Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Big Birthday Cake Bonanza! : Part 2

Be sure to check out Part 1 first if you haven't already....

Time for the conclusion of our sugary look back at my first 12 birthday cakes, as created by the talented Kid Glen's Mom. In part one we covered the baby, Cowboy & Indians, circus, Walt Disney, clown, and Panda themed cakes. Once we get by cake #7 we move on to the Space / Comic Book period, but more of that in a minute.

First up ( above ) is a bit of a holdover from the last batch... I was always a big fan of cartoons ( or as we adults call it, "animation" ). Often on weekdays before or after school, circa 1975, you could find me enjoying the wacky 7 minute adventures of classic cartoons of the 50, 60s and 70s compiled into programs with names like "Frisky Frolics" and "Fun-O-Rama".
Maybe it was with that in mind my mom went with this nice cartoon theme.

And now... "The Space Years" ( subtitled: "The Sorta Star Wars Years" ). By 1976 I was into space in big way. Space exploration, rockets, the moon, astronomy, Star Trek, Space 1999 - you name it. If it had something to do with space then I was on it. So it seems unsurprising that my mom came up with this groovy hemi-spherical moon shaped cake. Multi-coloured craters ( just like the real thing! ), scientifically correct sparklers and a cut-out Apollo astronaut festooned this great cake that that made a big impact at birthday party #8.

"Houston, Eagle has landed. And it tastes great!"

By September 1977 one thing was clear. I was a full blown Star Wars freak. SW had been out for 3 1/2 months and that was all I could think about. In fact, if you could pan left in the photo below you'd see I was proudly wearing my fairly new green Star Wars shirt . I think the adults around me might have been a little slower to realize the true extent of my Star Wars psychosis however. So a wonderful rocket cake with inch thick icing exhaust flames it is.

Star Wars would have to wait until the following year to make a sweet appearance.

1978. I hit the big One-O and celebrated with this excellent movie themed cake. A virtual role call of the main character's names ( with only two spelling mistakes - a good achievement for an adult in 1978! ), the Death Star, Darth Vader and the iconic logo. What more could you ask for. Thanks mom.

Below you'll find by far the most memorable of my birthday cakes from the 7 - 12 year old period of today's post. By September of 1979 the Incredible Hulk TV program was in the middle of it's popular 5 year run, and I was an avid viewer. Although my love for Star Wars would not wane for a few more years my fascination with comic books was coming on strong. I had always loved comics, especially Richie Rich when I was younger, but it was with the release of Marvel's Star Wars adaptation that I seriously started collecting comics. From this movie tie-in I moved on to television tie-ins like The Human Fly ( based on the real-life stuntman seen on "That's Incredible", and the Canadian game show "Definition" ) and The Man From Atlantis ( I loved trying to swim like him! ). From there it was a natural progression to super hero titles like Captain Canuck and Marvel comics like The Hulk, Captain America, and soon after The Uncanny X-Men. I had lots of Hulk merchandise at the time including a TV Hulk poster, poster magazine, bendable figures , plastic mug, slide puzzle, slot car set, etc ) along with my ever-growing Hulk comic book collection. In fact, the likeness of Ol' Green Eyes that my mom used for this cake was based on a Hulk finger puppet I had!

One reason why I'll remember this jade giant cake so well is that besides being close to life size it was decorated with what had to be, at least in my sugar addled memory, almost an inch thick of creamy icing all over. And since it took my mom a ton of black food colouring to make his hair jet black ( and not just gray ) all my fellow party participants had black tongues for the rest of the day, if not the week!

In the completely inane side note department: I met the very nice Lou Ferrigno, who played the tv Hulk, in 1999 and mentioned this cake to him ( yes, yes, I know... ). He seemed to be genuinely interested in it and said I should send him a picture. Most likely he was just trying to humour a clearly deranged man until he could make a hasty retreat, but on the off-chance this blog entry ever makes it to his still slightly green-ish make-up stained eyes - this one's for you Lou.

My birthday cakes were often a surprise. I rarely knew what my cake would look like or often what the theme would be until after the strains of "Happy Birthday To You" had begun.
So I remember, although I was very happy and grateful for the wonderful cake my mom had made, being little miffed days later when I noticed that the comic from my then treasured collection that my mom had secretly used to trace the image for the cake front from ( Captain America #250 to be precise ) had obvious and deep indentation marks on the cover from the process of tracing Cap's face with a ball-point pen onto tracing paper. I'm ashamed to report I was pretty upset for the downgrading of this comic from Mint condition to only Very Fine.

Yes, I was a comic book nerd. Sorry mom.

So there we have it. 12 very cool birthday cakes made with great skill and love by my mom. The following year I ended up decorating my 13th birthday cake myself ( with an portrait of E.T. wishing me a happy birthday. Go figure. ) and from that point on my cakes had a more adult look. More Black Forest than Dark Lord of the Sith.

I always appreciated ( especially when attending other kid's parties or ever having to eat a store-bought cake ) just how much I loved my mom's creations, so I'm glad to be able to share them again. Bon appetit!

For more of her excellent work, including some of the swell cakes she made for my younger sister's birthdays ( " who wants a piece of the Smurf's right buttock?" ) check out her cake decorating Flickr set.


Todd Franklin said...

Kudos goes out to your very talented cake making mom! I love that Star Wars cake and dig the rocket and Cap cakes, but that Hulk one takes the cake! Does your mom still make cakes? If so, you might need to request a blast from the past!

Glen Mullaly said...

Thanks Todd.
She does still make cakes occasionally, but not the heavily decorated iced ones as much. I think.
I'll have to check with her on that.

Kirk D. said...

Very cool! Another Wilton household. We had some crossover cakes with the panda and Mickey, and some of the same themes too (star wars, comics). I like how both of our mothers eventually graduated from the Wilson prefab stuff and got more freehanded. The Hulk cake is excellent.

I recognize a lot of your cake toppers too, like the Indian set and the clown head. And we had plenty of sugar molds laying around.
Just this week in fact, I was perusing a 70s Wiltons catalog that somebody sent me and it sure took me back.
It even inspired me to track down a topper that my mom had, a fisherman who caught a shoe.
I'm definitely doing a Wiltons blog post one of these days.

Anyway, great post, from a fellow cake scrap junkie.

Glen Mullaly said...

Thanks for the kind words Kirk.

Yep, Wilton was well know around our parts - that fisherman with the shoe graced a few cakes my mom made for friends, and maybe a relative's or two.
My mom's collection of Wilton catalogs / annuals that went from the late 60s to the early 80s got a little wet during a bad house fire a few years back. My mom wanted to throw them out but I saved and dried them out. We're both glad I did.

Looking forward to your Wilton post!