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

Then vs Now: Wrecks Edition

I love - LOVE - old cake photos. Not the pretty magazine ones, of course, but the yellowing snapshots of children's birthday cakes from 20 or 30 years ago. They're a total blast from the past, and even when they're all lopsided and misspelled and ridiculously wrecky, you just can't help but love them.

Like Sarah's here, from the 80s:

It's a one-armed Care Bear, of course. Holding a pair of lips. Stomping on something that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike grass.


Compare that with today's Care Bear cakes, and you'll find we've come a looong way, baby:

Oh, how we've grown.


Of course, the only thing better than vintage cake photos are vintage cake photos with the birthday kids in them:

That's CW reader Amanda P. with her cousin Ryan, and she tells me no one noticed his "Ghostbusters"cake was misspelled until her mom uploaded this pic to Facebook ... 22 years later. THIS IS WHY THE INTERNET EXISTS, PEOPLE. To pick apart our childhood memories. And to make me jealous of 4-year-old boys' TMNT t-shirts.

(I also like to think Amanda is dressed as a sailor as a subtle Stay Puft homage, because, c'mon, how awesome would that be?!)


If you're wondering what you get today when you order a Ghostbusters cake, though:

Kristen's husband picked up this "Ghostbusters cake," but neither of them have an explanation.
(Maybe it's supposed to be Slimer? Maybe?)


Still debating if that's worse than this one, though:

YOU. We're ready to believe... YOU. C'mon, bakers, don't you have the entire script of Ghostbusters memorized like the rest of us? I mean, REALLY.


Ok, just one more, in reverse. Here's a "modern" Barbie doll cake:

Come for the ridiculous sinking Barbie, stay for the bonus crotch photo bomb.


And here's the way most of us gals remember them from our childhood:

Ok, so maybe we'll call this one a draw.


Thanks to Sarah R., Tina H., Amanda P., Kristen C., Tiffany G., Linda G., & Celeste R. for the memories.

PS - I'm really getting a kick out of comparing vintage cakes to the newer ones, so if you have some old snapshots of your childhood birthday cakes around - professional or not - then please, send them in! I won't promise not to make fun of them, but I do promise I'll do it with lots of love. And maybe some bad puns. So, you know, the usual way.

« The Far Side Of Cake, Vol. 5 | Main | Pumpkin Invasion »

Reader Comments (53)

Of the cakes we've left behind
Sneering, crotchbombed, YOU-less memories
Of the way......
Wrecks were.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSharyn

These are great, Jen -- well, the wayback machine o' cake pics -- not necessarily the cakes, themselves. I especially like the adorable pink favor cups in the last photo. That takes me back to my own childhood parties and going with my mom to select the decorations, favors, etc. (Yes, I'm old enough to have had those bangs, but mine were always crooked because my mom cut my hair.)

Some of my friends had the doll cakes, but I never really understood the appeal of hairy frosting or a goo-covered doll. Now, if someone head stuck a really cool Tonka truck in a cake...

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZippy

My Dad took movies of my older sister, my brother, and me on our birthdays when we were really young (like maybe between 3-5). (I believe the movies were the ancient 8mm reels.) The lights were so blindingly bright that we are all blinking like crazy, and it was hard for us to see! The candles would be blown out, then we'd taste the frosting before the cake was cut. Our favorite way to watch these movies was in reverse, because then we could watch ourselves taking frosting out of our mouths and smearing it back onto the cake. Thanks for triggering that memory for me!!

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

My little sister had a Barbie (well, Skipper) doll cake that caught fire. Skipper ended up looking like she had been scalped by smokey the bear. this was in the 1970's. I only wish I had a picture of the panic and terror that ensued at her party! :-)

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Jo

Our childhood cakes looked
better than today's. Is time
Flowing backwards now?

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Ah, Ghoustbusters! It was my favorite film back in the old country. I remember my Oompah used to say to me, "Met banbliksems tegen die van de hemel! Rivieren en zee├źn koken! Veertig jaar van duisternis! Aardbevingen, vulkanen! De dead rising uit het graf! Menselijke offer! Honden en katten, samenwonen! Massa hysterie! " and we'd laugh and we'd laugh.
Honden en katten, indeed.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuBee

The Care Bear on the first cake is the Lip Delivery Care Bear. He gives lip service.
(I'm surprised the flowers on the cake aren't two-lips....)

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermel

The only picture I think still exists of me and a cake is 9-year-old me and a bunch of bosom friends I don't know the names of now and an alligator cake my mom made herself. She had a regular rectangular cake for the body and a square cut into two triangles for the open mouth. The teeth were candy corn. I don't remember how she made the eye. At the time I thought it was awesome, but, then, I was nine. My mom has the photo about 900 miles away. I'll have to ask her for it at the next family get-together, as she is technologically-challenged, and refuses to even try.

Also, "sailor" is not spelled like that. That is all.

[Editor's note- Thanks, Sara! I totally missed that one. -john (thoJ)]

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSaraCVT

Some things never change
Ghosts, Barbies and Bears, O my
Wreckies reminisce
Wrecks and reactions, ageless
Internet: the new scrapbook

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTanka

@Jamie Jo:
Oh, how scary!! That must have been horrible! It's very understandable that no one thought to record it for posterity; it doesn't exactly sound like one of those "Kodak moments"... ! Yikes...but at least no one was hurt, right?

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

I'll be honest. I was thinking I was an automaton for a while because I haven't been laughing out loud for the last couple of weeks when coming to this blog. But *whew* luckily I saw that last photo with that priceless look on the birthday girl's face.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKatja

Okay, I get why the modern Care Bear on the right has a mane - He's supposed to be (trying to be???) Braveheart Lion, the leader of the Care Bear cousins; what i don't get is:

a) Why Cheer Bear has a mane

and (possibly even more troublingly)

b) Why it seems that her ears are in fact boobs

I don't remember either of these from the TV show, movies, stuffed animals, lunch box, or bed sheets I had as a kid...

@ Sharyn: Brava! I totally heard Barbara Streisand while reading your lyrics. Your version is much better :)

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

So when looking at this site with my almost 3 year old, I asked her what she thought the first cake was. She went back and forth between a dinosaur and a horse. Hahah I love it!

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusie

Are you sure the first one isn't supposed to be Barney?

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoel Polowin

My grandmother (mom's mother) was a WONDERFUL cake decorator, among her many talents, so we always had very special cakes when we were little. And yes, I still have the yellowing photos of them, with me and my cousins standing around; then later, my brother, who was born 1 day before my 5th birthday. I believe my favorites were the bunny cake for my 4th birthday, and the multi-tiered "wedding cake" for my 5th birthday. She died the year after that, so no more wonderful cakes from her.

That 5th birthday was a banner year. My grandparents had come to stay with us while my mother was in the hospital with my brother. My grandma took me shopping for toys in a big local department store. I got THREE TOYS instead of one. I was so excited, I threw up in the toy department. Yes, it was a banner year!

BTW, this grandmother also sewed EVERYTHING -- she made clothes and lingerie and swimsuits for all us grandkids. She also was a ceramacist and had her own kiln in her basement.

Now, about that Barbie cake: Barbie looks like a bridge who's gone to the bathroom and is working the logistics of managing her dress around the toilet, and someone caught her pooping. Either that, or she's meelllltting. . . .

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTLC

The eyes in the second cake....... they're watching me. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen

We were going through a bunch of my mom's stuff and I found cakes from my childhood birthdays. I'm totally scanning and sending a couple of them! Thanks for the giggles and reminders of great memories this morning!

@mel ~ I figured it wouldn't take long for someone in this bunch to go there. Somehow I'm not surprised it was you first ;-)

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJodee

The last one looks like the Salem Witch Trials.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTor2ga

On that second Care Bear cake I busted up laughing... I thought those "ears" as someone pointed out, were actually supposed to be eyes. I was laughing because I thought, "Why in the heck would they put a face and EYES on the thing?!" Zombie eyes, in fact! Then I thought, "Well, why do they any of the crazy things they do", and went on to the next cake. So, thanks to this site, I have become extremely cynical, cakewise.

PS As usual, this site had me laughing, both the post and the comments! I love this place! Whoever skips reading the comments, is missing out!

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

The birthday girl's face in that last photo pretty much says exactly what we all were thinking.

The crotch-bomb photo made me laugh like a 12-year old.

Amanda P., how cute is she! I think my little brother had that exact same shirt. The TMNT shirt, not the sailor shirt. Although, I believe my mother bought The Firstborn a sailor outfit very similar to Amanda P.'s. He wore it exactly once; the day he visited with Grammy.

The modern pink Care Bear cake has tentacles for feet. See the little suckers? Or perhaps she/he/it (sorry, the only bear show I watched was Gummi Bears) has ringworm.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJust Andrea

I'm glad that guy wasn't wearing shorts.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaisie

I wish I had gotten a Ghostbusters cake when I turned 30...only maybe a bit less wrecky. Yeah, definitely less wrecky.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

It wasn't until reading the comments that I realized the Care Bear faces/ears were plastic also. I just thought they had REALLY dialated eyes, and a weird looking nose.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSaraV

How far we've come.. Sharyn :D

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermindy1

I saw the misspelling on the first cake right away! lol But for that, it wasn't a bad looking cake at all.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoJo

@TLC, it seems your grandmother may have been given the same prescription that my mother got in the 50s. Speed was often prescribed for weight loss back in the day.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteressjaytee

Are we sure Cake #1 wasn't meant to be a giant, 2-legged, pink rhinoceros crushing every sign of civilization in its wake?

On Cake #2, the Care Bear flotsam where the nose should be is a nice touch.

When you think about it, these wreckerators must have a healthy self-esteem considering they allow these to be displayed and sold. So they've got that going for them.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Majorette profile:
No uniform except the
Rainbow cumberbund.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHaiku Joy

"Holding a pair of lips." Hilarious. I love you.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

The "slimer" cake?... I thought it meant "no pickles".

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathan

Poor Cheer Bear. She looks like she got into a horrible accident that took off her arm. Now I want to go watch Ghoustbusters.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

"Almost, but not quite, entirely unlike grass"..... Thanks for paraphrasing my FAVORITE Hitchhiker's Guide quote EVER!

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeneric

Another one of Elvis's previously unknown love children in that last one! She appreciated the effort, though. She's saying, "thank you. Thank you very much."

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpikkewyntjie

I think I need a Ghoust Busters cake. Just saying.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay

That sneer in the retro Barbie cake can only mean 2 things. 1) She was thinking, "What the H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS is THAT?" or 2) It was an early warning to partygoers that spit covered cake was for desert.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMitsuiSan

When we were little, our mom made my twin brother and I a hamburger cake, that I'm pretty sure came straight off the pages of Women's Day magazine. It had marshmallow eyes, and frosting lettuce, which is, of course, way better than iceberg! That cake was awesome because she made it for us.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVeronica L

Good, SuBee! That's the BEST!

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Dash

The little girl's expression in the last photo pretty much says it all...

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNerfbomb

At least the ghost on Ryan's cake was awesome. Maybe the script was done by an ex-pat Brit??

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Anne

@SuBee, strangely enough I understood your comment - I had a Dutch Oma too :)

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAudrey

@essjaytee: No, Grandma wasn't on speed. She raised 6 kids, and she was just very creative and just a bit bored living in a farm right outside a town with a population of 60. I have often wondered what she would be like, and what she would have accomplished, if she had been born 70 years later into a time when women had more options.

Typo: Barbie looks like a bride, not a bridge.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTLC

Lol I think the cakes from way back when look a lot better than they do now. I had a Wonder Woman cake when I was five that looks pretty good. I will have to hunt the pic down. I too had the doll in a cake but fortunately she didn't catch fire. I just had to take the naked doll home with me when we were done.. which was rather embarrassing for a sixteen year old. I hid her away.. far away.

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArlene

I thought the first cake was an homage to My Little Pony and she/it is holding a magic wand (isn't that what their aim in life is - to collect wands?)...
I recall a photograph similar to the last one, but my sister was eating corn on the cob and found "something". Corn isn't cake, right?

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Huxtable

"Come for the ridiculous sinking Barbie, stay for the bonus crotch photo bomb."

Holy cats, that caption made me laugh so hard, I totally shnorked AND woke up the Pug! Cheers!

Your Pal,


September 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStorm

No, sendingtheclowns, no one other than Skipper was harmed in the flaming of the cake. of course, us older sisters and cousins were laughing to hard to put out the cake so we were given the partially singed portions. we STILL bring that cake up and laugh ourselves silly over the memory. good times were had, and that was 40 years ago. funny but it's the wrecks we remember the fondest, NOT the beautiful successful cakes of our lives.

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie Jo

Why does the pink CareBear in the second pic have boobs on her forehead?

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMegDropSoup

I agree with Jeneric!

"Almost, but not quite, entirely unlike grass" is great! Thanks!

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

@Jamie Jo-Well, that makes TOTAL sense! Laughing IS the best thing for--well, EVERYTHING. And the times one laughs with others, (especially really hard) do seem to be the most-remembered; it just feels SO good!

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersendingtheclowns

OK, it is just me, or is anyone else feeling a little bit creakier after hearing Jen refer to the 80's as the "olden times"?

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjackwire

@jackwire: Right there with ya. Although, whenever someone tells me they were born in the 80's or were in elementary school in the 80's I think to myself, "They're just a baby!". Turn about is fair play, and all that.

September 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJust Andrea

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