Cake smashing is one dumb trend. But I think we've come across one that trumps a cake smash in the cringe-stakes. Meet the Gender Reveal cake.
What is a Gender Reveal cake?
To the uninitiated, a gender reveal cake is a cake that is decorated in neutral colours on the outside, and when cut into, reveals either blue (for boy) or pink (for girl) layers of sponge inside.
In order to create the cake whilst guarding the surprise, the parents share the results of their ultrasound scan taken at around 20 weeks with just the cake-maker who will then create the cake accordingly.
So what's the big deal?
To be completely clear, it's not just the cake we are critiquing on here. It's the entire occasion centred around the cake that is the main source of the cringe. And it's not even about the issues of gender stereotyping, from even before the baby has arrived. No, no, not even that.
Can I say it? Can I really say it? Okay, I'll say it.
NOBODY CARES ABOUT THE GENDER OF YOUR UNBORN CHILD.
There, I said it. Absolutely nobody cares about the gender of an unborn baby, no matter how close you are to the expecting parents. The only people who may care are the parents themselves, and that too more for practical reasons - they may now like to kit out the nursery and start getting baby clothes accordingly. If anyone else really cares, that's just really strange. Could there even be any other response other than a predictable YAY despite the outcome of the sponge colour? Nope, because then that would be even more strange.
To host an event just to create drama around the unveiling of the GENDER of a baby is such a bizarre phenomenon. I understand baby showers - a nice time to spoil the mum-to-be before baby comes kicking and screaming and sleep-thieving. But a gender reveal? Seems a new level of extra.
How did Gender Reveal Parties start?
It all started with a blogger who hosted, what we believe to be, the world's first gender reveal party in 2008. She had a cake custom made to reveal pink layers inside when cut into. Her blog post went viral, and the internet did its thing where it makes a big thing out of a thing that should have never been a thing in the first place.
Some years ago a friend of an influencer asked us for a gender reveal cake paid for in my fave currency - €xposures. It was a bit of an awkward situation as the influencer in question was good friends with another influencer who happened to be a loyal paying customer of ours. I didn't want to say no outright, so thought I'd ask for a donation to a charity instead, thinking they wouldn't respond and that would be my dignified out. But to my horror, they readily agreed. So now I HAD to make the cake, joke's on me LOLz. I'm kidding, I'm not bitter about them not wanting to pay ME in the first place - they donated to GOSH so at least some good came out of it and I was very happy about that.
It sounds innocent enough, it's just cake. What's the problem?
But the trend didn't just stop at seemingly innocent cakes. Due to social media's insatiable appetite for perpetual one-upmanship, it spread like literal wildfire - in 2020, a smoke-bomb releasing a harmless cloud of blue or pink smoke malfunctioned at a gender reveal party in California and caused a wildfire that burned more than 13,000 acres of land, led to the evacuation of 3,000 residents, destroyed infrastructure and homes and caused serious injuries. Are you wondering about the baby's gender? Well, the 73-day long fire was started with a plume of blue smoke, if anyone's still curious for any inexplicable reason.
El Dorado Gender Reveal Fire - Kyle Grillot The Washington Post via Getty Images
This wasn't the first wildfire caused by parents enthusiastic about their future offspring's gender - In April 2017, an off-duty US border patrol agent in Arizona chose to disclose the sex of his child to the world by shooting at a target full of coloured explosives. The stunt caused a wildfire that damaged 47,000 acres of forest and cost $8m to extinguish. If you're still curious about the gender of this random baby...the explosives were meant to blow up in blue smoke.
Okay, we get it. No more gender reveal parties near forests! How about a car blowing out colourful smoke? Sounds cool, right? Nope, bad idea. In 2019, along a rural road in Australia’s Gold Coast, an excited dad-to-be was attempting a burn-out in a car fitted with special smoking tyres but the stunt back-fired (har har) drastically. The car burst into flames. Luckily noone was injured, but they were fined heftily. What colour was the smoke meant to be before it was all grim and grey? Blue, if anyone still cares.
You'd think people would learn. But silliness doesn't seem to stop. earlier this year in 2022, a couple in Brazil contaminated a whole waterfall Queima Pé river, a major water source for the area, with blue dye to announce the gender of their dearly beloved yet-to-be-born male sprog. The environment authorities are investigating the couple with the possibility of pressing charges for causing harm to the environment.
By comparison to such gender reveal mishaps and disasters, a gender reveal cake seems relatively innocuous. But despite the internet doing its thing and making a thing out of a non-thing, isn't it just simply awkward to get that excited about a baby's gender? Other than the parents, I am not sure why anyone would give even a moment's thought to it. Regardless of the result of whether it's a pink or blue sponge, the reaction is always going to be the same - a semi-feigned excited cheer.
So what's the point of it all?
The only passable excuse to host such a self-indulgent non-event is simply to get your favourite people together and celebrate the excitement of a new arrival. And for that reason, I'm actually ok with it. Any excuse to get people together and have cake is cool by me. And I will happily fake an overly enthusiastic expression of joy at the colour of the sponge.
What are your thoughts on gender reveal parties? Have you had one or been to one? Would you want to have one? Is it a "thing" where you're from? Tell me because I really want to be convinced it should be a thing.
Lots of love, regardless of gender,
November 02, 2022
I had one for my 2nd (1st was a surprise) because it was a slightly more special way to find out than being told in a hospital room that was far too similar to a room I was told I’d lost a baby in. Having said that, we invited immediate family only and we were all keen to find out the gender – I definitely wasn’t keen to turn it into a party. It was, however, a lovely excuse to have my nearest and dearest over for cake!