Home Home Home Home Home Home Home


Olive oil coconut macaroons


Unicorn Love: the Eating Disorder Recovery Blog


 Buy my brilliant books!

Buy my new book!

Buy my first book, too! 

CakeSpy Online Retail!



Fantastic appliance for cake making on DHgate.com


Craftsy Writer
« CakeSpy Undercover: Chuck's Donuts in Renton, WA | Main | Cake Byte: CakeSpy for All-Mighty! »

A Sweet Love Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken: Store-Bought Cakes

Photo c/o Flickr User gearys
No matter how many gorgeous homemade cakes I try, no matter how many fancy pastries I sample, I will always have a lingering love for grocery store-bought birthday cake. 
I'm not talking about a fancy cake that you might buy at the bakery of an upscale store like Whole Foods. No. I am talking about the garishly frosted, probably not trans fat-free, gonna-leave-a-greasy-slick-on-your-tongue, packed in a plastic cake cover type of store bought cake that you'd see at national grocery store chains.
Grocery Store cakes: I love them.
Now, I realize that on so many levels, they are an inferior product. They are not made with the care that goes into the cakes at most retail bakeries, nor are they made with the same caliber of ingredients. They don't look or taste as good.
Burger Cake

And yet--in spite of these powerful arguments against them--sometimes nothing else will do. So what gives? 

Is it Nostalgia? Perhaps it can be blamed on growing up in the suburbs, where for every birthday party with a homemade cake, there were probably four with store-bought cakes? Perhaps somewhere in that combination of bright frosting in colors never found in nature, that inch-and-a-half slick of waxy-sweet frosting, and soft and spongy cake, it's all about trying to conjure up a simpler and sweeter time in life?

Cupcake Cake at QFC
Or is it Simply Bad Taste? Or are these cakes like the relationship that you know is toxic but you just can't give up, because even while it's so bad, it's also so good? Is confessing a love of store-bought cake simply admitting that deep down, you've got bad (not to mention unrefined) taste?

Or perhaps it's a bit of both: sweet nostalgia and trashy taste? While I can't answer it definitively, I can say one thing for sure: grocery store-bought cake, I just can't quit you (and I don't want to, either).

What about you? Do you have a soft spot in your heart for store-bought cakes, or is CakeSpy simply guilty of bad taste?


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (42)

Sometimes, you just need some crappy store bought cake in your life. I don't look at you any different, haha.

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterJudy

Did I write this? <3

I, too, have a soft spot for these cakes. I rarely have them now, although we came close with two Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes at a farewell party last week. I can still taste the red frosting. No - it was not red frosting, but white frosting airbrushed with some design with whatever they use to airbrush cakes. I like the sweet cloudlike softness of the cake, the abundance of frosting.

Then there are the whipped-cream-and-fresh-fruit cakes you get from Chinese bakeries, filled with the improbable combination of cream and cantaloupe or honeydew. (Even better are the mango ones, with a layers of mango slices set in jelly). Man, I love those cakes. I can never get enough.

August 5 | Unregistered Commenterkairu

Judy: Thanks for the validation!

Leslie: Haha! See you in the Safeway Bakery Aisle! (wink)

Kairu, it is so funny that you mentioned the Chinese bakeries because it was when I was walking by Mon Hei Bakery in the International District today that I really started thinking about how perfect they looked, which got me to thinking about grocery store cakes, which led to this writeup! ;-)

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

I also love store bought cakes. I hardly ever buy them, but like Kairu, I have a soft spot for the Baskin-Robbins ice-cream cakes (Trader Joe's has their own version now, too!) Even though they aren't the quality of an upscale bakery they still have a way of making your mouth water. Maybe the "love" isn't baked in like a homemade cake but I still feel like I'm helping to secure the bakers' jobs!

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterSuki

Man, this is one of my guilty pleasures. I'll never turn my nose up at a store-bought cake! They're so bad, they're good - if you know what I mean. And the icing (made with el cheapo shortening) is disgusting but awesome at the same time. It's the sin of it all that makes it so...so...sinful...

How did they pipe those flower petals on the cupcake flower cake, I wonder? I love it! Looks like nothing that would be on cakewrecks.com, haha...

August 5 | Unregistered Commenterjune2

I am SO with you!! I get one ONCE a year on my birthday. My ONLY favorite is Vanilla cake with vanilla BUTT-R-CREAM (as they call it on the tag). It is OH SO TASTY. I don't care WHAT'S in it. It's MY birthday.

Love your blog!!

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterRetro Bakery

i took a cake decorating class last month and had to make all the wilton recipe shortening icing--no matter how many from-scratch cakes i bake or fancy icing combinations i do, all my husband wants is a white cake from a mix with white icing. he calls it "wedding cake" as in "are you going to make real wedding cake this time?" cracks me up.

August 5 | Unregistered Commentersarahe

I have an unexplained weakness for Denny's carrot cake. Disgusting, I know. But oh so yummy!

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Nguyen

Yepp, I have a soft spot in my heart for the grocery store cake. I know it's wrong, but it feels so right :D

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterBentoForKidlet

No, I really do hate those cakes. I have a soft spoke for poorly decorated cakes made from a box and a can of frosting, plus more candles than necessary. Preferably in a 9 x 13 baking pan. Those were my childhood cakes!

Oh and those sheets of nonpareil letters or whatever they were. Like candy buttons!

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Soft spot, not spoke.

I'm going to also add that I equally dislike store bought pie. Those are just sad. I always thought my grocery store bakery smells like hot crisco. Sad.

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I think I can deal with the cake part, just not the frosting. Like, if there's cake at someone's house or at an event I'll still get pretty excited about the improbably fluffy, totally from-a-mix cake, but I just can't take the shortening frosting.

But I guess it's what you grow up with, because I still LOVE Asian bakeries, which are dirt cheap and so totally far from the artisinal, rich, organic desserts I usually make and buy. I think because they're more cake focused? Most cakes are paired with a whipped cream/gelatin/fruit mousse, or just whipped cream. And the flavors are very light and not super sweet. I don't know, that's the only time I'll cop to trashy bakery cravings. Give me that plastic tray and I'll pile it high with plastic-wrapped buns and cakes, but put me at a Safeway counter and I'll just make icky faces.

August 5 | Unregistered CommenterMB

Oh, yes, I know that tainted love very well. In fact, I've passed that on to my daughter, although she's quick to say, "You're cakes are better, but I'm really in the mood for a Marsh cake." HA!

Oh yes!!! For me, it's not about the taste or appearance of a store bought cake, just the sheer delight in being able to buy one that my son can eat.

You see, for the first 8 years of his life, my son was allergic to eggs. I made every piece of food that crossed his lips, every little cupcake that he brought with to a birthday party so that he could have a treat along with his friends.

Well, he finally outgrew that particular allergy. What did he request for his birthday? "Mom, I want a /store-bought/ cake."

Music to a mother's ears.

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterJori M

I think everyone loves grocery store cake. It's just so sweet. My boss brings in cakes for everyone's birthday and it's always store bought. It's a nice break every once and a while!

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Store-Bought cakes are beautiful like a pair of shoes covered in sequins. Not to everyone's taste, but those that love them are special.

I demand colorful cupcakes airbrushed with gaudy colors yearly. Sometimes nothing else will do.

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterMissSpite

Even though my mom was an amazing home (from scratch) cook, I always loved trashy store-bought cakes the best! In university, my roomie and I bought these with our cafeteria "dollars" and ate them through the weekend. Yikes. Haven't had one in over a decade, but still miss that crappy shortening-based frosting!

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

Everyone knows I have a deep profound love for trashy foods but the store bought cake is no longer part of it.

It's the frosting that kills me, could be that the nostalgia factor is not there for me. I wasn't allowed sweets while I lived in the US and then in Brazil cakes we're very different.

Maybe if I could deep fry it!!! LOL

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterMartha

Ah Jessie... I am SO hearting you right now. As an aspiring baker who uses the best possible ingredients... I too have the love for store-bought. I don't know what it is either? But every now and then, like you said, nothing else will do! I'll saunter back to the Safeway bakery, looking around to see if anyone is watching, and casually pass by those glistening clam-shell plastic containers. Club Card members save 20¢?!! SOLD! I always go for the white cake. I think its Klassyier.

If bein' trashy is part of the motivation then the next time you see me I may have to be sporting a pair of denim cut-off daisy dukes. Or a pair of mom jeans & a wolf t-shirt. Just warning you. ;)

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterUncle Beefy

Two words: Pepperidge Farms! Something about these cakes is addictive - maybe the creamy frosting, maybe the ice cold cake that melts in your mouth. Whatever it is, it's worth the shame of pulling it out of the box and it being instantly recognizable for it's preform icing design and missing piece of icing on one side. Whatever the store-bought obsession, Cake On!!

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Yes, yes I do. I don't know why, but I have to walk by and look at them every time I grocery shop. They've never tasted that great to me, it's just nostalgia I guess.

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterMeagan

I have such a weakness for grocery store cakes as well! There's something amazingly delicious about that super sugary, overly buttery/greasy frosting, it's so good.
Maybe I just have trashy taste!

I agree! It's a bit of both. Nostalgia and trashy taste. Growing up (and even now) I always wanted a Safeway cake. White on white. Strange but true!

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.
© Cakespy, all rights reserved. Powered by Squarespace.