“Cake Wars”: chaos and cake… but mostly chaos

by Amélia Ávila (’24) | March 1, 2020

Food and TV are two of my favorite things—so when combined, they usually make an entertaining combination (keyword: usually). Food Network’s Cake Wars, an apparent rip-off of the more popular Cupcake Wars, has been airing since 2015, even though it was canceled two years later. Maybe fans called it quits after seeing chaos unfold in the kitchen (yet again) or because of the judges’ debatable calls. Between the cringe-worthy puns, questionable judging, and unavoidable drama, Cake Wars is definitely an “acquired taste.”

In Cake Wars, four teams of two contestants compete for $10,000 and a chance to promote their business at a prestigious event. In each episode, the bakers have to stick to a theme like “Shrek” or “The Simpsons.” This high-stakes competition consists of two rounds. In the first round, called “batter up,” each contestant and his or her assistant bake a cake given a theme. In the final round, the contestants “go big or go home.” When the winner is determined, the winning cake is driven to a party for all guests to enjoy.

When hiring for the show, Food Network decided to do the classic “hire a grown-up child actor and hope for the best” and hired Mean Girls alum Jonathan Bennett as the host. Let’s just say he’s no Steve Harvey. His terrible, scripted jokes receive forced laughter from judges Ron Ben Israel, Waylynn Lucas, and Richard Ruskell, who aren’t the best judges either; in fact, many reviews call the judges “rude and condescending.” Regarding the awkward jokes and the judges’ annoying behavior, IMDb user “teaguemcmartin” says, “The judging criteria could be improved, […]  [judges] could be more endearing and the format could be more original. However, the awkward energy of the host and his poorly timed puns are what ultimately sink this show.” 

But the judges and host are not the only underwhelming aspect of the show. Contestants can come across as hyper-competitive and snobby at times. To put it bluntly, contestants trash talk. At least one baker cries every episode (and not tears of happiness). Dropping cakes after hours of hard work is a regular occurrence. Sure, the cakes look magnificent, but unlike The Great British Bake Off, Cake Wars allows contestants to use wood, PVC pipes, and plastic to “structure their cake.” Hate to break it to you, but covering a piece of wood with fondant does not make it a cake. Often, bakers use a thin layer of cake and rice crispy treats and metal pipes covered in fondant to make extravagant decorations that look “larger than life.” Don’t get me wrong—Cake Wars is fun to watch once in a while. But in this case, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Categories: Food

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s