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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?


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Reader Comments (42)

It's both! It brings back memories of going to birthday parties with 30 other kids and pigging out on it. There's just something about it. When I was a kid I never got one but I loved to look at them in the store. My mom always make me yellow cake w/ chocolate frosting which was wayyyy better but it just wasn't the same *shrugs* maybe they put crack in it?

August 6 | Unregistered CommenterMellz

oh yes, i used to buy the cake slices that safeway offered much more often, and still sometimes do when they're on sale. its such a joy just to wander through the cake aisles in the grocery store looking at all those designs and knowing that frosting will be oh so sweet and grainy, just the way i like it!

August 6 | Unregistered Commenterstefanie

supermarket cakes always remind me of being a kid for sure... dreaming about those brightly frosted roses atop white frosting and classic shell borders and the white cake inside while being pushed around in a buggy, or just staring in awe. i still love the look of them for their nostalgia and kitsch factor. i can taste it now even... i wouldn't turn it down if someone sliced me off a haphazard and hastily cut chunk!!

the stem on the last cupcake cake's flower looks like an alien's neck!!! ughhh!!!!

August 7 | Unregistered Commenterlyndsay

Never did get a store-bought birthday cake for my birthday - if I recall correctly, it was usually an angel food cake, or a 2 layer cake from a box mix. "everyday" cakes were left in the 9x13 pan. Oh well, I guess living on a farm and having a pony made up for that.


August 7 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

forgot to say - I do love store-bought cakes for the frosting. Especially the goopy frosting flowers!


August 7 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Just like eating a Little Debbie Twinkie or Ding Dong. The fake foods must have some addicting drug in them that makes you crave them every so often. It's not nostalgic thing for me, we didn't eat that stuff growing up. Store bought cake with whipped cream icing MMMMM! I think I'll have some tomorrow - YAY!

August 7 | Unregistered CommenterLaufa

If we're letting our hair down then I'll admit to my secret love of cake mix cakes. School bakesale, here I come!

August 7 | Unregistered Commenterkitchenwitch

Ahhh the memories of store bought cake. I remember when I was little I had a cake done in a zoo theme and then got to save the little figures on the top. That was the best part as a kid. Getting the keep and play with the decorations:) I was also really happy when store bought cakes started giving you the option of the thick sweet frosting or the less sweet whipped frosting. I always went with the whipped...yum!

August 7 | Unregistered CommenterNutmeg Nanny

Jessie, really?????? Really really really? Store-booooooughhhhtttht birthday cake?????????

August 7 | Unregistered CommenterNurit

i can't remember the last time i baked a cake from a box but costco cake is still my favorite!!!!!!!!!!!


August 8 | Unregistered Commenterlinda

OMG!! through all the great pound cakes and other dreamy homemade cakes for a birthday- i still gotta have a white birthday cake with the greasy butter cream frosting. don't hold back on the flowers!

August 8 | Unregistered Commentershenava2

Actually the first time I read this post I didn't realize the flower cake was actually cupcakes. I was too blinded by the bright pink petals, distracted by the purple butterfly, the disgusting looking stem of frosting.

I thought of you the other night, and this post, when we went to a friend's birthday party and there was a Chinatown birthday cake, coffee-flavored cake, not too sweet, layered with vanilla custard and barely sweetened whipped cream, decorated, of course, with slices of cantaloupe.

August 8 | Unregistered Commenterkairu

I'm guilty...sometimes I crave the grocery store bakery cake...I can't tell you how many times I'm in ShopRite and have to stop myself from buying a little cake:) Publix has the best in Florida! And I have to have an end piece so I can get extra frosting!

August 10 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

agreed. for me it is that sugary, sugary frosting that leaves me satisfied. like I know I just ate a piece of CAKE. for reals.

August 10 | Unregistered Commenterlauren haupt

Oh man, I have a family member that always gets these from the grocery store for her kids' birthdays. I remember I always wanted the piece with the most frosting when I was a kid. We'd fight over the balloon or the corner piece or the huge flower. Now, I take a center piece and still scrape most of the frosting. I do love that fake fruit flavored filling though!

August 11 | Unregistered CommenterDeanna

Ew, that cheeseburger cake looks disgusting. But I'm sure it's sugary goodness!

August 15 | Unregistered Commenterjamieofalltrades

I own a bakery and still crave the store bought cakes. I was never allowed them in my childhood, because we owned a bakery then too, and my grandmother was an amazing cake decorator, and my mom an amazing baker. I *hated* the real butter buttercream and fresh fruit jam and all that. I wanted Safeway cake! Airbrushing! Inch-thick icing! A wedding cake with a fountain and fancy staircase!
Now I sometimes buy a box of brownie mix and secretly make it at home, when I'm alone. Yummy!

August 17 | Unregistered CommenterKay
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