At the end of last month, The New York Post, my favorite publication this side of Olive Oil Times and discarded issues of Highlights I have decaying in my closet, cribbed on some local reporting from the Pensacola News Journal. The Post, along with New York Magazineshortly thereafter, facetiously reported on the apparent case of a former Florida deputy cop who baked a cake for a woman he'd Tased over a year earlier.
The fable goes as such: The scuffle began over some sweet tea; the cop was arguing with his alleged victim, a worker at an apartment complex, resulting in the use of undue force in the form of Tasing her. This left her with a host of "injuries, monetary loss, medical expenses," along with emotional scars—all over some sweet tea! To rectify this nagging guilt he's had over the course of a year, the cop, according to local and national outlets alike, baked her a cake with two stick figures standing feet away from each other, one Tasing the other seemingly ceremoniously, emblazoned with the words "Sorry I Tased You."
I'd been seeing this piece shared on my social streams in earnest as the latest installment of America's crazy cake battles for a few hours before Snopes parachuted into the scene with a dose of sanity. Mere hours after the story went viral did it emerge that, while the offending stun gun incident in Florida did occur, the cop didn't take the steps to actually bake this cake for her; he simply found a photo of this cake online, texted it to her, and said he was sorry. (Wow. Beautifully played.) The origins of this cake predate this incident; they stem from an unintended act of Tasing between two cops from 2014. The photo of the cake that this incident wrought has been floating around on Google Images ever since. There is nothing terribly surprising about this episode; misinformation travels with ease and rapidity on the internet.
But I am fascinated by this recent trend in which the cakes of our lives have become the latest frontier for our warring politics. I am at once bemused and alarmed by the fact that so many latched onto this as if it were obvious fact; such is the state of cakes in this merry country. Get a load of these headlines:
Literally what is going on? This list is by no means exhaustive; it is but a sampling of our recent cake fights! In sum, my head hurts, but given this climate, I am thoroughly unsurprised that we would be so gullible as to fall for this faux reporting. It reads similar to very real headlines we've seen before.
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Did you fall for this particular instance, since proven false? When did cakes become the chosen culinary frontier for our political battlegrounds—as opposed to, say, Its-It's or Totino's Pizza Rolls? Please let me know in the comments!
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.