Cake Wrecks' Jen Yates in Dallas.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
I went to see, Jen Yates, who writes the ever-brilliant Cake Wrecks blog. She was in town promoting her new book, which you should buy. It includes some old favorites but also lots of never-before-seen wrecks. Buy it through this website and I make a few pennies on the sale. Nothin' wrong with that. I don't shill what I don't genuinely love and I genuinely love the blog and the book.
So anyway, since I went to the book signing and wrote the story that never ran, I decided to air it here, along with an e-mail interview I did with Jen.
A Cake Wrecks book is icing on Jen Yates' cake
Nobody is more surprised than Jen Yates by the success of her Cake Wrecks blog.
It all started when her husband John signed them both up for a cake decorating class as Christmas present. “He thought it was one night, but it was 16 weeks,” said Yates, speaking before a standing room-crowd at Legacy Books in Plano on Saturday. “Sixteen weeks of togetherness,” she added with a grin.
In May 2008, a friend e-mailed Yates, who lives in Orlando, Fla., the first Cake Wreck photo (“…Under Neat that….”) A few hours later, Yates launched the blog she thought would entertain just family and friends. By July, she had hundreds of visitors daily. Within months, book publishers were contacting her. She turned them down. “I said, ‘You guys are really desperate.’”
Finally, though, she agreed. Now Cake Wrecks (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $12.99) is in book stores and the blog gets about 75,000 views and 50 submissions daily. Although, Yates says, “not all of them are carrot-jockey quality.” And that made her fans laugh.
Cake Wrecks fans know their Wrecks and most have a favorite.
“The Darth Vader baby shower cake,” said Rachael Hilst of Carrolton, who purchased two books for Yates to sign—one to keep and one for a friend.
“I like the misspellings,” said Jessa Waterman of Frisco, who wore a Cake Wrecks “I want sprinkles,” T-shirt.
Stephanie Ellis of Denton is partial to “mini hot dog riding a poo wave" because it was her submission, photographed at her local Kroger. That was a good week, she said. First her Wreck was accepted, then her boyfriend Kyle Bradbury—also at the event—proposed.
Though technical difficulties at Legacy killed her slide show, Yates wasn’t rattled. “I’m here, you’re here, there’s cake here, so we’ve got a party,” she said, and instead took questions from the crowd, proving to be as funny in person as on her blog.
She cited photo cakes as a trend on the wane. “I think people realized it’s a little odd eating someone’s face.” She reported that, “Some bakeries have told me they flat-out refuse to make cupcake cakes now.” She said she sometimes hears from moms who confess that they’re disappointed when their child’s birthday cake comes out perfect. And advising the betrothed couple on avoiding a wedding cake wreck, she said they should have it delivered early and, “Don’t have your Aunt Nancy give it a whirl.”
Before people lined up for autographs and some chocolate cake supplied by Bronwen Weber at Frosted Art Bakery, it was time for the cupcake contest—miniature “Wreckplicas” on cupcakes. From about 15 entries, Yates selected three finalists. The winner, chosen by audience applause, was “Push, Olivia Push,” the site’s first censored cake, complete with little fondant censorship bars. All finalists received carrot-jockey necklaces and the winner, professional baker Nicole Honsaker of Keller, also went home with a Cake Wrecks apron.
....OK, here's where things tail off in this story, 'cause it then went on to talk about Jen's husband falling horribly ill and being hospitalized in Dallas. It was pretty scary at first and they were stuck here while he got back on his feet. But all is well now and they were able to reschedule tour dates they'd canceled.
E-interview with Jen Yates
You’re hilarious--do you write all your own material?
Aw, thanks! Yep, everything with my name on it is all me. (I occasionally have my husband John or my sister-in-law Anne Marie guest post.)
Do you have an all-time favorite Wreck, and/or a favorite Wreck theme?
There are too many fabulous Wrecks to have just one favorite, but I especially love the misunderstandings (like the flash drive cake) and the Beyond Bizarre category. Trying to understand just why someone would put little plastic babies on icing carrots can hurt your brain, but it's also guaranteed to tickle your funny bone.
Do you think you're seen everything a Wreck can be or are you still sometimes surprised?
Every time I think I've seen the creepiest, ugliest, or most ridiculous cake imaginable, I get one even worse - or better, depending on your perspective. So yes, I still get surprised! That's part of the fun of writing Cake Wrecks; I never know what to expect in the inbox each morning.
Do you ever hear from the bakers whose Wrecks are featured?
Not very often, no. We've had a handful of bakers ask us to remove something they made - which we always do - but of those only two or three were particularly nasty about it. Most bakers seem to have a sense of humor about Cake Wrecks, and these days we actually get quite a few of them submitting their own cakes!
A friend (and passionate Cake Wrecks fan) wonders if your hostility towards cupcake cakes is due to some childhood birthday party trauma.
Hah! Well, if so then I've managed to repress it pretty well. ;) Besides, cupcake cakes are a relatively new creation, aren't they? Before I started Cake Wrecks I'd never even heard of them. No, my disdain for CCCs is easily explained: they're ugly, messy, and, you know, pure evil. Obviously.
(BTW, the same friend suggests that your next book should be Make Wrecks, a cookbook showing step-by-step instructions for reproducing the “more terrifying” cakes in your collection. )
Whoah there, I'm not so sure we should be encouraging the Wreckerators! Heh. Although, a lot of readers do recreate their favorite Wrecks, and send me the pictures. You can't ask for sweeter fan mail than that!
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