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That pink box with the blue stamp on top. How many children in Seattle have seen that box in the fridge, knowing that inside is their dream cake, the one their parents ordered for their birthday, just biding its time until the party started? How many weddings have peaked with faces smeared by frosting that came all neat and delicious, inside that same pink box?
Mario Borracchini started the bakery, then called the International French Bakery (which should give you an idea of how Americans viewed Italians back then) in 1922, or thereabouts. The bakery changed its name to the Ginger Bell Bakery and moved into its current location in 1939 — a Seattle neighborhood colloquially called Garlic Gulch, because it used to be full of Italian businesses.
Brothers Dino, Angelo, and Remo ran the place until Remo took over in 1965. The building is a historical site in Seattle.
A fair share of stories have taken place there. A tragedy from this year: a teenage girl shot and killed in her mother's car when they pulled up to pick up a cake. A labor dispute from a clerk who was rude to customers inspired an apparently naive, but well-meaning, toothless protest (the woman fired claimed she never received breaks, but the owners of Borracchini's were able to produce videotape of her taking breaks).
But bad stories are few when you feed sweet goodness to Seattle for so long. According to one headline and interview from 1993, on one day "13,780 people were eating our wedding cakes."
That's what I like to think about. All of those cakes out in the world. All of those cakes at all of those parties. All of those pink boxes, and all of those unskilled cake decorators who were hired by the Borracchinis, and left with that ability under their belt.
And so, maybe we should take a look at where some of those cakes might end up.
It was her fifth birthday cake, and her mother had ordered the wrong character. It was supposed to be Elsa, but an image search went wrong produced Anna, and now the whole party was potentially heading for ruin. What would she say, when they opened the box? How could they explain that there wasn't time to change it? They decided to play it straight, see if they could pass it off. So, after a rousing chorus of "Let It Go", they broke into "Happy Birthday," watching her face as they approached with the incorrect cake.
"It's a fucking scene from a bad movie," Georgia said. "I will not be in a bad movie." Sarah agreed, nodding, "No, you are not. But you know, those movies are bad because they are cliched, and cliches come from somewhere. For example, the feeling of needing to move on. Sometimes symbolism works. Sometimes taking action works. Sometimes being cliched works." Sarah opened the box, and there it was, the wedding cake that would never be served. "It does look good," Georgia said. "You haven't eaten since last night," Sarah said, handing over a fork. "One thing first," Georgia said. She took the male cake topper, and threw him out the window. "Okay. Let's eat."
It was his fifth year doing it. He'd order the smallest sheet cake he could, have a little celebration after dinner. Light a candle for himself and have a piece. It reminded him of home, that sweet sponge, that sugary frosting. Just because he was a cranky old man nobody liked didn't mean he shouldn't take a few minutes to enjoy himself. And so, he lit the candle. He just didn't expect the knock on the door to happen right then.
She had asked for the same cake every year since she was a little girl, almost thirty years — the one thing that was constant in her life. Vanilla frosting. White cake. Raspberry filling. No writing on top — she wanted it plain, austere, a field of frosting. So when he showed up on her birthday with the pink box, and he had that look on his face, she knew he had messed it up. "Baby, I'm sorry," he said. "I had to get some writing on it." She took a breath. Pursed her lips. "And what does this text say?" He grasped the box tighter. "You need to promise you'll forgive me." She shook her head. "Show me." He sighed. Closed his eyes, then after a minute opened them again. He down on one knee, and cracked the box open.
They got about forty of them around the cake, a full sheet cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. It was huge. Bunny handed out the forks, and even tried to give one to a cop, but he didn't budge, didn't look, didn't lower his baton. Didn't break formation. So, they counted down, over the chants of people behind them, and then forty forks dove for that cake. Pulling it apart, decimating it, pulling at the giant yellow words on top: RESIST! The whole thing was gone in less than four minutes.