A Brief History of the Birthday Cake

There are few things that spark joy in a person faster than the sight of a birthday cake. It represents hope for the future, it grants wishes (only if you close your eyes and don’t tell of course), and it is pretty darn yummy too! 

However, where do birthday cakes come from? Who came up with this deliciously moist, frosted treat topped with candles and celebration? If you've wondered how this tradition came to fruition, you're in luck. This article goes over the history of traditional birthday cakes.

Who Invented the Birthday Cake?

We'll need to go back to the days of ancient Rome to answer this question. They were the first to start celebrating the ordinary person's birthday. Before this, birthday celebrations were reserved for religious figures and Noblemen. 

It wasn't until a man turned 50 that he received a specialized cake. The cake was baked and consisted of honey, yeast, nuts, and wheat flour. A woman didn't get the right to celebrate birthdays until after the 12th century in Rome.

Who Thought of Putting Candles on the Cake?

The answer is the ancient Greeks. However, before they celebrated the ordinary person's birthday, the ancient Greek people put candles on cakes to worship the Greek gods. They wanted to have the cakes glow similarly to the moon.

This eventually translated to modern-day birthday cake centuries later.

The Modern Birthday Cake

The Germans were the first to start the birthday cake celebration tradition. During the 18th century, they participated in a celebration called Kinderfeste. Kinderfeste was a party to celebrate a child's day of birth.

These cakes were bread-like products with the same texture and likeness as a muffin. These cakes weren't very sweet as we know of cake today, but a sweeter version was made later called Geburstagorten.

They would celebrate in the morning with a cake topped with burning candles. The birthday boy wouldn't blow the candles out. They would leave it burning throughout the entire day. Once the chores and work were done for the day, the entire family would blow the candles out and celebrate the event by eating the cake.

The Bakery Made it Happen

Once the industrial revolution hit around 1750, mass production was available. The discovery of tin was used for pans, making mass pastry production possible. This made it possible for a cake bakery to produce many cakes at a time at a low cost. 

Once this happened, people from all classes of life could celebrate birthdays with a birthday cake.

Let's Celebrate With a Birthday Cake

What once was a bread and buns type of pastry has become an elegant celebratory food packed with various complex flavors and fun designs. Next time you are at a birthday party, you can now spill your knowledge to guests and let them know about the rich history of the modern birthday cake.

Are you looking to celebrate with a birthday cake? Our bakery has been serving the La Crosse County, Wisconsin area since 1973. If you need a special cake, contact us, and one of our master bakers will help you with your questions.  

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