It’s rare that I’m stuck for words but this time I was speechless. To quote Sienfelds’s George, “I was without speech.”
There seems to be a craze in the young mother stratum of the USA for something called a Cake Smash. In brief, at their first birthday party, children are given, all to themselves, a small cake, placed centre stage which they are encouraged to “smash”, tear apart, lunge into, smear over clothing and eat. Meanwhile, adults coo, take pictures and laugh indulgently.
I have to assume that this is for the amusement of the adults because no child will fully understand what’s going on, apart from sometimes it’s naughty to play with your food and sometimes it's not.
This little exercise of course engenders a host of marketing opportunities. There are special outfits for children to smash in, special little cakes to be ordered. (It’s strongly recommended to have a nice soft sponge that’s easily broken and to stay away from fondant icing that can become firm, hard to smash and difficult to smear around the face and clothing. It’s also recommended that one avoid chocolate and berry sauces, the colours of which can suggest unpleasant bodily situations.)
Then there’s the professional photography to take into consideration. Photographs can be snapped during the event, but it’s also recommended that a separate photographic session take place at another, quieter time, when the stage can be set and the child "emotionally prepared" for the event.
One “Professional Cake Smash Planner” suggests that if your baby isn’t too sure about the cake, try putting a bit on your finger to pop in their mouth. If they haven’t had much experience with cake, they might not know it’s edible. Gee, how very annoying!
Is the Cake Smash producing more discerning eaters, more elegant behaviour? Is it teaching us about waste or the waistline? The word "cute" has a lot to answer for.
Watch out for this craze. It’s coming. An English newspaper reports that Millennials turning thirty want to get some action too. See Millennial Cake Smash for some charming photos.
In the meantime, here we’re seeing a lot of serious “cake shaming” where you must make sure that your child’s birthday cake is bigger, better, funnier, more inventive, whackier than that of his or her peers.
The French 17th C writer, François de La Rochefoucauld observed that in life, it’s not enough that you succeed but a friend should fail a little. (Shudder!)
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