When Jen Yates began posting photos of cakes gone wrong at cakewrecks.blogspot.com in May 2008, it was mostly for her own amusement—“an outlet for my snarky side,” she says. Visitors were few and far between at first, but within months the blog found an audience of “wrecktators,” and today it’s a full-time job for Yates, 31, who lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband of 11 years. In fact, Cake Wrecks has already spawned a best-selling book (“Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong,” Andrews McMeel Publishing), which features dozens of fan favorites, as well as lots of never-before-seen “wreckage.”
Failure interviewed Yates about the blog, the book, and her all-time favorite cake wreck.
How did you get the idea for Cake Wrecks?
The cake that started it all is on the cover of the book. Somebody emailed me that picture, and having just finished cake decorating classes at a local craft store, I wondered if I could find more funny cake photos and post them on a blog. From the moment I got the email to the time I started Cake Wrecks was like an hour. It was just something to do when I was bored one evening.
What makes a cake wreck?
A cake wreck is in the eye of the beholder, and since it’s my blog, it’s anything that makes me laugh. That includes cakes that are well done, but still funny … like a big foot with an oozing toenail. I don’t choose [from reader submissions] based on which cakes look the worst, I choose the ones that make me laugh the hardest. I get some submissions that are a train wreck on a plate, but they are not necessarily funny. I’m not about shaming bakeries. My goal is to have some light-hearted fun.
Do you have a favorite cake wreck?
I love the misunderstanding types, where there was some breakdown in communication during the ordering process. One of my favorites is the JumpDrive cake. A boss was retiring and the office wanted to get him a photo cake, so they brought his picture to the bakery on a [Lexar] JumpDrive. But when they went to pick up the cake they discovered a lovingly re-created JumpDrive on the cake instead of the picture. The best part is that when the baker offered to fix it they said, “No, we’ll take it as is,” because it was so funny.
Another classic is the “no sexual harassment” cake. What’s the story behind that one?
It was ordered for a sexual harassment seminar, and submitted by an employee at the company in question, who said that his boss got in a lot of trouble for it and almost lost his job. I’m still astounded at the collaboration between boss and baker. When he went in and placed the order do you think he said, “Let’s illustrate sexual harassment.” And if so, did they go over poses?
Do you have a favorite cake? To eat, I mean.
I love every kind but I really like strawberry cake. I’m also a sucker for good old-fashioned butter-cream icing. Good stuff.