Whether you’re celebrating your 50th or just a regular old 22nd birthday, you can’t go wrong with a slice of cake. It’s one of those foods that can make any bad day seem a little better, so it’s no wonder we associate it with birthdays. But where did this tradition come from, and what’s the deal with those flaming candles?
Most people love a good cake. Some are devoted to chocolate, some prefer carrot, others like angel food or red velvet. But the true classic is a vanilla cake topped with frosting and sprinkles. Whether you prefer to eat it on its own or with a dollop of whipped cream, there’s something about this flavor combination that just makes you feel happy.
You can find this type of cake in almost any supermarket, as a sheet or cupcakes. And it’s often the base for a whole range of custom hand-decorating, from the celebrant’s name to images of their favorite things. A well-decorated cake can be a beautiful centerpiece for a party or simply serve as a sweet dessert after a meal.
The modern birthday cake first appeared in Western culture in the 17th century, when bakeries started making multi-layered cakes with decorations and detailed icing. They were expensive and were only available to the wealthy, but as the Industrial Revolution shifted materials and goods into mass production, cakes became more affordable and accessible to everyone.
During this time, we also began to include candles on a cake. Though it’s difficult to pinpoint when exactly this began, some historians believe that round cakes and candles started back in Ancient Greece, where they were used to honor Artemis, the moon goddess. The lighted candles on top made the cakes look more like the moon and, when blown out, symbolized a person’s wishes for the year ahead.
There is no industry standard for birthday cake flavor, but it’s generally described as a stronger, powdery vanilla with an artificial almond or cherry-like quality on the palate. It’s a complex taste that, when combined with brightly colored sprinkles, is incredibly uplifting. But why does this particular flavor experience such a high peak on the food pyramid? According to Tom Gibson, a food scientist who studies flavor, birthday cake flavor is often used when people need comfort. He suggests that it may be because of the familiarity of the taste, which can make a person feel a sense of security or safety when they are feeling overwhelmed. birthday cake