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Have your cake

The first few times Grouting was sent forth from a child's birthday party with a slice of cake wrapped up in a paper napkin, I assumed it was an oversight. They'd forgotten to bring wax paper or tin foil or whatever for wrapping the slice of decorated sponge cake.

But no. Clearly this is ensconced tradition. With a single exception where the grandmother made sure we were all offered cake to eat at the birthday party itself, Grouting has consistently been sent away from her cohort's parties with cake wrapped in a paper napkin.

I knew about being sent off with slices of fruit cake from weddings, but fruit cake lasts in a way that sponge - especially iced sponge which sticks to paper napkins - does not. Marzipan holds up better than the frequently-encountered buttercream on birthday cakes.

This is a baffling tradition to someone who'd rather just eat the cake at the party when it's fresh. Unless a gift bag with bonus paper+cake is excavated promptly, it goes rapidly stale, and is already sticky. And it's really easy to forgot to do it promptly if, for whatever reason, one's offspring is not inclined to lead the way on doing so that particular day.

How long as this been a tradition in England or further afield? And WHY?

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
bugshaw
Jul. 7th, 2015 04:42 pm (UTC)
Napkins are free! Foil is rare and expensive!
gillo
Jul. 7th, 2015 05:36 pm (UTC)
Well, you've bought them for the party anyway. I don't recall us having foil or vast quantities of greaseproof even when I was very small. I suspect it's just something that rolls on from one generation to the next as something you do without thinking about.
owlfish
Jul. 7th, 2015 06:27 pm (UTC)
Since the dawn of time?
gillo
Jul. 7th, 2015 10:02 pm (UTC)
Eons ago at least; back when I was a child and beyond. It may date back to the days of rationing, when a piece of the cake could be taken home to share with the family. There is also the practical thought that a child full of excitement and junk food may not have room for cake without the whole lot making an unwelcome return visit. Sending a piece home satisfies honour on all sides.
alexmc
Jul. 7th, 2015 04:56 pm (UTC)
I think it has always been traditional to offer cake in a paper napkin, and taking it away is just an extension of that.

yes, it is dumb.
bugshaw
Jul. 7th, 2015 05:26 pm (UTC)
Plates are rare and expensive!
owlfish
Jul. 7th, 2015 06:27 pm (UTC)
Although they always manage to rustle some up for savoury food beforehand.

Edited at 2015-07-07 06:27 pm (UTC)
sushidog
Jul. 7th, 2015 05:31 pm (UTC)
It was certainly commonplace when I was a kid, late 70s/early 80s.
gillo
Jul. 7th, 2015 05:34 pm (UTC)
It was certainly a tradition as long ago as the late 50s/early 60s when I went to parties. I have no idea why.
pennski
Jul. 7th, 2015 08:03 pm (UTC)
I think the change has been from fruit cake (which I like) to sponge cake (which is all too often covered in cream).
Guess which one survives napkins better?

Oh and yes - foil is still considered a rare and expensive delicacy.
bohemiancoast
Jul. 7th, 2015 11:13 pm (UTC)
Dawn of time; and it's been sponge cake at children's birthday parties at least since I was a child. The taking away though; the implication is that all the children have gorged themselves on the various other treats at party tea, and are therefore not capable of eating cake at the time.
sam_t
Jul. 8th, 2015 08:49 am (UTC)
Yes, this.
the_lady_lily
Jul. 8th, 2015 01:56 pm (UTC)
It was a tradition when I was a small child, although further back than that I cannot go...
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )