The birthday cakes of today, those adorned with icing, messages and flowers or other decorations, were not the original birthday cakes. Â In the European tradition in which they originated, birthday cakes were often fruitcakes or yeasted cakes. The only decorative touches were the birthday candles.
The modern form of birthday cakes described above is an American convention. In America, home baked cakes became more prevalent than in Europe because of the abundance of firewood and other fuels for a stove beginning in the mid 19th century. Also, the American frontier lacked traditional bakeries and people had to rely more on homemade goods in general. Because a person was making the cake, it was easier to customize it to individual interests and tastes. As personalized cakes became incorporated into the social norms of the day, their popularity soared.
Early messages scrawled on cakes included “Many Happy Returns of the Day” and “Mabel Smither July 8th 1885 from Dick and Lizzie.” The customary “Happy Birthday” message did not appear on cakes until the song bearing the same name became popular in 1910.
The first colored frostings were made with parsley and beets. Cookbooks began to include special recipes for cakes and tips on how to decorate them. Sometimes, a cake would be baked at home and then taken to a specialist to be decorated. In 1958, A.H. Vogel began to sell pre-made cake decorations. These included letters, numbers and decorative elements that can merely be placed on a cake.
Cake with a side of ice cream has been a combination used since the frozen desert became the rage in Colonial America.Â However, in the 1930s, Carvel introduced a new type of birthday cake â€“ the ice cream cake. Drawing on the traditions of cake and ice cream, the combination has made for a popular birthday treat today.
“Birthdays” Lisa Jernow. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Oxford; Oxford University Press Â Â Â p. 98 â€“ 100
Tuckerman, Nancy and Dunnan, Nancy. The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette. New York: Doubleday. 1995.