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What flavor is ‘birthday cake’?

3 Musketeers has released its first new taste in six years. It is called “Birthday Cake,” and according to the press release, it features “vanilla-flavored nougat and colorful sprinkles covered in rich milk chocolate.”

This definitely seems cake-inspired, with some cakes being vanilla and others having sprinkles. I concur; I, too, have eaten similar pastries. I have also eaten chocolate cakes, though, that I believed were birthday cakes, and red velvet birthday cakes, and once a rum cake that was also in commemoration of aging.

Is there a type of cake that is for birthdays? Is it possible that I’ve been celebrating birthdays incorrectly? When did we conclude that “birthday cake” tasted different from “graduate cake” or “bat mitzvah cake”?

There is a huge number of items made to taste like birthday cake. Oreo, for example, created a limited-edition birthday cake Oreo in 2012 to commemorate the brand’s 100th birthday. The Huffington Post described them as having a “strong vanilla aroma” and tasting like “someone slathered an Oreo with vanilla frosting out of a can.” (This is a compliment.) It had “flecks of rainbow sprinkles” like the Three Musketeers.

A year later, USA Today reported that at least 17 “birthday-cake flavored new products” had recently hit the market, including, but not limited to, Good Humor birthday cake bars and party cake Peeps. The birthday cake M&M, which was advertised cryptically as “delicious milk chocolate laced with birthday cake taste,” debuted in 2014.

Birthday cake has continued to grow throughout time: Airheads, the candy fashioned like a slap bracelet, introduced a birthday cake flavor in 2016 to commemorate its own birthday. “The second you bite into this item, your mouth simply floods with saliva,” one poet-reviewer wrote of the experience, “but at least it’s cake-flavored saliva.” That year, the New York Times announced the coming of the “Funfetti Explosion.” To be clear, funfetti is essentially the same as other renditions of birthday cake: a yellow foundation with rainbow sprinkles thrown throughout.

Now there are birthday cake Red Vines, which are counterintuitive in that they are not red (technically, they are twistettes), and birthday cake Auntie Anne’s pretzels, which are surprising because they are pretzels. According to Nielsen, sales of the flavor “birthday cake” have increased by “more than 29 percent since 2017.”

“The birthday cake flavor is vanilla cake and sprinkles mixed in,” offers a representative for Halo Top, which makes a birthday-flavored frozen dessert. “The taste profile like eating vanilla cake batter with sprinkles!”

“I think it means box-mix or grocery store yellow cake that tastes mostly like butter, egg yolks, sugar, and lots of artificial vanilla extract,” says Kristen Miglore, the creative director at Food52 and author of Genius Desserts. The bright sprinkles don’t add much taste, but they “really hammer home the party sentiments visually.”

Annette Warrell-Jones, marketing manager at the Warrell Corporation, a candy manufacturer that is, at this very moment, working on a “natural birthday cake-flavored” cotton candy, agrees that in her estimation, the flavor of birthday cake is essentially vanilla batter. Birthday cake is vanilla, everyone agrees. Sprinkles are on the birthday cake.

I’m curious when we all agreed this, but no one will tell me. It’s simply the way the universe works. It’s what a birthday is all about.

“Our mission is to spread small moments of joy with our fans and this latest flavor brings that celebratory feeling to the everyday,” the 3 Musketeers press release patiently explains. It occurs to me at this point that it would be difficult for 3 Musketeers to release a chocolate birthday cake bar, since 3 Musketeers bars are chocolate already. It comes to me that “yellowcake” is a kind of concentrated uranium as well.

Leah Morrow, executive pastry chef of the Williamsburg Hotel and Brooklyn Bread Lab, suggests the tyranny of yellow cake with sprinkles stems from our collective longing for lost youth. “It is nostalgic to see something cream-colored with flecks of color, like a vanilla cake with vanilla icing and sprinkles,” she says. It is not necessary for birthday cake to remind you of your youth in particular, but just of your childhood. Childhood is a notion.

“It has a children’s taste, and children love to celebrate birthdays,” Warrell-Jones advises. Birthday cake, as a taste, is the most basic kind of birthday cake, pleasantly simplistic, with primary colors. Birthday cake is simple and beautiful, and in an ironic twist of anti-aging, it reminds us all of when we were simple and beautiful as well.

“I think a birthday cake is one baked particularly for the person whose birthday it is!” Morrow informs me. Yet, as we’ve discovered, birthday cake (cake) and birthday cake (taste) are not the same thing.

Birthday cake is associated with a common mythology. It’s the standard all-American cake, just as the golden retriever is the standard all-American dog. Unlike yellowcake, it has no war baggage; unlike wedding cake, it comes with no responsibilities. It’s gloriously uncomplicated. That’s exactly the purpose.

Related Questions

  • Why is it called birthday cake flavor?

    The birthday cake concept known today originated in medieval Germany where cakes were baked for children’s birthdays during Kinderfest. Cakes evolved from a grainy, bread-like product to the more sweeter form Geburtstagstorten.

  • What is the most common birthday cake flavor?

    Salted caramel cake is the most popular birthday cake flavor. As salted caramel becomes more and more popular in desserts, it makes sense that the flavor would become a popular choice for birthday cake flavors. Generally, these tastes resemble a served dessert rather than a typical cake.

  • Which flavor is best for birthday cake?

    Top 7 Flavor of Cakes to Celebrate Birthday

    1. Cake with chocolate truffles. This is a classy cake that can make anyone feel outstanding.
    2. Pineapple Cake. The pineapple cakes have been added to the list of happy birthday cakes.
    3. Vanilla Cake.
    4. Red Velvet Cake.
    5. Butterscotch Cake.
    6. Black Forest Cake.
    7. Strawberry Cakes.
  • What is the difference between birthday cake and regular cake?

    A birthday cake is a cake eaten in conjunction with a birthday celebration. Birthday cakes are often layer cakes topped with little lighted candles reflecting the celebrant’s age. Cupcakes, cake pops, pastries, and tarts are some of the variations.