I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the pandemic has been hard on some people.
So it was that last year, my wife and I decided to do something special for Thanksgiving. The difficulty, however, lay in the fact that the reason it was hard on us in particular is that we couldn’t safely go anywhere or do anything, which made it somewhat tricky to find anything special to do.
Enter the PieCaken.
You may have heard of a turducken, or three bird roast, which is a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey stuffed into why the hell does anyone do this? I mean, I’ve never had it, but I can’t imagine why anyone would ruin a perfectly good chicken and duck with a turkey. I can only assume that the main draw is that it’s fun to say “turducken,” which is a portmaneau of turkey, duck, and chicken.
Someone must’ve liked it, though, to base a dessert on it. The PieCaken is a pair of pies stuffed into a cake stuffed into…a…chicken, I suppose, if words mean anything anymore. There is some dispute as to the actual origin of the PieCaken, but I won’t try to evaluate the credibility of anyone’s claims to the monstrosity since, frankly, I don’t give a shit.
There are, of course, recipes to make your own piecaken, but I can’t be bothered, and we managed to save some money during the pandemic anyway by…again…not going anywhere or doing anything…so we just bought one online.
It’s a three layer cake, where the bottom layer is a pecan pie, the middle layer is a pumpkin pie, and the top layer is spice cake, all held together by a cinnamon buttercream. The pointless decadence of the thing was just what we needed (and, of course, our son Liam fell in love with the bizarre thing).
Last Thanksgiving came and went, and the pandemic dragged on. Christmas took care of itself (presents are great, right?), but by the time the Fourth of July rolled around and we were still cooped up, we came looking for another hit.
Obviously, we wouldn’t want a bunch of fall-themed stuff in the middle of summer. But fear not: the PieCaken Bakeshop sells patriotism, too! The Red, White & Blueberry PieCaken. Red velvet cake, vanilla cheesecake, wild blueberry pie, with lemon frosting.
We’d had such a delightful experience the first time that we decided to go for it. We were excited. Liam was excited. We timed our order to arrive right before Fourth of July weekend (we intentionally timed it that way because the thing is beast, and our fridge isn’t that big), and it arrived exactly when we’d planned.
Incidentally, if you’re wondering how they keep it fresh during shipment, the answer is a combination of thorough packaging and dry ice. They carefully label the bag of dry ice with a label that says not to touch it with your bare hands, since that stuff is very cold.
Naturally, I tore the package open and immedately pulled out a bag of dry ice with my bare hands. After chucking the thing away with a yelp, I also pulled out the various stickers, promotional materials, and other cruft that every package comes with these days.
And that’s it.
They didn’t ship our fucking cake.
My wife, Una, contacted Goldbelly (the company we ordered through) to suggest that perhaps they should rethink this new marketing strategy.
They responded (emphasis mine):
As our refund policy states, all items are final sale. Goldbelly does not offer refunds on orders that have already shipped from their respective partner shop. […blah blah blah…] That said, we’re here to help you. We’d love to reship this item to you, or we can add a credit for the order to your Goldbelly account so that you may have a better experience in the future. Please note, the credit will automatically apply towards your next order with us and expire within 60 days.
My immediate thought was that they had seemingly stretched the meaning of the phrase “orders that have already shipped” to its breaking point. Following that, it occurred to me that there was no chance in hell that cake was getting to get to us before Fourth of July weekend, since they didn’t get back to us until 5 PM EST on July 3rd, and offering a customer in-store credit that for a holiday-themed  dessert shop that expires before the next major holiday is…basically an insult.
Admittedly, in a strange way it did feel like kind of a fitting way to celebrate Independence Day. There’s just something so American about us spending way too much money for far too much junk food, only for a company to so thoroughly shit the bed that I could barely comprehend it, only to then have said company act as though I was somehow partly to blame for it.
Fortunately, when Una politely reminded them that they did not, in fact, ship us our order, they quickly folded and gave us back our money. Consequently, we didn’t feel the need to hate them forever. Not that we couldn’t have ordered from them again anyway, but…no, I take it back, we definitely couldn’t have. I’m far too petty for that.
But since it didn’t come to that, we celebrated Thanksgiving once again with PieCaken.
Since it had been a year since we’d had it, we actually started to wonder if it was really worthwhile, or if we’d just enjoyed the novelty the first time around.
Then we cut it open.
Wait, no, not that one. The real one.
There we go. I have to say that it is…definitely more than I’d normally spend on a dessert, but if you’re going to be trapped in a disease-ridden hellscape for years at a time and you’re looking for someway to pretend we can still have nice things, I would definitely go with this particular method of lighting your pancreas on fire.
They actually offer some non-holiday desserts now; I’m not sure if they did at the time, but either way, the point of the whole thing was eating our feelings about the way our holidays are consistently getting ruined by Covid, and it just doesn’t have the same appeal if we’re just eating an oversized novelty cake before our credits expire. ↩︎
One of my favorite phrases from the world of sales (though who knows where it came from) has always been, “You can shear a sheep many times, but you can only skin him once.” ↩︎