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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

By The Book

So what really happens when you order a cake from the bakery's big book o' plastic kit designs? 



Amanda D. ordered this Cars design, which was not only in the bakery's book, but also on a giant banner behind the counter:

Even so, Amanda made sure to ask if her cake would look exactly like this one, and was assured it would.

Which was, well, half right:

I was about to point out how nice those yellow lines on the bottom are, but then I realized they're just another piece of plastic. So never mind.

Oh, but for the full effect you really need the side view:

You can almost see the cake tipping over in slow motion.


Jessica W. ordered this design:


I still think sticking stuffed animals on a cake is kind of questionable, but hey, who am I to judge?

Especially when the end result comes out looking this good!

As you can see, it's exactly the same... toy.


For this next one I'm going to show you the cake first, just so you can experience the same bewildering confusion I did until I looked up the original e-mail to figure out just what the heck it's supposed to be:

Any guesses? 


Aw, c'mon. Look reeeeally hard!

It could be there's MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE. Eh?

Ok, ok, here's the design:

Yeeeeah. I'm pretty sure the toys aren't going to help much this time, Bronwyn.


Sam's baby shower was jungle themed, so she asked for this Dora design with some "jungle animals" on it instead of the toys:

Aaaand this is what she got:



John actually wanted me to pull this one because it's "exactly what she asked for." (Don't worry; I'm checking his temperature as we speak.) Still, I decided to leave it in as a valuable lesson in advertisement vs reality. And also so I can get some support here: This is fugly as all get-out, right? It's not just me?


And finally, my favorite of them all:


Wyatt ordered this Star Wars design, but I guess the bakery ran out of the toys? Maybe? Wyatt doesn't say, but I'm guessing that's what happened, anyway.

So, are you ready for this?

Aw, what am I saying? You'll never be ready for this.




Thanks to all of today's wreckporters for the reminder that not just brides-to-be have to be afraid: WE ALL DO.

« Inside The Twisted Mind Of john | Main | Dear Dairy »

Reader Comments (70)

How can ANY of those people claim to be professional bakers?

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermindy1

I've got Mom stuff this morning, so it's an abridged song...

Sung, loosely, to RESPECT

What I want
Bakery, you got
What I need
I know you got it
All I'm asking is for
A little plastic I can take home

Slap it on a cake for me
How hard can that be?

(Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me...)

Jen, yes, fugly as all get out. Give him two tylenol.

I may order an Ore-oops cake for our next event. It's... breathtaking.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSharyn

That poor panda sure got iced....*chirp chirp*

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermiss_paper

Decorating cakes for yourself to your own specifications, fun.
Decorating cakes for paying customers who whine and gripe about every little thing, not fun.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

about the "jungle" cake, I'm 100% sure the "animals" are these Japanese brand (iwako) ERASERS, which makes this possibly the first cake wreck decorated by school supplies?

I rest my case

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterV

I'm with John here, I don't think all of these are fugly. Maybe not what was asked for but not fugly. The Death Star one is actually nicely done, nice even & straight piping around th eedges, very nice writing, just not recognizable as what was requested. The panda one would be nice withou the weird looking stuffed bear, as is the Dora cake with one caveat. They bothl need to work on their piping around the edges a bit more. But something nicely done that's not what was ordered is a wreck indeed.

P-L-A-S-T-I-C my earworm for the day. Thanks Sharyn

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDonna`

Fugly cake IS wrecky. John was distracted by the itlle bitty cutsie wutsie aminals. They sort of look like they were made of sugar.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentergeedyup

You know considering how awful all the other cakes are I think I want to high five the maker of that pillow pets cake. Like a "hey you didn't suck as much as you could have. Way to GO" kinda thing.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHolly Folly

re: the Dora/jungle cake. Nope, you're not alone. It's *truly* fugly. (and I have more than a nodding acquaintance with that word, as s-i-l used to call my darlin' hubby "Fugly Dougly") Orange piping around top edge is awful, & just disappears altogether at top right back. The greens of lawn & bushes (?) don't match as in orig. That pond looks like a partially healed bruise. She wanted jungle animals *instead* of PLASTIC toys ... so she got plastic animals! (maybe she should've said plainly she wanted edible animals) Plus the writing looks like a 3rd grader just learning cursive, and who still needs lines to not wander off.

Everything today is groovily wrecktastic, but the Oreo mess takes the ... lining in the puke bucket. (fooled ya - you thought I was gonna say "cake", huh? ;)

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

Kudos to the baker of the "Oreo" cake for their dedication to truth in advertising. Is it a wreck if you are made aware of excactly what you're going to get? No. Would any of today's cakes be labeled as wrecky if the bakers simply displayed pictures of their actual work along with the big book o' plastic kit designs? I think not. Would customers purchase their products? Certainly not. Do I enjoy answering my own questions? You betcha.

Is John correct? Perhaps. If Sam asked for a vaguely messy, amateurish Dora themed bitty animal cake, sans Dora, she got exactly what she asked for.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuBee

That's not the Death Star. That's The Black Spot. Pirates know what I'm talking about.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren O

"I find your lack of fiber disturbing."

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSaraCVT

You know, my birthday is this week. Perhaps I will request an overly complicated cake (like that Cars one) - just to bask in the hilarity that is bound to ensue. DON'T PLAY IT SAFE, PEOPLE! Let's go all out!

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPamtha

The lettering on the last one is very nice.

... For a "Circling Ur-anus wiping out cling-ons" cake, that is... O_O

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBADKarma

Yes, that stand doesn't look like it will stand for long. (And if it does fall over on its own, the customer won't stand for that!)

I think the main problem with the Transformers and Star Wars cakes is that you can't really tell that they're supposed to be Transformers and Star Wars cakes. At least the first one is obviously a Cars cake, regardless of how ill-done it is.

Hmm. The Oreo cake certainly isn't done up as nicely as requested, but hey, it's still Oreos on cake, so it should still be yummy, right?

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNyperold

Sharyn hehehe

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermindy1

The cars one was interesting, at first I thought that it would be ok because you got so many toys on top, then you showed the side view and it's only a plastic picture of so many disappointing.

The jungle animals is sort of cute, still trying to figure out how pandas are jungle animals, the tend not to hang out with elephants and giraffes and what ever those deformed frog/flower/butterfly things dotted around.

The oreo cake gives me ideas for the next potluck at work, smash up the oreos and toss them around vanilla icing, so simple even I can do it.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Dear Cake Wrecks:

Once again I feel I must correspond with you relative to your post. Please be advised that while you have deemed these “Wrecks,” as you call them, they are, in fact, stellar – and by that I mean light years ahead of their time – examples of legitimate, and may I say, high respected, cake decorating. As you know, anyone can accurately recreate a cake from a picture; artists have been making near-perfect copies of masterpieces for years. These cakes, however, represent an entirely fresh and creative approach to cake copying.

What you have pictured are outstanding examples of Squint Cakes ™. Using a process invented by our client, the Amalgamated Bakers Consortium, these cakes can now be made by anyone as easy as, well, if you’ll pardon a little word play, ABC. By combining the advanced decorating technology of Near-Likeness ™ with the almost magical process of Semi-Resemblance ™ our bakers can create a cake that, when you squint very carefully, using the directions provided, kind of looks the picture!! We call the results Somewhat Similar ™.

I would hope that this friendly letter would be sufficient to end what our client feels is, putting it mildly, mockery. Should it not be, however, we will have no choice but to refer the matter to our partner, Pat Pending, for further proceedings. I trust we can reach an amicable solution and hope we can avoid that unpleasantness.


Mr. Potato, Head Counsel
Tinker, Toys and Tops

Perhaps, as a goodwill gesture, you might consider featuring these outstanding cakes in a week-end post. You could call it Sunday Squints ™.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermel

In defense of the overworked, underpaid grocery store cake decorator...most of these are not horrendous. When you are doing the work of 3 people by yourself, you have to cut corners a bit sometimes. It also bugs me that the examples shown in the books have been painstakingly decorated by one person whose only job is decorating that one cake for that one picture. It's like going to McDonalds and expecting your quarter pounder to look as perfect as the ads. It's just not gonna happen. If I went to a cake shop (shoppe?) where all they did was cakes, I would hold it to a higher standard, but most of these look like your typical grocery store decorator who was just told the other girl called in sick and she has a 5 hour shift to get 28 cake orders done. Oh yeah, and could you just frost up these cookies and brownies, too? (I speak from bitter, bitter experience.)

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoemama

First Oreo cake - 'mmmmmm, that looks delicious'.

Second Oreo cake - 'something very bad happened here'.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoan

First, in defense of the beloved John(thoJ), the original Dora cake ain't all that great looking, so I can see where he might think, "Yeah, pretty much the same level of fugly", although the first one is at least neater.

Second, thank you, Sharyn! We know how much you love us when you take the time to feed our Wrecky Song Parody addiction!

I'm agreeing with @Holly Folly on the Pillow Pet cake. Not what was depicted on the offer page, but not as horrible as, say, the Not-Transformers or Not-Death-Star cakes.

Speaking of the Not-Transformers and Not-Death-Star cakes, I think they go together. They depict the wormhole @Haiku Joy dug to the moon. *waves through the wormhole to Haiku Joy*

Lastly, @Karen O: I am a pirate and also a Whovian, so I doubly know what be The Black Spot, arrr.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJust Andrea

I'm with John on the jungle animals cake. I was like, well that's not bad, It's bright and colorful and those ARE animals... It may not be as polished as the Dora cake, but I didn't think it was fugly either. And even though the CARS cake was really quite ugly... look how much extra cake they got with the wreck. That's gotta make up for something.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKrysmon

@Joemama: That was my point exactly. If bakeries and bakery departments were as honest as the maker of the Oreo Cake, their products wouldn't be wrecks. They'd just be mediocre cakes. If people were made aware of what they were actually going to get, they couldn't complain.

@mel-Would you know whether Near-Likeness ™ and Semi-Resemblance ™ can be applied to people? You know, like make-up. I'd like to look Somewhat Similar ™ to Audrey Hepburn and so far squinting hasn't worked.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuBee

If you use a picture for advertising that your employees do not have the skill to replicate, that's "false advertising" at the very least; at worst, it's perilously close to outright fraud. And it's not "customers whining about every little thing" when the item you get is nothing like the one you paid for.

That said, I really don't understand the Oreo cake. Unlike some of the others, that doesn't look like a difficult design to replicate, so why did they mess with it?

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLee

Come enjoy some nice tea and Swedish kaka in the new tea room downstairs.
Don't mind the stroboscopic disco ball and surround sound stereo system.
That is for the dancing.
After tea.
Come to the tea room.

The stuffed-animal-toy-on-it cake is... acceptable, design-wise, here, because there's a plastic tray under it. Execution is still a wreck though.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterR3Test

V, those are definitely a set of erasers from the party favor section at Wal*Mart. As bizarre as this is going to sound, I have used them on a cake before.

Mind you, I did it as a joke, and put the horse one INSIDE the cake--after I hollowed out that part of the cake AND wrapped the bottom of the horse in tinfoil so it wouldn't actually touch cake--for a friend who always says she wants a pony.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia

(squints down from the moon)

(squints at fugly cakes)

(sews up wormhole . . . sphincter . . . to prevent company)

(uses left eyebrow to wave back at Just Andrea)

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHaiku Joy

That third one is Epcot.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGhost of Wreckmas Past

As a former professional cake decorator, I have to say, the instructions and pictures they give the decorators can be either really vague or impossible, plus a lot of stores are missing tools or colors or tips or something that's needed, so the decorator is forced to improvise. But I am not condoning these wrecks! Because I've made that Dora cake before, and the Cars cake, and I am starting to suspect those photos supplied to the grocery stores are photoshopped. It's very frustrating to a perfectionist like me. Also if you know of any grocery stores who need to replace some wreckerators with talented and experienced decorators who know what they're doing... I'm in the market :P

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKay

And...this is exactly why I make all of my own birthday cakes. These people are just lazy. How hard is it to pipe some flowers on that jungle themed one? I would want my money back.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenD

I couldn't figure out what the one cake was. Maybe the earth and the moon? An eclipse? Than I saw "MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE" and yelled while scrolling down "Oh, tell me that is NOT supposed to be a TRANFORMERS CA-". Then I saw that it WAS supposed to be a Transformers cake. And promptly moaned "OHMAHGAWD. I have no childhood left. That baker killed it."

In other words, that messed up Transformers cake made me sad.

And yes, that jungle cake is fugly. *sigh*

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNoey

I'm sort of having one of those days where I'm having a low tolerance for inept people (not that I'm complaining, but . . . ) today's wrecks are really not helping. I think I'll just mosey on over to last Sunday's Sweets.

Ah! Much better . . . Thanks, Jen!

Ooo! Any special plans for May the fourth?!

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim

I just have one question. Since when are horses "Jungle Animals"? Just wondering. :)

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStaci

Thank you for making my day :)

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMadTigerKitty

Am I the only one who is annoyed that none of those animals on the Dora cake even go together???

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Who made that oreo cake?

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElphaba Thropp

Your best bet for a grocery store cake - buy a box of cake mix and decorate it yourself. Otherwise purchase a cake from a true professional.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenn Everett

#1 Yes, the tilt is a tad concerning, but I was preoccupied with the prospect (today must be Alliteration Day) of urgent phone calls later in the day from worried parents: "I have a question about the party. Donna and Donnie didn't (there I go again) eat anything green -- trust me, these kids will not eat anything green -- so how is it that...what do you mean, 'it must be the black frosting'?!" A short lesson on food dye metabolism follows, which fails entirely to assuage any fears.

#2 All of your basic elements are there; it's sort of simplified, is all. A reinterpretation of the...who am I kidding?

#3 Was anyone besides me thinking, "MST3K"?

#4 Both pictures used in advertising. Including Red Shirt and the car? I'm guessing that particular campaign was prepared by someone who had just received a pink slip, and I don't mean as a present.

#5 Jungle animals. Ok. Not entirely sure about giraffes and pandas in the same jungle, but to each his or her own. As a fellow guy (see what I did there?), I would normally automatically side with John(thoJ), but I'm pretty sure the customer didn't order that border. He said, switching from alliteration to rhymes.

#6 Looks like they also ran out of airbrushing, white frosting and time.

Thanks, Jen, for pointing out that the bakeries in question did actually represent that they could make the example cakes; that helps quell the otherwise inevitable "customer's fault" Epcot.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

(squints at sign posted on bunker door)


(wouldn't mind a cuppa)

(misses her fondant litter)

(remembers how a nice caka is nice too)

(observes festivities from afar)

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHaiku Joy

That one with the animals, those animals are erasers. Seriously, what happened to all the plastic stuff around here? :D

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJemWolf

As always, both pictures and comments made my day! I did get the references made by everyone, (Whovian, Star Trek and Star Wars fan, among other sci-fi/fantasy loves.

I have to add that each of the wrecks looked more like they were 'home-made' rather than professional.

I also want to add that Joemama is correct in all their statements. I do not understand why store cake bakeries try to sell cakes that are supposed to be so elaborate. I can see them offering toys and/or edible prints, but put them on sheet cakes or layer cakes that do not require excess amounts of training to imitate.

Thanks, again for the laughs!

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkimrogue

Good cake ain't cheap.
And cheap cake ain't good.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSkirt

John (thoJ)? There are no tags on the post...?

[Editor's note- Wow. Good eye. I promptly asked Jen what tag I should use and she looked at me like I was an idiot. Heh. Aheh. Thanks for the heads up. -john (thoJ)]

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScaperMama

I don't care what you say about that Oreo cake. It looks delicious. I want to eat it now!

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

The death star on the last cake looks like one of nibbler's dark matter turds (futurama fans know what I'm talking about.)

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRose

This makes me feel really good about the lightsaber cakes we made for my nephew's birthday party over the weekend. While they probably would have been cake wrecks if done professionally (because my mom cut them and they were way too thick), they still looked better than most of the cake wrecks I have seen on this site!

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I agree with Kay and Joemama. I'm not only ( and only decorator) a cake decorator but do a set up which is all the breads, bagels and rolls that need to be set up for the next day. I have do all the nightly cleaning. I am always by myself and when you have limited time it's hard. It's not that we don't have skill. We don't have time.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSara

I don't agree with these either but they aren't that bad either. As a decorator for a major grocery store chain I understand. That's the problem most of you never done these job so you don't know the real amount of work that goes into it. I am not "just" a cake decorator.

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercrissy

@Joemama - Preach it girl! These cakes are wrecks - minor & disappointing - but really, when put among those we have seen here over the years in comparison, not the wreckiest by far (although the Not-Death Star cake is up there!). Let us not blame the cog in the great grocery store churn-'em-out-as-fast-as-possible machine, but the coporations that display these impossible to replicate in the real world of grocery store bakerydome cake pictures. I am sure some of these were just lazy employees who just don't care. But some were probably just cases of too many cakes to decorate in too little time. At my store we have no limit on cake orders we take. If we get 58 cake orders for a Saturday, our two decorators have to decorate 58 cakes, period.
@Kay - Do you live in Arizona? ;)
@Sharyon - Giggle inducing as always! :0)

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMovieMom

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