Happy National Carrot Cake Day (2/3)

Betty Crocker’s carrot cake recipe calls for all the things you’d expect to find in something so delicious, like sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, cream cheese and walnuts. You know, all the real yummy stuff?  What’s crazy is, it also calls for three cups of shredded carrots.  Yeah, it’s called carrot cake, but come on!  Carrots?  When I clicked around on a bunch of other recipes, I was shocked to find that carrots were in all of them.

That carrots are actually in carrot cake just doesn’t work in my brain.  Fruit is what goes in desserts, not vegetables.  There are no cucumber pies, spinach cakes, or radish crunch ice creams.  In fact, I can’t name a single other vegetable based dessert.  What could possible have possessed people to put carrots in a cake?

History suggests that if we venture back to Europe’s middle ages (which is about as pinpoint as documenting that George W. Bush was President in the 2000s), we’ll find that carrots were being used as a natural sweetener because any and all of the good stuff was wicked expensive and hard to come by.  So, if the moms of the 99% wanted to give Junior a happy birthday, his cake was going to have to be sweetened with a root instead of a grain.

Fast forward to the hippy dippy 1960’s when, if it came from the ground, it was going to be ingested somehow, then BAM! the carrot cake is all the rage.

That’s the stuff I didn’t know about carrot cake.  This is what I did know:

  • There’s no such thing as a bad one because sugar is back in that bad boy
  • The icing is made from a heavenly combo of sugar and cream cheese
  • There’s usually a picture of a carrot drawn on top in orange and green icing

Fresh Market in Tallahassee, FL

Since the 1960’s were responsible for taking the carrot cake to the big time, I thought my best bet for an authentic sample would be from one of these organic grocery stores where all the remaining 1960s hippies shop.

Fresh Market’s bakery slid me a tin with 2-slices of what the label read to be Collosal Carrot cake, and they were of course, amazing.  Attractive, moist, sweet, everything today’s holiday should be about.  Remember, there’s some real “meh” carrot cake out there.  Just like toilet paper, the good kind’s worth the extra dollar or so.

As I ate the cake, something still scrunched my brain a little.   Do carrots really make a difference now that we’ve added back in all the sugars?  If I continue to be curious after today, I’ll do the experiment, but I’m willing to bet the only thing the carrot effects is the color and that subtle crunch… maybe the guilt.

(See you Saturday for National Home Made Soup Day!)

— Incidentally, I learned there are cakes made w/spinach and cucumber, but they look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.


About Jim Clark

"If it was worth doing, then it is worth writing!" -- Jim Clark -- Someone else probably said that before, and I'm sure that each semester she starts her Creative Writing 101 class by writing it on the board, but I never took that lady's class so I am taking her quote! I work in the world of advertising, but I write for a living. Here in the second decade of the '00s, we find ourselves in a culture where virtually everyone writes for a living. With all the clicking and clacking on Facebook, Twitter, emails and texts, our lives are more than ever intertwined with writing. At the same time, it's also become increasingly more important to shorten our thoughts down to as few characters as possible. So, now, more than ever, I think it's also important to hold a place in our lives for expanding and honing our thoughts through writing. This is my place for that.
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