"Between the Food Network's Ace of Cakes and Cupcake Wars, TLC's Cake Boss, Ultimate Cake-Off, and DC Cupcakes, and WE-TV's Amazing Wedding Cakes and Wedding Cake Wars, we are undoubtedly living in what Current TV calls, with only a tinge of sarcasm, 'the golden age of cake television.'
Who among us knew, for example, that Rice Crispy Treats provide reliable structural foundations for life-size confections, or that chocolate comes in a flexible consistency akin to plasticine? Or that fondant—that smooth-as-glass icing that graces the surfaces of so many layered masterpieces—can be stretched and torqued and thinned to quarter-inch perfection through a giant metal machine? There are airbrushes and carving tools and colors not found in nature, sheer pastes and gilt powders and best of all, digital printers that, improbably, produce perfect little edible photographs.But what does this outpouring of cake decoration say about our society?
It's easy to dismiss these fondant fancies as text book examples of capitalist decadence. But for Helfand, the rise of cake decoration is symptomatic of "the degree to which the civilian world has, in the last decade, become a population of artistic wannabes." The popularity of frosting voyeurism, and the allied explosion of the cake decorating tools at art supply stores across the country, reveal, she says, two assumptions that underpin contemporary American culture: 'that everyone either is or aspires to be creative' and that 'all of us have a sweet tooth.'"