On July 8th, as Covid-19 spread rapidly through Florida, Texas, and South Carolina; the Arctic Circle caught fire; and Salman Rushdie and J.K. Rowling joined forces to decry “cancel culture” in Harper’s magazine, the food website Tasty reposted a clip compilation of cakes

These cakes were not normal cakes, or rather, they were hyper-normal. A Croc sandal, a potted plant, a roll of toilet paper, a bottle of lotion: when sliced open with a knife, these everyday objects were revealed as cake. The video quickly went viral, with people both amazed, and a little upset, by the fondant creations. Was everything we think is real actually just...cake?

Of course, a meme was born.

 

 

The cake meme quickly reached saturation point when mattress company Casper made it into an ad. Capitalism had claimed yet another victim. This time it was hyper-realistic cake. 

Tasty, known for its bird’s eye videos of recipes, often made with bizarre combinations of ingredients, took a few days to credit the creator of these uncanny cakes: an award-winning Turkish pastry chef named Tuba Geçkil, known for her 3-D bust cakes (including this one of Angela Merkel). 

Answering questions over What’s App with the aid of her assistant, Haltice, Geçkil says the international recognition feels nice after over a decade of creating cake sculpture. “I’m so happy and glad everyone knows my works,” Geçkil says. “It’s my dream come true.” 

Geçkil recently won four gold medals in the IKA Olympic Germany competition for Realistic 3D Simulating Cakes. “It was an amazing [few] minutes,” she says. “Hearing my name called so many times. I cried a lot. I will never forget that moment.”

So, what is it about the cakes that has captured the American imagination? What is the source of the Soylent Green-esque paranoia that nothing is real, that everything is cake? The cakes, for sure, exist in the same uncanny valley as virtual influencers like Lil Miquela — just realistic enough to send a shiver of revulsion down one’s spine. It’s a horror movie trope we see again and again, whether it’s uppity wives being replaced with sex-bots, Ana De Armas’ Blade Runner character glitching every so often, or Lakeith Stanfield warning Daniel Kaluuyah to get out.

But for Americans in this moment, there is also something gratifying about the idea that maybe nothing is as it appears. The President of the United States tweets lies on a daily basis; the veracity of video footage capturing Black men being murdered by the police is called into question; the modes of treatment, contagion, and testing for Covid-19 seem to change on a near daily basis. But what if it were all just a terrible dream, a mistake made by a time traveler, a snag in the multiverse?

What if we sliced into the man ranting about masks in a Costco and discovered he was just made of cake this whole time? What if the long national nightmare of gaslighting, Zoom birthdays, and—this, of course, is really it—lonely painful deaths at the hand of the state (whether on a respirator or while asleep in your own home) was all just a mixture of flour, sugar, and eggs?

Betsy DeVos: made of cake.

Elon Musk: made of cake. 

The entire state of Florida? Definitely cake.

For the record, Geçkil says that in her experience the only time anyone had been freaked out by her cakes was when her young children once saw them in the dark.