April 15, 2011

Is This The Oldest Gender Reveal Cake Party On YouTube?

OK, let's face it, finding out about such a thing as gender reveal cakes at this late date really calls my credibility as a dadblogger into question.

So in the interest of making up for lost time, I am going to try and get to the bottom of this. Because WTF, PEOPLE???

Ultrasound techs texting your friends? And really, why the pink and the blue? Why CAKE CUTTING? Is it a wedding thing? Is there some medieval symbolism here that is driving classics teachers and sociologists mad with glee? If you're gonna go with cake, why not go balls out, so to speak, and order a genitalia-shaped cake? It's not for lack of erotic bakeries. Or open a box of snacks; is it gonna be fortune cookies or Slim Jims?

I've watched a dozen or so gender reveal party videos on the YouTube tonight. All of them have been for second kids. Is this what happens when the novelty has completely worn off?

Where did this start? "Gender Reveal' sounds like a media concoction somehow. Is it a reality TV thing?

That is definitely the model for the pregnancy vloggers, who deliver their "gender reveals" into a webcam.

Holy smokes, just watched this one--after a pre-roll 90-second Foot Locker/Nike Air commercial. A segment from a pregnancy advice YouTube channel about gender reveal cakes and stillbirth. Could I ever write or direct a scene like this? Hell, could I even imagine this assemblage of emotional notes in one take? No, I could not. This is the media of the future, uploaded last February.

Which brings me to my question right now, where did this gender reveal cake thing start? Because this is the oldest cake reveal video I can find on YouTube, and it's only from May 2008. It's fascinating, though, pretty raw, refreshingly uncrafty and unproduced. The cake's from the Safeway in Wenatchee. The knife-wielding mom is great, too, snapping at the older kid, and ordering the camera off the damn cake and back where it belongs, on her.

She feels the need to explain what's going on to her assembled audience, but it's pretty clear she's not inventing cake reveals right there in the backyard. So we must push back further in time. Somewhere, maybe in a 2004 momblog post, or a 2005 issue of Atlanta Parent, lies the ur-gender cake story. And then The Future can send Bruce Willis back in time to stop it, and maybe the whole thing will have never happened.

UPDATE Alright, we're making progress, and the answer is at least a partial yes for reality TV. In the comments below, ETM mentions/admits to seeing the Duggars having the Cake Boss make a gender reveal cake, which they sliced open on the Today Show. I think this is significant.

But.

The expectant Duggars in question were the son and his wife. We're really talking about the third generation of a family to appear on TLC, which is as depressing as it sounds. Here is a YouTube video 2/3 from that episode, in which the idea is hatched.

And that's the problem, because it apparently comes from Mama Duggar, who told her daughter-in-law about the bakery in town [in Wherever, Arkansas, I guess] that you could send your ultrasound results to, and they'd make a cake. So the gender reveal cake was already a product by the time the Duggars pretended they had no idea how the Today Show had heard about their impending ultrasound, or how their nice friend at TLC just happened to suggest the cake guy from their other, new show.

Also, all this went down in 2009, which is still after the Wenatchee Safeway video above. So while the TLC x TLC x NBC mashup no doubt pushed the gender reveal cake into the popular consciousness--and helped turn it into an over-elaborate, crafty thing, beyond the purview of lowly grocery store bakeries--it was a pre-existing condition. The Duggars are vector and a carrier, but not the source.

6 Comments

Congratulations to the family on the second video! Another little hunting-assistant for the dad to smack around.

(Oh sorry. SPOILER ALERT.)

Are there forums where ultrasound techs hang out? Maybe you could ask there to see if anyone remembers being involved in an early gender cake reveal? (Or other more exotic reveal setups?)

Okay, I am ridiculously ashamed to admit that I know this, but this just might be the Duggar family's fault (just add it to a long list, right?). I think I remember seeing some sort of Today Show segment or TLC special - the Cake Boss met the Duggar family and baked them a cake to reveal the gender of one of the (in utero) kids live on the air - not sure how long ago or which kid it was (#45?) but there was definitely coloured cake!

And if skywriting gender reveals take off (pun not intended), the Duggars can be blamed.

Not that I, ahem, watch that show, mumble mumble, no way. Ahem.

Remarkable. It's as if by the 19th or 20th kid, not only does it not matter whether the next one's a boy or a girl, it doesn't matter what their name is ["something starting with J"]; the only drama left is how they're going to do the reveal.

This might explain why these reveal parties happen for second children. I wish I were looking for a sociology research subject right now, because this dissertation feels like it'd write itself.

where do you come up with this stuff, Greg? Every time I think I've OD'd on all the parenting & baby stuff there is out there, you manage to dig something like this up. Watch the NYT Style section write something up on gender reveal cakes next year ;)

That first video, wow.

FWIW, in July 2007 my husband's brother & his wife had a reveal party/BBQ for their first pregnancy, they were having twins. So I don't think it's necessarily for second children... we weren't at the BBQ (lived on the opposite coast, and I was on a mission trip in Mexico that day anyway, LOL), so I have no idea if the reveal was done via cake or just an announcement. I'd never heard of a gender reveal cake until last night, I was watching some cake show on one of the cable networks. Thought it was an odd request and changed the channel, little did I know!

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