Plastic Vs Fantastic – Store Bought Or Homemade?


I recently got into a debate on the topic of store bought character cakes versus handmade creations from a qualified cake decorator. Where do you stand?  Is it OK?

So the short version of the argument was this. They (un-named highly opinionated person on a public forum) thought that store bought character cakes that retail for around $20 are choc loaded with preservatives and are stale horrible tasting chemical filled creations that should never be served at a party.

My argument :

– Those store bought cakes are for “Special Birthday Occasions”.

– A few preservatives once a year are not going to kill anyone. (We are exposed to chemicals daily anyway right?).

– They are an affordable option for struggling families.

-Children don’t care how cake tastes – as long as it doesn’t taste like green vegetables it’s a winner.

So why did I get into an argument about it ? Because I don’t think it’s fair to make the Mother who has no creative bone in her body feel guilty for buying a cake. Just because a Mother doesn’t want to spend $300 on having a professional make a cake for their 2 year old who will probably sleep through 90% of the party anyway is no reason to put a “stigma” onto these cakes.

I usually try to make my own cakes not because I don’t want to serve something from a store . But because my children don’t pick party themes that are available in a store.  (Dainty Disco, One Direction, Beach Party).  My Children are lucky enough to get a party every year. (so far anyways). I can not justify spending $150 on a cake when their parties probably only cost $200 in total (My husband is reading this *wink wink*).

So what are your thoughts? Just because its not OK for you does that mean it’s not OK for everyone?


  1. Janice says

    As a mom who always felt “not so creative” I cannot find fault with what other moms chose to do. In the final analysis how will our children remember us? Most probably for the ways we treated others when our opinions differed. We never had money enough for professionally done cakes for birthdays. Sometimes I made from scratch and sometimes used a mix.
    While there are issues of bullying, children who don’t get enough to eat in our nation shouldn’t we change our focus to things that really matter?
    Whether we buy or make a birthday cake is about the recipient, remembering the life being celebrated. Enjoy them while you can.

  2. Laura G.Turcotte says

    I see both sides. Store bought is ok for some things,(although I had tasted some God awful store bought cakes) whereas homemade is great for others. Personally for me at this point in time, I make all my own cakes, because I am a SAHM, and money can be tight. And also because my kids usually want a cake that is no available in store. (dang Pinterest!lol) ut it’s to each their own, I say.

  3. Donna says

    “So what are your thoughts? Just because its not OK for you does that mean it’s not OK for everyone?”

    Boy, these words seems to be making the rounds everywhere this week – especially Facebook – on all kinds of subjects.

    Sure it’s ok to buy a cake. I can’t tell you how many times I had so wanted to make one but with three kids and a full time job, it just wasn’t possible.

    So, to the ones who just can’t do it, don’t beat yourself up. Something tells me your kids won’t become juvenile delinquents just because you couldn’t bake a cake. :-)

  4. Brooke Brandow says

    Do not out spend your budget on cake! As a mother of two grown children I have experience. You can decorate cupcakes with toys and colorful sprnkles. Cake mix, homemade or store, gluten free or vegan bought many.possibilities.
    Getting something sweet & colorful is all they need.

  5. Michele says

    I’ve had some decent tasting store bought cakes, but then again, I’m not exactly in that income range where I could afford to pay a professional. I can say, though, that after speaking with the people who make those store bought cakes, I don’t think the mixes they use are too different than what a professional would use, though I did not speak with any one else. Cake mix is cake mix, for the most part, so unless it’s made from scratch, not a big difference as far as additives and chemicals. I guess it comes down to this: if you have it like that such that you can pay $150 for a cake, more power to you, count your blessings, but don’t look down your nose at those of us who can’t justify it. Even if I did have it like that, I think I would rather spend it on presents…. lol

  6. says

    I think it’s another to breast feed or not to breast feed discussions. To work or to stay at home. It’s always should be up to individual mother to mind her own business. While some mothers have talents and resources of martha Stewart herself while some other don’t. And why should one is sinful while the other is glorious?

  7. Mary Landau says

    In my family, we are not too fond of cake so instead I bake brownies for my kids’ birthday parties. Super quick, easy and inexpensive. To decorate the brownies, we use some of their toys that fit with party’s theme (Playmobil, Fisher Price, army men…). My kids have always enjoyed this as their birthday ‘cake.’

  8. says

    As one of those custom cake bakers – I totally agree. If you have $300 to spend on your child’s 2nd birthday cake – Yay! If not, so what? A party is about the people who are there, not the fabulous cake. Of course I would love it if everyone could afford one of my incredible creations. But – they can’t. And that’s ok. And (don’t tell anyone) some grocery store frostings are actually pretty tasty. :)

  9. Susan Michael says

    I have always made and decorated the cake myself because it is cheaper and I can decorate it with a theme that I want instead of just what is offered. For what you get the store bought cakes are way over priced. designer cakes are wonderful but who can afford to spend more on a cake than on a presant? Over the years my cakss are not so complex. My oldest just turned 20. But, my youngest is just 2 so I have many years of cake making ahead. Last year we did buy a bakery “specialty” cake with strawberries for my daughter – because I had a cold – the cake was fine but still under $20.

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