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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ace of Cakes Cake Bakery Flops

Alternate Title: Let Them Bake Cake!


There's nothing like a little Food Network to bring a family together. Other than Phineas & Ferb, it sure beats the other crap on TV that is fit for kids' consumption (not to be confused with the consumption of kids, which would just be plain creepy and disgusting).

I happen to love food. I could watch the Food Network 24/7, and for those times that I am holed up in bed with a fever, I do just that. But let's be real, no mother with a fever gets to hole up in bed; no rest for the weary as they say. I don't know who "they" are, but they sure do know what they're talking about. If there's one thing I want to impart to my sons, it's a love of food. I want them to see that food is about so much more than sustenance. It's tradition, culture, adventure,

The boys like to watch the Food Network Challenge. We don't much care about the wacky burger recipes or food styling competitions. Bring on the cake challenges! The next best thing to eating cake is watching the pros making cake. It's good fun to see the extreme decorating and smoking, spinning whatchamacallits. We teeter with tension when it's time to move the cake to the judging table. We all hiss at the mere sight of sugarcraft hall of famer Kerry Vincent. She's like the pinch nosed Simon Cowell of Food Network Cake Challenge.

The one show we all love best (though Mac Daddy would still put anything with Giada in it at the top of his list), is Ace of Cakes. I've been a huge fan since before Duff, Geof, and Mary Alice were household names. I can't bake worth a lick so I live vicariously through the team at Charm City Cakes. What I really want is to share a whole mess of 5:00 Fridays with the crew and laugh until my jaws ache. I also really want to chow down on all those carved off bits of cake (The waste is criminal! All that lost cake...sigh.). Bird, Deal, and I gasp whenever we see those carved off hunks of delectable cake brushed into the garbage. Cake!

Bird and Deal like to pretend to make and decorate cakes. They use Kapla blocks, LEGO, cardboard remnants. Then Deal grabs the toy mayonnaise squirter from the toy kitchen and pretends it's frosting. He conjures up all kinds of wacky odds and ends to manufacture his own brand of gum paste. Bird was doing his homework the other day and asked me how to spell "fondant." The boys love to play Ace of Cakes. Bird is always Duff (the boss, no surprise there), Deal assumes the role of Geof, and I am Mary Alice despite my whining to be Elena since our names are so much alike. Mac Daddy is always Ben, particularly fitting on Sundays when he hasn't shaved all weekend. Whenever we see a dalmatian Deal is relieved that Duff isn't around because he apparently has a fear of dalmatians. And yes, Deal even mentioned this to the fire chief on a recent field trip to the local station.

I have been thinking about getting the boys some sort of Ace of Cakes present for Christmas. Perhaps this. But not this.

Now take a moment to click on those links or the rest of this post won't make a lick of sense to you. Go on. I'll wait.

<Insert Jeopardy music here.>



I find it pretty disappointing that Duff, a tough yet affable guy who bakes cakes for a living, is supporting a product so clearly geared toward girls. Does he really want to limit his brand like that? Does he really want to turn off (and away) all the boys who finally have society's permission to explore the kitchen? For starters, the company is Girl Gourmet. The colors, while not treacly pink, are decidedly girly and definitely not unisex. Bird and Deal would have loved this toy, but the packaging would be a big pee-ewww (best said with your nose plugged for full effect). And sure, being the liberal progressive mom that I am, I should go ahead and buy it. And I just might. But that's not my point.

I'm wondering why such a toy is targeted just to girls in the first place. As if the pink irons and dishes and brooms aren't bad enough. The toy aisles are clearly demarcated by a gender line these days. Girls engage in domesticity while boys flirt with violence. Do you have any idea how hard it was to find a gender neutral play kitchen and accessories for my kids?
And pink tools in the aisles of Sears and Home Depot and Lowes?! Don't get me started. Alas, I have already started. Who's sponsoring the time travel back to 1952 trip here? Is Dr. Laura lurking around the exhibit booths of the Toy Fair, saddling manufacturers and buyers with subliminal messages of feminine obedience and servitude? Girls should be encouraged to do more than cook and clean, no? If anything, boys could use some bolstering in that department. I live with three of them. I should know.

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10 comments:

dadshouse said...

How great that you are encouraging a love of food and cooking in them! It's too bad baking toys are sort of "girly". (I have a girl, so I can say that - she is tomboy tough and smart as can be, but she did have her pink and cute phase.)

I got into cooking in college when the trumpet section in marching band made chicken Cordon Bleu for the flutes and clarinets sections. We were mostly men. They were mostly women. They loved our food that night.

More importantly, they loved "us" very much!!

Jennifer said...

You are so right on this one, and I have two girls, so imagine how frustrating is when you're trying to raise them to believe they can do anything a boy can. You know how many kids' cookbooks come across my work desk with "princess" in the title. Cooking is a beautiful balance of chemistry and art, and all kids should be encouraged to explore it.

The Mother said...

Okay, I usually don't get upset about this stuff. I mean, kids will play with whatever they like, and it really doesn't matter what the name is or what color it is.

But I'm with you on this one. This product could SO easily have been marketed to both sexes.

And with Duff running around with power tools, he's a great role model for the boys who want to learn to feed themselves without stigma.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I don't get it either--why not RED? Or BROWN? Sheesh. My sons love the food network, too. Alton Brown, Triple D--oldest kid wants to be a chef when he grows up and it's nice to see men in the kitchen!

Magpie said...

I hate that shit. That boy/girl divide shit. Grrr...

Deb said...

I read this yesterday and my iPhone didn't want me to comment. So I'm back to say...this is bullshit on Ace of Cakes part. I hate the pink vs. black aisles of the toy stores, but this seems even worse, because as you say, AoC has a cool brand with male and female bakers who are artists and kickass--I can't see any of them defending the further Barbification of cooking.

I love that your kids watch the show with you!

Melissa Culbertson said...

I'm SO with you! If there's one thing Food Network has done, it's get men to watch cooking shows and not be afraid to cook. And then, Ace of Cakes takes it a step back (well, a few decades back) to "girls belong in the kitchen and boys don't" crap. I mean they didn't outright say that, but the COLORS they chose says it for them!

I have a boy (and another on the way). He's 2.5 and loves to help me and hubby cook, stir, measure, etc. I'm just disappointed that so many products, commercials, etc. still draw those traditional male/female lines in the sand.

Naomi said...

Honestly, you'd be better off buying a lazy susan and some cake mix. Roo LOVES the thing but it only came with two tiny cake mix pouches and thimble sized fondant mixes. I'd rather teach her how to use real kitchen tools although I admit the lure of the pink plastic stuff was strong to me as a kid, too...

prashant said...

But I'm with you on this one. This product could SO easily have been marketed to both sexes. Work from home India

prashant said...

But I'm with you on this one. This product could SO easily have been marketed to both sexes.



Work from home India