Cake Wrecks: Interview with Jen Yates

Take cakes that are so bad they're good, mix in a great sense of humor and what do you get? A madly popular blog phenomenon, and now, a book as well! Jen Yates, the founder of Cake Wrecks, one of my all time favorite blogs, has graciously agreed to do an interview about cakes, the universe and everything.

But first: the book. As I'm sure you all probably already know or can guess, Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong is obviously about cake carnage. It chronicles some of the weirdest, silliest, creepiest and downright fugliest cakes ever made professionally (in order to be featured in the book and blog, each cake has to be made by a professional baker). There are over 150 cake wrecks included (3/4 of them never-before-seen material).

But there's something very subtle about the book that made me appreciate Jen and Cake Wrecks even more. This is something I came to realize only after I read the advance copy of the book (I know, I know, the perks of being a famous blogger). Cake Wrecks is actually the celebration of having a bad cake. It's an homage to Murphy's Law asserting itself over flour, sugar, egg and shortening mixed together
and popped in the oven.

Think about it: how many birthday parties have you gone to and not remember a whit of what happened? Now, if you had one where the cake was horribly wrong (but still very yummy) - wouldn't that stick in your memory forever? (I can imagine the conversation - Q: "Hey, remember that party with the foot cake?" A: "Yeah ... good times!")

'Nuff said. Let's get on with the interview:

Neatorama: Before we talk about cakes, I'm curious about what you wrote for the "About the Author" portion of Cake Wrecks, and I quote "Jen has been a clown, a cash office accountant, a Jungle Cruise skipper, a business owner, a children's book inventory expeditor, and a house painter."

Now, if you don't mind - a clown? Really? What's that like? Did you come up with your own Jungle Cruise skipper jokes? And just what the heck is a children's book inventory expeditor? Sounds like a smuggling ops.

Jen Yates: Hah! Yes, I do have some interesting "work" experience. Ok, let's see...being a clown? That can be surprisingly difficult, on account of your not being allowed to retaliate while being kicked in the shins by a horde of candy-seeking 9-year-olds. Heheh. Other than that it was a blast, though. I learned to juggle, make balloon animals, and perform funny skits. This was during my teens, so that's also where I first learned public speaking skills, believe it or not. We visited hospitals, shelters, expos, churches, you name it.

Jungle Cruise was also fabulous, and yes, we got to ad lib a bit. That's where my love of puns truly blossomed. There's this crashed plane on the ride, and I made a game of fitting as many plane puns as possible into the few seconds we had before it passed out of sight. (I think I got up to 8 or 9.) I wasn't happy until the whole boat was groaning in agony.

My other jobs were less glamorous. The expeditor gig? That was me in a cubicle calling various national warehouses to see if their shipment had arrived yet. Lots of spreadsheets. :)

Neatorama: What's the very first cake that got you thinking of creating Cake Wrecks - the cake that started it all?

The cake that started it all

Jen: Yes, that cake really and truly DID start it all. My friend Abby e-mailed it to me, and the idea for Cake Wrecks just hit me. I think I started the blog that very night, just for fun.

Neatorama: What's your favorite cake wrecks?

Jen: My favorites are usually the ones with the communication breakdowns. The literal stuff like the Under Neat that cake, and then the garbled phone order ones.

Cake submitted by Elizabeth R.

Remember the flash drive cake? That's the one where the customer wanted a photo cake, and so brought in the picture they wanted on a portable thumb drive for the bakery to print out. Instead, the bakery drew an exact replica of the flash drive on the cake! Heh, I LOVE stories like that.

Neatorama: Let's see some geek cred - what are the geekiest cake wrecks you've ever gotten?

Jen: Game console cakes are really popular, especially for grooms cakes, and I've seen some doosies:

Cake submitted by Monique B.

Cake submitted by Diane B.

Here are a few more geeky Wrecks:

Cake submitted by Maggie G.

Cake submitted by Kelly J.

Cake submitted by Gretchen W. (That's supposed to be Luigi, believe it or not)

And this one's not a Wreck, but I thought it was funny:

Cake submitted by Amy L.

I *think* that says happy birthday in binary. Am I right?


Jen has kind enough to offer a free copy of the book for a giveaway - got any question for Jen? A lucky commenter with the most interesting question will win the book (I'll post Jen's reply as an update).

More wrecktastic blogger interviews with Jen Yates about her new book:

Links: Cake Wrecks | The Book at Amazon: Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong

Update 10/3/09 - Jen has picked the question to answer. Find out more here: Link

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Always enjoy the cake wrecks site. Do I have to have a question?

Let's see... There seem to be a lot of amateurish and poorly-done cakes. Do you think most cake wrecks go unreported? Do people just try to forget about them, or do they always remember that one really bad cake?
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Love your site! How many people ask you about some of the geek comments 'the answer is 42' springs to mind, or do your fans just assume your making butter rum frosting?
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