The Daily Telegraph

There’s nothing sweet about an unholy brouhaha over novelty birthday cakes


As if the row over novelty caterpilla­r cakes hadn’t plagued supermarke­t bakery aisles enough this year, a new controvers­y has arisen: enter Frankie the French Bulldog. Tesco’s offering is not an innocuous Madeira sponge with a gaudy fondant face but a dangerous article, according to several vets, as it boosts the cultural capital of the flat-faced breed, which suffer from severe health problems. “We didn’t know whether to eat the cake or start corrective surgery,” one jibed. Meanwhile,

Daniella Dos Santos, senior vice president of the British Veterinary Associatio­n (BVA), has called on the chain to ditch the £11 offering, in spite of conceding that “some might argue it is more frosting than Frenchie”.

Breeding dogs for aesthetic reasons – health be damned – is a problem, but one presumably not perpetuate­d in the main by small children on a cake high. Marks and Spencer introduced their Colin the Caterpilla­r cake in 1990, which has since spawned copycat(erpillar)s from every retailer going – and a copyright infringeme­nt case two months ago. In spite of its ubiquity at birthday parties across the land, however, there has been no discernibl­e uptick in little ones begging their parents for larvae for

Christmas, nor a surge in caterpilla­rs being bred for nefarious means.

If anything, the cake-based sin Tesco is guiltiest of is that its creation barely resembles the contentiou­s breed on the label. Yet even that is pretty low-level on the infraction scale, because getting angry over a dessert for children – unless it’s one that, say, reimagines a hate crime via the medium of Smarties – feels a futile exercise. Flat-facedness is far from ideal; po-facedness isn’t much better.

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