The birthday cake has become a staple of birthday celebrations around the world. Yet behind the cake lies a whole lot of history, money and world records! We share with you some of our favourite fun facts about birthday cakes:
1. The first birthday cakes were Geburtstagskuchen
The first birthday cakes were rumoured to have come from Germany, where birthday cakes were made for children to celebrate their birthdays. They weren’t the yummy, sweet, icing coated cakes we’re used to these days though. The cakes were much more like a bread and fairly rough in texture. We’ll take the soft, buttercream version please!
2. We spend over £1million a day on birthday cake
In the UK, nearly £368million is spent on whole cakes per year, which includes the birthday cake! That’s nearly £1million pounds worth of cake per day, which equates to a lot of cake (and even more candles). When you extend this to around the world, you’ll find that people eat between 50-100 million birthday cakes, not per year, but every single day.
3. Before birthday cake candles, the candles on cake were saved for the Goddesses of the Moon
Legend recalls that the addition of candles on cakes started in Ancient Greece, where cakes were made in a moon shape for the Goddess of the Moon, Artemis. The candles reflected the moonlight, whilst the smoke lifted the devotee’s prayers to Artemis. This is also rumoured to be why we ‘make a wish’ when we blow out the candles on birthday cakes, with the smoke carrying our wishes away to be granted. You don’t want to be blowing out those birthday candles in Venezuela however, where there is a practice of trying to push the birthday girl/boy’s face in the cake after the candles have been extinguished. At least they get the first taste of the cake!
4. The number of candles on a cake traditionally represent the years of your life you’re celebrating
This tradition is also said to have come from Germany, where the belief was that lighting these candles to celebrate the years preceding the birthday would lead to a long life in the future.
5. One of the biggest ever birthday cakes was almost as heavy as an elephant
One of the largest birthday cakes in the world was made for the Centennial Birthday of Las Vegas. To celebrate, a cake was made that weighed 6.18 tonnes. That’s almost the weight of an African elephant! We hope there was plenty of friends invited, because we’re guessing there was plenty of slices to go around.
6. The world record for birthday candles stands at over 70,000
The Sri Chinmoy Centre in New York holds the Guinness World Record for the most birthday candles on a cake, lighting over 70,000 candles. Sadly, due to the large amount, Sri Chinmoy wasn’t able to blow them out, instead resorting to using a fire extinguisher! In this instance, the number of candles didn’t quite match the years passed, with Sri Chinmoy celebrating his 85th birthday on the occasion.
7. Birthday cake used to be an expensive affair
In the 17th Century, birthday cakes started to become more commonplace and take the form we know them in today. The decadent creations could only be afforded by the upper class as the ingredients were so expensive. It wasn’t until the 18th Century that there was birthday cake all round. As the price of ingredients dropped, the demand rose.
8. For some, birthday cakes still come with a large price tag
One of the world’s most expensive cakes ever made was a whopping $75 million, sold to a secret buyer in the UAE. Only the finest ingredients were used and the cake depicted a fashion runway, lined with nothing other than diamonds (over 4000 of them!). It wasn’t quick to make either, taking over 1000 hours of painstaking work. For extravagant birthday cakes, that don’t cost the earth, take a look at our wonderful birthday cake collection.
9. When it comes to flavour, chocolate comes up top
What flavour would your ideal birthday cake be? Well, according to research the most popular choice is chocolate. We can’t help think of poor Bruce Bogtrotter, of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. In the book, Bruce is made to devour an entire cake, by the evil headmistress Mrs Trunchbull. Friends save the day however, chanting him to victory!
10. Birthday cakes aren’t just for humans
We wouldn’t want our furry friends to miss out on the fun of a birthday cake, and now they don’t have to! You can now get special birthday cakes for pets, with cakes available for dogs, cats and even hamsters.