No Piece of Cake: The Bakery Shop Horror

Just in the nick of Back-to-School time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued new rules which ban most sugary, greasy, and salty snacks in schools. I’m certain the presence of these snacks is the prime reason American children have fallen so far behind in education compared to their foreign peers such as in China where, according to Forbes Magazine, children eat more nutritious meals like Kentucky Fried Chicken.

No sooner did the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the school snack ban, then the Metropoulos & Company company announced it’s putting Hostess Twinkies, Cupcakes, Dingdongs and all the other Hostess products back on the grocery shelves beginning July 15!  This mercenary action by Metropoulos was even more offensive since July 15 fell on one of the most important events of the year, Cow Appreciation Day. (Woodstock, VT)

When my sons were small, I did my best to limit their exposure to sweets and particularly cake, which is the most dangerous snack of all. Cakes (like Twinkies) contain flour, sugar, salt, fat, baking soda and—– to create the soft and fluffy cakes that bounce back when you press on them—-  polyurethane foam, found in most mattresses unless you order cake at a four-star restaurant where the gourmet cakes contain viscoelastic foam, i.e. TempurPedic foam.

Researchers know that cake-eating over the decades leads to premature insanity. Even exposure to cakes can have this effect.  Recently, the mother of an Indiana University graduate ordered a cake with the young woman’s photo as decoration, including a graduation CAP (the mortar board) in icing. When the cake was delivered with the photo decoration, instead of a CAP, mistakenly atop the young woman’s head was a CAT—pink nose, white whiskers. This is what occurs in bakeries from breathing cake fumes.

When my sons were four and five, I was unaware of the dangers of Cake Scent. One day I brought them along with me to an upscale local bakery called Delices to test out the desserts. Now in those early parenting years, I had occasionally seen frolicking, antsy or rabid children followed by exhausted mothers holding the kids on a leash, which shocked and appalled me. But that day at Delices Bakery, I’d regretfully left the boys’ leashes at home.

From the moment we entered the bakery I was dismayed at the large crowd which I surmised was due to the lunch hour. Equally disappointing was the lack of baked goods behind the glass shelves. There were a couple of plates of nondescript cookies and maybe one or two non-chocolate* cakes.  (*The latter a clear Restaurant Inspection Violation and a prime reason for being omitted from the Zagat Guide.)

That was it. The only other cake in the place was an awe-inspiring floor-to-ceiling white frosted multiple-tiered wedding cake that stood in the corner of the bakery. I wondered if it was real.

I selected one of three long lines and stood at the end behind dark suited men and women on their lunch hours. I thought I was the only non-employed person except for one very pregnant woman wearing a white blouse and red skirt who stood parallel to me in an adjacent line. My four year old watched her, transfixed, as our lines crawled toward the glass shelves in front.

For several minutes I studied from a distance the mostly empty glass cases, uncertain what there was to order. As I glanced over at my five year old to ask his preference, a bloodcurdling scream cut through the lively chatter in the bakery. Instantly all conversations ceased. I had an instant stomach-churning premonition—a psychic power that evolves from having sons—-that the scream was related to me.

At that moment one of the clerks behind the glass case ran the entire length of the counter, shot out from behind the glass shelves and sprang over to the floor-to-ceiling white wedding cake where a little boy, misleadingly WASP-appearing with blonde hair and blue eyes, stood munching on a brick-size slab of white cake clutched in his fist. A wedding cake that only moments before stood tall and stately was now brought low by a swipe from The Unseen Claw that hollowed out a crater in the bottom tier.

Rather than seizing the young perpetrator, the breathless agitated clerk lifted and turned the white monolith around so the new cake-hole was hidden, facing the wall.

There are those moments that require life-altering decisions: In this case, does one immediately apologize to the counter staff? Offer to pay for the cropped cake? Have the child apologize for his actions? Review with the child his ethical duty to make amends? Or most important, stay put rather than lose one’s place in line?

The issue was immediately solved, my honor intact: I bribed the man ahead of me in line to hold my place while I sprinted over to where I’d last seen the four year old. But the culprit had disappeared into the crowd. When I was back in line—I’m no fool—- I spotted him weaving through the crowds until he approached me and stopped, clearly motivated that I was next in line to be served.

As I reached out to seize his hand (the one without icing and crumbs), a phenomenon occurred that American physicists have yet to explain.  In a burst of speed (an estimated 186,000 miles per second), the four year old was suddenly standing alongside the exceedingly pregnant woman in the adjacent row, where he immediately scooped up her red skirt high enough to reveal the exposed space beneath that could fit, if not a clown car, at least a several short performers from Cirque du Soleil. For his performance, an estimated 60 people in the bakery were easily able to evaluate (among other things) the substantial bulge that had been stored under her skirt.

When the commotion ceased, I found myself standing before three sets of glaring eyes behind the counter. Mustering what remained of my dignity, I placed my order. I was, after all, a paying customer.

“I’ll have one cookie,” I said in a soft voice that channeled Minnie Mouse.

Years later I was relieved when the bakery closed, since it stood as a symbol of either My Parental Failure or worse, No Observable Chocolate Desserts.

But my warnings of the dangers of Cake Scent and cake-making-leading-to-premature-insanity are still valid.

Case in point:  The James Skinner Baking Company has set up shop in Paris, Texas thanks to the Texas Enterprise Fund and Governor Rick Perry. The Skinner Baking Company supplies more than 200 million pastries and baked goods per year.

Cakes. Texas. Insanity.

Are there any questions, class?

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8 responses to “No Piece of Cake: The Bakery Shop Horror

  1. Razor sharp!

    • Bill, you are probably one of my greatest fans. From past remarks, however, as well as today’s, I notice you often reference razors. This is a disturbing pattern. Will you please check your thesaurus for a synonym?
      XXXX Tygerpen

  2. Great as always!

    • Thank you, S. The post-script to this story is that years later (when I thought they’d forgotten the incidents and removed the “Do Not Serve Her” poster), I did order several chocolate cakes. I believe they still had a large corner cake but that it was a facsimile of the former white wedding cake. Or possibly, if they used enough polyurethane foam in the original cake (including, presumably, the patched hole), it WAS the same cake. I suppose only Andy would’ve known the difference.
      XXXXX Tygerpen

  3. Judith Moorman

    I refuse to stop eating cake despite this cautionary tale. I hope I’ll enjoy my next slice as much as I did your blog, Trudi!

    • J, I appreciate your weighing the risks and benefits of cake-eating.
      I think it would behoove you (if you need behooving, a painless procedure) to take your love of cakes and travel to the state of Maryland. That State (where the motto is Sic Semper Tyrannis, “Always Sic the Tyrannosaurus”) is proud of its official State Dessert–the Smith Island Cake. (True.) Smith Island was discovered by the Captain John Smith, of Pocahontas fame, but the island is named for another well-known person, Henry Island.
      XXXX T

  4. Ha Ha! Great blog, Trudi!

    • C, it is not polite to laugh in the Comments section. (O.k. if you covered your mouth.) I am so pleased you enjoyed the column! I was also relieved that as a writer you did not use this forum to write how there were ALWAYS chocolate cakes in the glass cases whenever you were at Delices, that you NEVER had to stand in line, that pregnant women didn’t flash the customers when you were there, etc. The REASON none of these things occurred, Carol, is because you did not go with Andy (the four year old, now 26). Andy is a lightning rod for the unexpected, i.e. disasters. When he was 16, for example, he put miniature finger cuffs (like handcuffs) on me as a gag.
      We had to go together to Bowman’s Locks to get them removed, which earned us raised eyebrows and evil grins from the staff.

      I learned it’s best for Andy not to use his hands.
      XXXX T

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