There’s an atrocity taking place in homes across America and we’re gonna talk about it. Almost as critical as climate change, just a tier below bees dying off in droves, and somewhere in the shadow of the JFK assassination. This problem runs deeper than religions, creeds, and political affiliation. Whether you’re a Muslim, Christian, or Jew, Democrat or Republican, Boomer or Millennial, it’s time to address the elephant in the room.
Why is a group of misinformed savages acting like cake is equal to pie?
The fuck it is.
Created by the Egyptians, propagated by the Greeks, made substantial by the Germans, and driven home by post-industrial age Americans, cake has become the symbol of birthdays, weddings, and death. Someone gets married and wants to take a tacky photo with a slice? Cake has your back. Grandma kick the bucket? Here, have a slice of sympathy sponge.
Pie doesn’t get caught up in all that nonsense, It’s humble, more meaningful. You might eat cake when grandma dies, but you share her pie while she’s alive.
And where’s cake? You get one on your birthday, which is constructed to be a work of homespun art while everyone pretends to be happy that you wheezed all over it, blowing out the candle. Tally it all up: spit, waxy candle bits, layers of frosted drywall no one actually wants to eat. Sounds delicious!
Kids’ birthday parties are even worse. We’re stuffing an already insane batch of miscreants with hot dogs and chips and then we give them a low-grade sugar surge? Who thought this was a good idea?
Let’s get real here: have you even been to a birthday party where the whole cake is actually eaten? Sixty percent gets tossed about three days after guilt led you to stuff the leftovers in the beer fridge because “it’d be awful to let all that hard work go to waste.” Truth is, we all know that festering pile of shit was just taking up critical real estate.
Hell with birthdays, what about our two biggest food holidays: Christmas and Thanksgiving. Any of y’all munching on cake? Nope. Your ass is lining up to sample nine different kinds of pie. You just stuffed yourself silly with mashed potatoes, turkey, and a food that is called stuffing, but you still managed to make room for pie. Why? Because it’s that good.
How cake became viewed as pie’s equal is a mystery of not only the Marvel universe, but the real one we live in, and there ain’t any friendly Spider dudes or cosmic dessert power like Thanos and his sparkly glove to redeem it.
Cake sucks. It’s nothing more than a drywall center covered in disgusting icing with crunchy sugar cancer flowers — and without the frosting, cake is even worse. A loathsome sponge with no soul, reliant on blind hope all of the ingredients will coalesce. Let’s get real, cake people, you’re just in it for the frosting. And that’s fine, I guess, but all the frosting in the world can’t beat a simple peach pie.
A slice of pie has umami: the crunch of the crust, the gooey center. Let’s stop patting cake on the head and giving it a participation trophy for just showing up. Cake is the kid on the tee ball team who loves sitting on the bench and slurping Slushies. He didn’t earn his $5 star trophy with the sad little plaque, but he got it anyway, despite puking red at second base the one time he actually got a hit.
In the pantheon of dessert foods, cake is a 7th place, at best, behind cannoli, fritters, cobbler, and whatever fun things English people make on The Great British Baking Show.
Pie comes in apple, cherry, lemon meringue, pumpkin, strawberry, blueberry, and chess — it’s such a rainbow of flavors, there should be a cartoon leprechaun guarding that shit. Who doesn’t like a tangy key lime pie with its bright, bitter flavor, airy layer of whipped cream and then your boy, the graham cracker crust adding a flavor layer and coming correct Mack Diesel-style?
Over in Cakeville, the best you can hope for is red velvet, which is ultra-chocolate with red fuckin’ dye. Every cake defender cites chocolate as the supreme example of cake’s power, but have you tried chocolate pie? It’s lush, velvety, with a pudding consistency, and unlike chalky ol’ cake, doesn’t require a glass of milk to cover for that drywall-tasting ass.
Cake has like, six flavors: chocolate, red-chocolate, vanilla, vanilla with some colorful shit inside, and weird strawberry that tastes like the color pink. But Bobby, what about ice cream cake? Get out of here with that crap. That’s ice cream in a fancy outfit. And as for cheesecake? The cream cheese texture and presence of a crust suggests it’s more pie than cake. I’m chalking that up to marketing because “cheesecake” rolls off the tongue. “Cheese pie” sounds disgusting.
Cake can get stacked into crazy tiers or turned into a baby-eating witch as TV competition shows have taught us. Cake came only to impress. It’s the attractive asshole cousin who shits on every family get-together. Just because it looks fancy from afar doesn’t mean it’s beautiful. When it comes to getting to know cake, there’s not much there.
A pie is art made out of a grandmother’s embrace. You don’t just make a crust, those little divots with a fork takes patience and someone willing to teach that skill. Pies are currency, acts of kindness when someone does something nice for you: ain’t no one’s name Duncan Hines.
Pie might as well shit eagles and fart fireworks. We don’t say “as American as apple cake.” Don McLean didn’t drive his Chevy to the levy for some carrot cake. And all those horny teens didn’t head to the movie theaters to laugh their asses off back in the early ’00s when a teenaged everyman got caught with his dick in some angel food.
In cartoons, no one leaves a pound cake on the windowsill. Hell, Delmar, Delmar left a dollar for his thievery in O Brother Where Art Thou, back when a buck could feed a family for a year.
Cake is a bourgeois representative of Ayn Rand-esque society of celebrating the self for sick pleasure, while the humble pie is a factotum of everyman deliciousness that working hands created out of nothing. Plus, there’s a Robert E. Lee cake. If that isn’t fucked up, what is?
Robert Dean is a writer, journalist, and cynic. He lives in Austin and loves ice cream and koalas.