beat open your pinatas? We usually whacked it until someone cried and Dad had to break out the chain saw.

Great cakes and commentary -- it made me miss my entirely purple wardrobe. (Most fluorescents make me jaundiced, but really EXCITED to be jaundiced.)

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSharyn

My God, this post brought back my entire childhood, from slamming into the carpeted walls at skating rinks to stop because I didn't know how to otherwise, to splintery backyard picnic table birthday parties which were the best things ever. Ah, the nostalgia!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

Love these cakes...but I have to ask...did they really name their kid "Lambdin"?? Poor child. I see a lot of brutal teasing that a cute cake will never make up for.

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCathy

I never had a pinata myself, nor a party at McDonald's or Chuck E Cheeses nor.... well you get the picture. Still we survived without all that stuff and managed to have fun on our birthdays, didn't we? Such wonderful cakes!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen

the narrative is always the best part of the post, spot on and witty and smart.

Absolutely charming, and so much a memory-rush that I can feel that scratchy party-dress.

The only thing missing was a Betty-Crocker-mix cake with the tiny rock-hard, squared-off pointy, chalky, inedible letters from a hanging-packet at the grocery store. Along with the customary HAPPY BIRTHDAY in little concrete blobs, there were usually pink flowers for girls and garish yellow-brown cowboy hats and lassos or rocket-ships for boys. Luxury and sugar, all in one spot.

Ahhh, the good old days, of crinkly paper cloths under a tree, little ice creams with wooden paddles, and comic-book party favors.


November 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterracheld

I once had a birthday at the roller rink-I was able to use those toe stoppers :D that slip n slide cake just gave me the biggest grin :)))

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermindy1

I'm the 6th of 7 kids, so just having one friend over for my birthday was a big deal. Never realized until I was older, my mom was a great cook but a lousy baker. As long as she put sprinkles or those little candy letters on a cake, I was happy!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLorie

I actually used to be the person that did the parties at McDonalds! I bought one of the cakes for my then-boyfriends' little brother's 16th birthday. He was so stoked. Thanks for the memories!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRamona

The ruffles on the pinata cake are.awesome. the end.

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Who cares if you're not a kid anymore? We're all kids at heart, right? YOU SHOULD GO TO MCDONALD'S FOR YOUR NEXT BIRTHDAY PARTY! Or Chuck E Cheese's. Whichever will exorcise that old demon. :)

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHAL

"HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY, CHERYLl!" doesn't "read" as a KID'S birthday, to me, *wink, wink*!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

My childhood birthdays were pre-McDonalds and Chuck E. Cheese, but we had fun anyway. No picnic table (winter birthday) but a basement filled with friends was fine. Tried roller skating once...couldn't figure out how to stop, so I'd just try to slow down and head for the nearest group of large people and mutter opps, sorry, excuse me, as they helped me stop. Had a Mr. Potato Head, but there was no body included -- you used the parts on a real potato. (I don't know what happened to him, but I heard he later went on to become a lawyer....) Childhood birthdays were simpler then -- a few games, cake and ice cream, presents and laughter. Thanks for the memories of the "good old days"....

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermel

Wow. Definitely a morning to reminisce! The pinata cake was a favorite - I can't imagine getting all of those ruffles to lie nicely and stay there.

But I gotta say it...Lambdin? What in the absolute ****, people?

Scary moment of the day - I used to wear fluorescent colors, and now my KIDS say I still look good in them!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKel

I didn't get a McDonald's or Chuck E. Cheese birthday party either (Chuck E. Cheese was not in existence when I was a kid.) but I did get a Barbie doll stuck in the cake dress birthday cake one year. My mom was a cake decorator though so it actually turned out beautiful and looked like what it was supposed to be. (Also, don't think it was a whole doll jammed in a cake, I think they had doll picks where they stopped at the waist and you just put the pick into the cake, if I remember right. It was many many moons ago.) But even though we never had blow out parties we always had THEE best cakes because our mom would let us pick whatever we wanted and she would make it for us. She was the bomb!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersandy

Nope even in cake form Ronald McDonald is still creepy.

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHolly Folly

Let's see. . . . We went to Chuck E. Cheese for my son's third birthday. That's when I discovered they serve beer so the parents can survive. The photo of my son sitting in the car ride and waving is still on my fridge. (He's now 18.)

We had the party at McDonald's for his fifth birthday. That's where three little girls were LITERALLY climbing over each other so they could sit next to my son.

My son wanted a pinata for his sixth or seventh, birthday, which is at the end of January. He picked out a Santa pinata that was on clearance from Christmas. And yes, he insisted that that's what he wanted. So on his birthday, we tied the pinata to the top pole of his swing set. He and his cousin, who was 10 or 11, were able to break open the pinata and just beat the living hell out of poor Santa. I've always wondered what the neighbors thought of that.

We also had the skating party, but I don't remember what age that was. I just remember that I was in the third day of a migraine, and I had to sit and listen to loud disco music for four hours. Thank God for Mountain Dew so I could survive the lights and noise without throwing up.

Thanks for the great trip down memory lane! This was fun, and so were the cakes!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTLC

The only thought on my mind right now is, how can I get that Operation cake for my next birthday? SO AWESOME.

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterwaffre

HAL, have you been to a Chucky Cheese as an adult? Even Dante's many circles of Hell could not compete.

Love the pinata ruffles!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDNA

Mmmmmm nostalgia. Tastes like delicious cake!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterE. Anne

Three cheers for Jones' Food Center!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuBee

Love all of these! My nieces have been to many a Chuck E. Cheese's birthday party. I went once and couldn't take any more. I think my favorite of these cakes is poor old Eeyore, gazing sadly at the person who's about to cut the cake (or jam a long, sharp object into his hindquarters). And even the box on the pizza cake is edible? Amazing!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoxy Random

If it makes you feel any better, my sisters (twins, four yrs younger than me) had a McDonald's birthday one year, and my parents forgot one of them when the party was over. She waited, alone, for them to come back - about an hour later. That was the last McD's birthday any of us had :)

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Chuck E. Cheese always smelled funny. I'm sure it still does. Did you know more 911 calls come from Chuck E. Cheese than any other chain? Anyway, I was always for ShowBiz pizza. :-)

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIsabella

Both of my girls got a Chuck E Cheese party -once for each. It cost over $300 for a "reserved party table" with pizza, drinks, cake and tokens. And you only get the table for an hour and a half.

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJillM

I remember throwing a giant tantrum when I was little because I didn't get any candy out of my older brother's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles birthday pinata. My mom made every kid at the party give me a few pieces of candy. LOL

I'm still puzzling over the name on that Slip 'n Slide cake. "Lambdian" Huh?

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTeal

@ mel: Ah, yes! I do believe that I've heard of that particular lawyer; a leading counsel, I believe...
(I heard he may even have been involved in the Spudnik satellite project in the '50s.)

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

We just had our son's birthday party at the local cinema pub - he turned 9.

No mob of crazy children running through my house and all I had to do was make minion cupcakes (they were watching Despicable Me II) and show up.

(freeze the twinkies before decorating, makes them easier to cut and handle)

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

Adorable. I did enjoy going to Chuck E Cheese. Sadly I never did get a party. I do dimly recall hiding in the closet but I'm not sure whose birthday party it was. Maybe mine.

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

The McDonald's Birthday Party wasn't all that great - the cake was weird and the party games were extra lame (like who can stack these Big Mac containers the highest?)

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSJ

Jen and @rachel -- I don't remember inviting you to my backyard birthday parties! We had a redwood picnic table/benches, so you really felt those splinters. I still have the bump on my head from a cousin's errant piñata swing -- I guess that explains a lot, doesn't it.

@mel, I was wondering where my MPH pieces went -- I guess he's clerking for your guy.

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZippy

What a perfect post. My birthday party was usually a few friends for a round of miniature golf. We had a rather swanky mini golf course near us with a Japanese garden theme. Only later did I realize most courses didn't have koi ponds, bonsai, and stone lanterns instead of fiberglass windmills and similar junk. Love poor old Eeyore. That would be a very hard cake to cut. And yay for the supermaket Operation. It's beautifully done. A friend (a very handy one) made an Operation Halloween costume one year. It worked just like the real thing.

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarkinSF

Yep, pretty much sums it up!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJill

This is my first CW post, although I've lurked for a very long time. Love that the slip-n-slide and Operation cakes are buttercream. They're my favorites.

The whole post brought back the one vivid birthday cake for me from back in that day. It was my 12th birthday in the mid-late 70's. My sister (older, in her 20s at the time) made me a cake of a pair of the coolest pants anyone in middle school wore - Levi's corduroys (chocolate brown of course, but no poo pile in sight). Now I'm getting mushy because that was the last birthday with my grandmother and she's in the photo with me and the cake. Thanks for the Sunday sweet memories!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersue

Love today's post. I was born in 70' and you pretty much described exactly how all of our birthdays were. Good memories. Currently, I am preparing for my child's 6th birthday. Spent hours packing goodie bags. Seriously-how did the swag bags start?

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCindi s.

Vermillion?! That's AWESOME! I went to college in that little (very small!) town. So exciting to see it featured as the FIRST supermarket cake on Sunday Sweets. And my very favorite childhood game as well!

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

*I* got the backyard parties (also BMcD - Before McDonald's)... But my kids, both winter babies, got the out-of-the-house parties. Mickey D's, BK, Papa Gino's - as soon as it dawned on me that there would be no pre-party cleaning, no soppy boots, and no post-party cleanup; that alone made it worthwhile! I always provided the cake, though. In the long run, it was cheaper to haul the kiddies somewhere and drop them off at home after, hyped on grease and sugar. *beg*

When they got a little older, there was a limited-number sleepover. Best one was my daughter's ninth. Along about ten p.m., it began to snow, these humongous flakes drifting silently from aN absolutely still sky. We got them all dressed in their outside clothes and boots, and out they went, playing in the snow by flashlight. In the morning, it had all melted like a beautiful dream. She still talks about that night... Sadly, I was never again able to arrange a perfect snowfall for her birthday.

seconding the "lambdin" question... it just reminds me of seeing the name lundyn and crying a little.

And btw, I had a mcdonalds birthday party every year when I was younger... because my mother worked there. so. Yeah not that much fun. I would have rather had a pizza hut one.

November 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTiffani

Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermelanie sparkles

I adore Eeyore! So prosh.

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

Wow! Maybe I'm an old soul or just had old school parents or something, but I'm only 25 and you just described every birthday I ever had as a child in the 90s. Of course, I also had parties at a swimming pool, but it helps if you're born in July.

That piñata cake is awesome!

And while Eeyore was very well made and I would feel sad cutting into him, I'd just be plain afraid to try and cut into Ronald McDonald or Chucky Cheese. Maybe they'd try and take the knife from me or something. Anyone agree?

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha P

I had my third birthday party at McDonald's, but only because my mom worked there at the time and she was in charge of coordinating birthday parties. I had a bright yellow cake with Ronald's picture on it and Mayor McCheese himself gave me a "Birthday Certificate" keepsake.
I never had a party at Chuck E Cheese, but my son and several of his frieds have and they are quite expensive.
Most of our parties were held at a relative's house, I say "our" because my cousin, my younger sister and I all have birthdates that are very close together so we had to Share parties quite a few times.
My fondest birthday memory is when I turned 13 and took my best friend with me to Six Flags, we got to stay until the park closed.

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterladiebugg

Another shout of "Yay!" for Vermillion. Although I worked at the "rival" bakery in town, I'm happy to see Jones' Food Center make the cut.

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

I'll eat my hat if the BOX on the pizza cake is edible.

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenP

I had to check out that grocery and learned that it is locally owned!

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

We roller skated in our town in 6th grade. 7th graders were too cool for the roller rink. 5th graders were too babyish. But they would do this drink where they ran the cup of ice under every single soda in the dispenser. We called it a Suicide. Said in a whispery tough voice and drawing out the -ciiiiiide. We were so tough.

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShelley in Southern Illinois

As an aside, Jones Food Center also has the best bread in the world, according to Oprah Magazine

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi

i had a birthday party at mcdonald's.
no one i knew had one at chuck e. cheese, because the closest one was like an hour drive away.
i went to one party at a roller rink. the girl's father was a dentist (or was he an orthodontist?) so he was one of the few parents who could afford to have a party there.
the vast majority of birthday parties i went to as a kid were in some back yard.

November 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterarchersangel

They're compensating these poor kids for being named Jamyre, Kaidence and Lambdin!
Once my chocolate cake fell apart when mom was getting it out of the pan, so she turned it into a mountain with a winding stream, little pine trees and whipped cream snow on top. We loved it.

November 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

Cute cakes.
But... "Lambdin"?? Is that really someone's NAME??
Just... just no.
We need a law that you have to spend two weeks living with a name yourself before you can saddle your kid with it.

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterElise

Don't be too jealous about the McDonald's birthdays. I had one of my birthdays there as a kiddo and the cake was a sheet cake with a Ronald McDonald clown on it except he was missing his head. Yep, not traumatizing at all.

February 26, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteramy

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