Dear Parents-to-Be, Do We Really Have to Eat Cake That Identifies Your Baby’s Gender Now?


The New York Post today has an article about “baby-cakes.” Contrary to what one might think, a “baby-cake” is not a cake with a baby inside it, nor a cake made of baby, whipped and delicious, nor even a traditional New Orleans “King cake” in which, if you get a little plastic baby in your slice, you are saddled with the responsibility of bringing the cake the next year. No, a “baby-cake” is a cake that contains frosting (or, at the very least, cakiness) of a gender-stereotyped color representing whether your baby is a girl or a boy on the inside. As the Post puts it, “Why find out your tot’s gender in the doctor’s office when you can have your nearest and dearest alongside you, as well as a delicious cake?” Why, indeed?

The deal with baby-cakes is that you invite over all of your friends, and they probably bring you presents, because that’s what people are expected to do in these sorts of situations, you know — you throw the party, you arrange the cake indicative of what’s in your uterus, you tell them what to buy, and they bring you what you want and ooh and ahh and eat your womb-cake and tell you how happy they are for you. So the cake is cut, the baby’s gender is so identified, pink or blue, based on the color frosting that “oozes out,” and everyone eats and goes home and talks about how you had the very best baby-cake they ever put in their mouths. This is lovely because the pregnant woman is not “forced” to find out her baby’s gender in a “sterile environment.” Because no one would want to eat cake in a doctor’s office!

Baby-cakes take work, from both mother and doctor (and baker). Which must be why they are so special?

An expectant mother will ask her doctor to jot down the baby’s gender on a slip of paper and seal it in an envelope. The woman will then take her envelope to a baker, who will open it privately and decorate the inside of the cake with blue or pink frosting, according to instructions.

Sometimes doctors have messed up! Sometimes bakers! What if the baker gets blabby and tells everyone!? This is probably very exciting, the stuff of which prime-time miniseries are made. The stakes are also high, as they can lead to “social rejection or — worse — total heartbreak.” (Or maybe that’s the hormones? Or the sugar?)

As a single, childless woman who has been to many a baby shower in her time, I will say it: We love you, friends with kids. We love you, and we love your babies and babies-to-be. We agree it is a “wonderful, amazing journey” you are on, and that your life has changed forever (God bless) — and sometimes, because of you, so has ours. But we have things to do, lives to lead, bills to pay. While the sex of your baby is infinitely interesting to you, even cake-worthy, to us it is a simple fact, one that might indicate what the adorable gender-appropriate onesie we will buy (sorry — not on your registry!) will be inscribed with, but nothing but a blip, really, because we don’t care whether you have a boy or a girl any more than we care to watch you sit in front of us and open present after present that you have been gifted at that hellish event known as the “baby shower.” No one likes watching someone else endlessly open presents and show them off, even if they are baby things, which are, yes, cute. There are only so many “oohs” and “how adorable!” a person can muster until they curdle on the inside and die.

So until your baby can dance or say funny things or play the piano or bring us a martini, your baby is essentially just you. Would you invite everyone over to watch you open presents? Would you order a cake in your own honor, with a “surprise” that you already knew about inside, and stage a cutting-and-reveal ceremony? (Oh, my God, crimson is oozing out of the cake! I got into Harvard Law! Aren’t you happy for me?) Jesus, we hope not. That would be kinda…weird, no?

So you’re having a baby. Tell us what sex it is, or don’t. We’re happy for you just the same, and we’ll choose a nice gift, and bring it to you at some point, we promise. Just don’t make us come over and stand expectantly around and feign excitement and then eat boy-or-girl-cake about it. That’s just…yucky.

Sweet surprise [NYP]