Spoiler Alert: After you read this article, you may never eat a birthday cake again!
BY NABANITA DUTT
Would you eat a cake, after a birthday celebrant with diseased gums and chronic bad breath had blown all the candles on it? Awkward question, if you really love birthday cakes. Annoying question, because when you think about it, the answer is obviously: no!
But here’s the regrettable truth. At a birthday party gathering, at least 25 per cent of invited guests visualize a stream of saliva raining down on the cake, which is then cut neatly into wedges and served to them on a plate.
Some people hate birthday cakes for fear of germs transmitted by saliva, such as flu, mononucleosis and herpes. Others mention the multiple breaths needed to blow out candles, which, when you consider all the laughter and excitement surrounding the event, can reasonably add up to a significant quantity of spittle.
Since the 18th Century, when the Germans first stuck candles into cake during Kinderfest, the tradition has become deeply ingrained as part of birthday celebrations the world over. The idea is people sing their birthday good wishes for the celebrant, which gets carried away by the candle smoke to reach invisible powers of the universe who make wishes come true.
Now, if you imagine the silent discomfort of a section of these well-wishers, who are unintentionally sullying the purity of the intent with grey plumes of negative energy, the picture is not pretty.
It may just be a good idea therefore, to not use trick relighting birthday candles that would arguably cause this issue of hygiene to escalate in many people’s minds. After all, you do want your guests to feel comfortable and enjoy the party, so why prolong the candle-blowing ceremony with wax sticks that keep relighting themselves, requiring many extra attempts at blowing and…Well, you know…
WANT A PIECE OF `BLOWCAKE’?
A birthday cake that has been sprayed with saliva cooties is called a “blowcake”. For example: “Now that Jake has blown all his 45 birthday candles, I’m not sure I want a piece of his blowcake.”
HOW AUSTRALIANS ARE KEEPING THEIR BIRTHDAY CAKES CLEAN
Taking the hatred and fear of `germy’ cakes a ridiculous step further, Australia – the Bluebeard of Birthdays — has actually banned the practice of blowing on communal birthday cake candles. Since 2013, Australian kids have lost the pleasure, and the year’s biggest photo-op moment, of being under the spotlight, with their friends singing and cheering as they blow out their candles.
This ban by Australia’s National Health And Medical Research Council, however, is balanced with a bite-sized piece of consolation. Parents have been offered the suggestion that they provide individual cupcakes to the attending children, and keep the whole party proceedings nicely sanitized and de-germified. Like an operating room.