January 20, 2007


My mom has always been extremely talented when it comes to baking and decorating cakes. She didn't do it full time, but she was hired regularly to create cakes for occasions ranging from local club meetings to some of the swankiest shindigs in the four-state area. This also meant that I had some of the best birthday cakes a kid could ever wish for. And so, I present you with photos of my first fourteen January 20ths.

Age 1- Panda Bear
My wife used this same design for our son's first cake...

Age 2- Tiger
This one was made from an ordinary heart shaped pan.

Age 3- Mickey Mouse (in Bandleader hat)
Ah, my first licensed character.

Age 4- Teepee
It's OK.. I can use the term 'paleface' because I'm white.

Age 5- Batman
From this point on I had gained control of my party themes. My mom picked up cake decorating magazines year round so I had lots of time to deliberate. Batman was an easy choice, and my dad ran with the theme by surprising me with a huge poster of the dynamic duo crashing through the wall. (Robin's toes are barely visible in the upper right of the photo.) Man, I wish I still had that poster. This ingenious cake pan could be decorated as Batman or Superman depending on which head and chest plate was used. A tough decision indeed. The way I saw it, there was only one real solution...

Age 6- Superman
Incidentally, this was probably the peak of cuteness for my sister and me. We just got uglier from that point on.

Age 7- Pirates
I was pirates when pirates wasn't cool. (The sand on the beach was made of brown sugar.)

Age 8- Darth Vader
I know, I know.. how very predictable.

Age 9- Asteroids
My mom informed me that she didn't have time to whip up an elaborate cake that year. But who needed complexity when vector graphics were the state of the art? I ran back to my desk, pulled out some paper and drew the Asteroids playing field by memory. Mom traced the drawing onto cellophane, laid it on top of the cake and etched in the design with a tooth pic. Fifteen minutes later I beheld a masterpiece.

Age 10- E.T.
This party couldn't have had more of a 1980s imprint on it. The theme was E.T. and it was held at the local roller skating rink which was home to walls of arcade games including my favorite of the moment.. Zaxxon. The evening was quite eventful. During the freestyle skating contest my guests and I purposefully skewed the results of the applause-o-meter, causing the worst participant to win. Later I accidentally locked skates with a junior high girl and set in motion a massive skater pile-up. I emerged unharmed but she was carried out of the building. A few days later she accosted me, showed me the largest bruise I had ever seen, and vengefully shoved me to the ground.

Age 11- Plain Chocolate Frosting
This was the year that I forfeited a fancy cake in favor of a more extensive bash. The handful of rascals behind me were but five of nearly fifteen prepubescent ruffians who stayed over that night. We rented a Video Disc Player and dined on homemade pizza as we watched Cloak and Dagger and Twilight Zone: The Movie. At midnight my dad took the entire gang on a surprise hike to the nearby graveyard. Gleeful chaos ensued. The police showed up and everyone scattered, but nobody got nabbed and we all made it home feeling like ninjas. The party became legendary, and it was discussed well into high school.

Age 12- Ghostbusters
I think this is my favorite of the bunch. The slime was made from an edible gel and it really takes the cake to another level.

Age 13- Generic Comic Book
This was the year that I "got serious" about my comic book collecting. Gone were the days of buying off the rack at the neighborhood gas station. I had entered a world where terms like "polybag" " back issue" and "near mint" were spoken freely.
(Comics in photo from left to right: Black Panther, Ambush Bug, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Marvel Saga.. all first issues. If I sold them now I could probably make enough cash to buy a comic book. Figures: Darkseid and Martian Manhunter from the Super Powers collection and Spider-Man from Secret Wars. The Thing and Mr. Fantastic ICEE cups sold separately.)

Age 14- South Korean Flag
Neither my friends nor I held any ill will towards the country of South Korea. The choice to put their flag on my birthday cake was made out of pure gratitude for the fact that they had invented tae kwon do (my pastime of choice during that era). The decision to hold it at gunpoint was inspired by Chuck Norris films such as Delta Force and Invasion USA. No need to fret.. the pistol, the sawed-off shotgun, and even the Uzis all came from the local Wal-Mart toy department; and you can bet they weren't subject to those annoying, orange barrel plugs.
(I'm the one with the pained expression and the Joe Cool dressed as Sonny Crockett t-shirt.)

Bonus Cake- Age 22- Ookla the Mok
I had to include this favorite from my college years. Following the long tradition of wonderful birthday cakes my then girlfriend/now wife took the torch and created this excellent design based on an old drawing I had done of Thundarr the Barbarian's sidekick.

Thanks mom for a lifetime of delicious and eye-popping birthdays.


Anonymous said...

That's a pretty awesome recap. It's pretty cool that your parents were shutterbugs. I keep telling my fiancee that I'm not a dork for taking pictures of everything I deem cool, I'm a dork because I'll be fawning over them 20 years from now...

Anonymous said...

You sure are one lucky duck. I never had any cool cakes, really...but more importantly I never had a party at the roller skating rink. On a side note, I never really got good at braking, and (it being the early 80s) one wall of the rink was shag carpeted, so in order to stop I would just slam myself into the wall. That concludes my little story.

Happy Birthday!

Dr.Terror said...

No 70's childhood birthday is complete without the Batman/Superman cake pan.

Aaron said...

Happy Birthday Kirk.

My mom had a cake made for my 13th...it was a girl in a green bikini (neck to thigh shot). I thought it was a frog. I know I've got a pic of it somewhere...I'll have to dig it out.

Another great post! I really love the blog!

Todd Franklin said...

Happy Birthday Kirk!!

My Grandmother made me a Star Wars cake every year until I was 14 or 15 years old! So I remember the excitement of theme cakes!

I love the Asteroids cake and oh man, that Ookla Cake is the best! I guess that cake sealed the deal that your girlfriend was the one for you!

eviedee said...

Your mom and wife are AWESOME!! The cake thing HAD to be a factor in the decision to get married right?!

The CDP. said...

You were quite the lucky kid. What a neat Mom.

Also, let this be a lesson to everyone: TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS AND THROW NOTHING AWAY.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow an incredible entry! I did have one cool cake - an R2D2 cake that was shaped like him, standing up!

Anonymous said...

Your mom is awesome.

John Rozum said...

Happy Birthday, Paleface!

Not only is it great that all of those cakes were photographed, but it's great that they are all in focus and properly exposed, versus the photos of my birthday cakes.

The only cake I recall from my own youth was one that had an image of dinosaurs on one side, and the "Happy Birthday" part on the other. I wouldn't let anyone eat the dinosaur side and got a talking to about being selfish.

My own kids got some pretty nice cakes as well from my sister who is a professional baker/cake decorator, but now that we live over 800 miles away from her, their cakes are pretty basic. I have no ability to render in frosting.

Thanks for sharing.

Art said...

Awesome post. I just came across your blog and I saw this as the top post, for a while I thought "My Life in Frosting" was the overall theme and it'd be your whole life in cakes. Lovely memories.

Kirk D. said...

smurfwreck- You know it..ya gotta keep taking the pictures, it's like putting money in some magical nostalgia savings account.
I can only imagine how many photos we would have now if digital were around back in the day. A big factor that limited our family photos was the cost. My mom had figured exactly how much each photo cost in film and development. (you also couldn't "sell back" the ones you didn't want at the time, which is something my mom takes full advantage of now.)

john j- I hope you right that wrong and go to a skating rink on your next birthday. I'll bet you can brake now.

dr. terror- you said it.

iamchief- ha, sounds like she was going for some sort of 'coming of age' thing. creepy.

todd- certainly you have photos of those cakes around somewhere right?
Let's see 'em!

eviedee- that cake was the very reason we got married. However my wife now tells me that she had less to do with the Ookla cake than I once thought. We may need counseling now.

cdp- I'm considering your slogan for a tattoo.

anonymous- my mom made an R2 for someone else. She could make a killer cake blog if she wanted to.

mikey- thanks, I'll tell her you said so.

rozum- back in the day I had no idea how rare 'in focus' and properly framed photos were.
I can't blame you for hoarding the dinosaurs. I always wanted to eat the most important cake parts (usually faces) I'm glad your kids are getting good cakes. Otherwise they'll have nothing to blog about in twenty years.

thanks art! hmmmmm, maybe I SHOULD turn this into an all cake/all-the-time blog. I can tell I'm going to need more birthdays.

Anonymous said...

Awesome compilation!
Looking at your pics, I felt like I was looking a photo album of my own birthday parties. My mom was a semi-professional cake decorator when I was growing up. We had some of the same cakes... Ahhh, growing up in the '70s... memmoriees.

Anonymous said...

I found this to be one of the most endearing blogs ive ever read. (i havent read that many...lol) but still, i was smiling the whole time:) thanks for sharing this

Anonymous said...

What awesome memories you have - does your mom still do the cake thing? I enjoyed reading this very much. Thanks for the great pics and the narrative!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow... Those cakes are incredible! I think my favorite was the Asteroids one... I mean, so simple, but brillaint!
Can't say I ever had any wicked-cool cakes like yours... Mine were all store bought. :)

Kirk D. said...

texasron- Then I'm guessing you've probably also had your share of cake scraps, extra icing and leftover batter. Mmmmm, so many fringe benefits.

anonymous- Thanks, and how very nice of you to say! Don't bother reading other blogs.. just stick with this one.

kenny- you're quite welcome. My mom does indeed do cakes from time to time these days. Considering the positive response this post has gotten, I think she should advertise online!

leah- you should put that fish tattoo design from your gallery on a cake.
It's never too late for cool cakes.

Anonymous said...

yep, you sure were/are one lucky dude...

unknown said...

awesome stuff

Steven Altis said...

I'm a bit late to the party, but I just had to start up a little round of applause for that comic book cake... it's too, too cool!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your memories with us. As a child of the 80's myself, I smiled and nodded the whole way through. Sounds like you had one awesome childhood - wish more people could experience that magic.

Kirk D. said...

anonymous- and how!

Thanks enki3d!

steven- the party's just getting started. I find that anything can be cool when you stick a plastic Spider-Man in it.

amy- you're welcome. Nice that you can relate. The older I get the more I understand what a blessing a good childhood is.

Anonymous said...

My friend sent me a link to these cakes! cool. my mother used to do this for me, although I took it to a new level for my kids. My favorite, that I made, was the pyramid cake, when my son Carson was really into the Egyptians (age 6 or was it 10?)..anyway, I made this huge pyramid cake, wrapped his action figure in cheesecloth (mummy) and stuck it in a carved out tomb inside the pyramid. When he cut into it, the mummy was revealed!! You should have seen the shocked little faces...those were the days when I was a cool mom. nice to think about...

Kirk D. said...

cool anonymous mom-

The mummy cake is a great idea! I'll have to remember that one for my son.
That concept could translate to all sorts of themes. I'm thinking an ocean cake with plastic fish inside. And of course a Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

I had the exact same Mickey Mouse cake, though I think it was for my 4th birthday!

Anonymous said...

Now there's a loving mom. Bring a tear to the eye it does.

Glen Mullaly said...

Wow! What a great post. As others have said many of us had great cakes from talented and loving parents, but the extent and quality of your photographic records really pushed this to the top. Thanks for sharing them!
For my similar, but fuzzier, childhood iced memories...



Anonymous said...

Great Blog. There were a lot of creative Mom's back in the day.

Pilgrim said...

This was a great trip down memory lane for me too, back through the 70's and 80's. No birthday was complete without some Superman, Batman, Ghostbusters, ET, and Pacman back then for the boys in my neighborhood.
Looks like you had a great mom.
Thanks for posting all this.
Loved the clothes, too. We all dressed alike back then.

Cake Believe said...

I LOVE that you appreciate all your mother did for you. I make special cakes for my kids too and I hope they will look back at them and remember the love. (p.s. came over here from Cake Wrecks!)

Kelly said...

I am totally in awe of your mother! I just can't imagine all that hard work. I am glad you posted these and paid her a tribute. Lucky you!!!

Anonymous said...

Just came across this from a linky! How neat and what memories :).

AllBlueZoo said...

very very cool! I'm not sure if I am more impressed with the cakes or the fact that you found pictures of that many!!! I also celebrate on the 20th of January...born on Super Bowl Sunday 1974.

Dorci said...

As a mom with two boys, one grown and the other nearly, who also made each and every birthday cake for my sons (including a replicas of a Playstation and the landing where Darth Vader loses his arm and falls down the hole), this post very nearly brought me to tears. Awesome combination of nostalgia and goofy silliness. Your mom did a great job and kudos to your wife for her talent and keeping up the tradition. I hope my boys find such a wife. Well, one for each of them. ;o)

Christa said...

your mom is hands down the coolest! I hope my kids think the same about me one day!

as in
Your mom is stacks above the rest.

Pirate Queen said...

Your cake-by-cake account is just delightful! I love how many of the photos catch you in mid-puff, blowing out your candles. Great fun, thanks for sharing!

Sunshine said...

My favorite is "Cap'n Kirk" on the pirate cake ... the perfect melding of Star Trek and Pirates.

heartafire said...

What a mom, is all I can say...
Came over here from CakeWrecks (my favorite blog!)

Wicked Witch of the West (Coast) said...

Your mom was a great cake decorator. That Ghostbusters cake was more than impressive.

I have to say I did have the roller rink party. It was a double party with my then-BFF, we were 7 and we had Cabbage Patch Kids cakes. One of my fave parties!

4dogmomma said...

Love the trip down memory lane. I was born in '69, so I was celebrating about the same time. Did you play Astroids on your Atari?

mamalemma said...

This could have been written by either me or my sister ... well, if one of us was a boy. We had some of the same cakes, but then they got decidedly girlier. My mom was also not professional, but did cakes for hire. It started to take over her life at one point, so she's cut back. My sister and I both learned, but we stick to our own kids' birthdays. I loved the trip down memory lane, and hope my kids enjoy it when their time comes too (Since I have both a girl and a boy, I've had to learn how to do all those boy cakes!) Congrats on the mention in CakeWrecks!

Wendy said...

This is absolutely fantastic! Yay for Wilton cake pans and decorating magazines. Please make sure your mom takes this the right way, but those homemade cakes look like they came from the grocery store...which is all that kids with homemade cakes really truly want.

Kirk D. said...

A pointlessly late welcome to all you cakewreck readers! Thanks for all the comments. Here are some custom replies for you...

Meghan- Well, then it doesn't count does it?

Glen- whoa, must have missed your comment from way back. We have like three cakes in common! And the Hulk is phenomenal!

Thanks Marilyn, fortunately there still are!

pilgrim- yeah, the striped turtleneck shirts for all!

cake believe- I love that your name is cake believe. Yeah, I wonder how old I was when I realized that not everybody had such cool cakes.

kelly- I will share your awe with her!

gymmie- thanks!

allbluezoo- yes the combination of cake making and pictures is crucial for the lasting memory. She pulled off both. whoa, we're only 365 days off.

dorci- I'm so glad that you were moved by this collection. I'm sure you will be equally appreciated. I'm also very curious about this "landing where Darth Vader loses his arm and falls down the hole"

christa- I'm sure they will if you give them enough cake!

pirate queen- yes it was VERY important to get that exact moment. Tradition was at stake.

Sunshine- yes, Star Trek, Pirates and Me all go together very well.

heartafire- thanks for visiting. No other single link has ever been so vocal. You guys are awesome.

wicked witch- yes the slime was a stoke of genius. A cabbage patch party at the roller rink is the very picture of 80s.

wendy- oh, I certainly did. On my Atari and at the arcades. I still have my Atari and my Asteroids

mamalemma- ah, yes, I relate to the taking over of life thing. sometimes we lived in a sea of cake pans and batter bowls and icing flowers.

wendy- yes Wilton played a huge part in this. At some point I need to share the photos of her original cakes. She actually won a Wilton contest once. I still love those decorating magazines.