Saturday, August 13, 2016

Clown heads done "right"

A few weeks ago, Cake Wrecks ran a side-splitting post about those little plastic clown heads cake decorators sometimes throw onto cakes in an attempt to make them look... I don't know... hilariously creepy seems to be the only effect those heads are really capable of creating, and I'm pretty sure that's not what the decorators are going for. Anyway, I loved that post, but it kept nagging at me. Those clown heads seemed like I remembered them from childhood-- but where? My grandma decorated cakes, but she knew I didn't like clowns, so she never made me a clown cake for my birthday. I watched her decorate cakes for other people, but they were mostly wedding or graduation cakes. I was pretty sure nobody had ordered a clown-themed wedding cake. (That's fun to imagine, though! Pop a couple of clown heads in between the roses or next to the swan-shaped cake pillars and you've got a surreal wedding cake...) Then I remembered the trove of 1970s Wilton Yearbooks I loved so much that Grandma gave them to me when her arthritis got too bad and she gave up cake decorating. Maybe I remembered the clown heads from those?

Yup! This picture from the 1974 Wilton Yearbook is the closest you can come to using those clown heads the "right" way, and I am not entirely convinced by it. The big fat mounds of saggy frosting try to look like clown bodies, and the white accents suggest hands, feet, and buttons, but they are not enough to dispel the suggestion that these tipsy clowns are ready to fall (farther?) off the wagon at any moment, or at least collapse under their own weight.

And that marks the only instance where clown heads would logically make sense.

Most of them are simply sprouting out of the ground for no apparent reason, as these from the 1973 yearbook:

Why not have a row of clown heads just off to the side of the merry-go-round? It will give the horses a goal-- to break free and kick a clown head into the horrified bystanders... or at least, into the pink elephants. (As you will see, Wilton loved pink elephants and clowns together-- which seems to confirm my suspicion about the clowns falling off the wagon.)

Lazier cake decorators (or ones lacking the merry-go-round topper) might opt for this nonsensical creation from 1970/'71:

(Sorry for the missing corner, but grandma used the hell out of these books. Some of them are falling apart, and they all still smell like powdered sugar!)

The clown heads sprouting out in front of the row of candles somehow makes this seem like a Monty Python animation of some sort. I half-expect a little girl to pick the clown heads like flowers and make a bouquet of them, sniff them, sneeze, and send the clown and pink elephant heads sailing into an entirely separate sketch.

For those who prefer the more elaborately weird setups, there is this 1974 creation. The little wooden-looking animals on top are quite charming, but then the bottom tier is once again surrounded by creepy clown heads. Even better, these appear ripe for the kicking-- The creepy clown pillars (Is the cake supposed to be their head? Are they bitter to be headless bodies surrounded by out-of-scale disembodied heads?) can kick them into the always-waiting pink elephants.

And last, coning to us straight from 1970/'71 to show that non-pink elephants had to do all the hard work:

Here is a dolled-up gray elephant jumping through a fiery hoop so she can maul all those clown heads growing in the brown sugar sawdust. Step on them, Jumbo! Why should the pink elephants get all the fun?

Since these ideas all came straight from Wilton, we know that these are apparently the approved uses of clown heads... and the success of these approaches are... uh... debatable at best. Is it any wonder the off-label uses are even funnier?

Happy Saturday! Your assignment this weekend is to drink just enough to see pink elephants, but not so much that you will have nightmares about clown heads. Good luck!


  1. I think I'll be having nightmares about this all week! The red clown in the first picture looks like a drunken, murderous clown.

    1. And he is one of the few clowns with a body, so he can ACT on his impulses...

  2. Oh, my! these are all very special, but the third picture down, with the frosting stripes around the sides of the cake....a lady I worked with fancied herself a great cake decorator, and on special occasions she would bring in some sad, awful, smeary mess of a cake she made. She was SO proud of her artistic talent, and we all kind of complimented her efforts (even though it looked like a dog's dinner).

    1. That had to be fun. "Why yes, that does look... delightful?"