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On their wedding day, Carrie Mardock presented her new husband, Eli, with a Prophet synthesizer.
It wasn't really a synthesizer. It was a cake in the shape of the instrument, complete with black and white fondant keys, knobs and dials inlaid with silver, and a functioning light that glowed throughout the reception.
And — the metaphorical icing on the elaborate cake — it was vegan.
“Since Eli is vegan, he often gets left out of having fancy desserts,” Carrie said. “So when we were planning our wedding, I knew I wanted to have an amazing vegan groom's cake.”
Eli Mardock, a musician who's the former front man of Eagle*Seagull, is likely one of relatively few grooms to receive a personalized synthesizer groom's cake, but he's among a growing number of grooms who receive — or actively choose — an elaborate cake of their very own, said Ed Otto, owner of the Cake Gallery, 8247 Hascall St.
Otto has spent the past 10 years tracking wedding cake data from about 400 bakeries across the country and he's followed trends in groom's cakes since 2004.
According to Otto's data, groom's cakes always have been (and continue to be) more popular in the Midwest and South than on the coasts. In the Omaha area, about 29 percent of weddings feature a groom's cake — a percentage that has held more or less steady since groom's cakes rose to popularity in the 1980s, Otto said.
While their popularity has remained the same, though, the style of groom's cakes has changed.
A groom's cake 20 years ago may have been a simple sheet cake adorned with the groom's favorite sports team logo.
Sports-themed cakes are still popular, Otto said, but they've become much more ambitious. Popular three-dimensional shapes include football helmets, replicas of sports stadiums and busts of popular players.
And the designs have branched out beyond sports, too.
In just the past few weeks, Otto has made groom's cakes in the shape of a catfish, a camera and a Corvette. Booze bottles — think Crown Royal and Bud Light — also are in demand, as are movie-themed cakes and cakes in the shape of athletic shoes.
It was six years ago, Otto said, that the trend first started gaining ground, coinciding with the rise of reality television shows about cakes, particularly “Ace of Cakes” and “Cake Boss.”
“Everybody agrees that it's related to cable TV,” Otto said.
Including Heather Hansen, a cake decorator at Hy-Vee.
She, too, has been receiving requests for elaborate groom's cakes since the TV shows debuted.
In the past two years, though, she's seen the trend become widespread.
She estimates that she creates — from cake, fondant, frosting and Styrofoam — one elaborate groom's cake per month. She's made cakes in the shape of the TCU horned frog and, for a pilot groom, a 3-D airplane.
Often, Hansen said, couples spend far more on the groom's cake than they do on their traditional cake.
She theorizes couples are drawn to creative cakes because of the wow factor they add to the wedding day.
“Everyone's been to weddings and they've seen the same thing over and over.”
Most likely, they haven't seen a cake in the shape of an airplane.
Or a synthesizer.
Carrie Mardock didn't mention the cake to her groom before their July 2011 wedding.
It was simply waiting at their reception, and after they arrived, she waited for Eli to notice.
“It didn't take long. He just didn't realize it was a cake at first,” she said. “He thought it was awesome, just like I was hoping.”
Contact the writer:
Submitted by Julie Elkins, 32. "My husband Matt (pictured below) and I got married on October 30th, 2010. I surprised him with a cheeseburger-shaped, chocolate-flavored cake. His favorite food is cheeseburgers."
Submitted by Beth Broderick. "My husband is an extreme Star Wars fan. When we got married in 2009, we decided on a traditional white cake, and chocolate cupcakes on the side for our Groom's Cake. John's friends decided to surprise him with this cake, which is the Death Star. It says "Happy Wedding" on the top. He couldn't have been happier, even though everyone kept asking what it was. I heard, 'Is it a soccer ball?' a few times. And somehow after the wedding, even though there was plenty of white cake left, we only brought the Death Star home to save for our 1st anniversary."
Carrie and Eli Mardock's synthesizer groom cake
Submitted by Terrie Fox. The groom's cake at her son Mark and Codie Fox's wedding. That's real cheese on the top.
Submitted by Scott Stronck. "My wife Ashley and I just got married on October 6 in Omaha. My groom cake was designed after two of my favorite things, besides her of course: The Washington Redskins and Omaha."
Submitted by John McMillan. "Our wedding was October 9, 2010 at St. Robert's with the reception at Champions. I chose to have a dinosaur cake because I loved them growing up and when 'Jurassic Park' came out in 1993, my brother and I saw it 7 times in the theater. My Mom was battling breast cancer, so whenever family and friends would pick us up and ask us what to do, we would say, "Go see Jurassic Park." My mom is now close to being 20 years cancer-free by the way."
The groom's cake of online editor Patrick Smith.
Submitted by Heather Wolak, 26, who married Brian Wolak on Aug. 19, 2011
Sweet Discoveries, a bakery in Illinois, created this Memorial Stadium cake for a wedding in Wisconsin. Read more about the cake here.
Submitted by Mickey Kempf. My daughter, Lynsay Kempf, was married on Oct 15, 2011 to Cody Luchsinger. The cake for the groom was a craps table."
Submitted by Amy. "This was my friends' groom cake at a wedding earlier this year, pretty awesome if you ask me."
Submitted by Victoria Stewart. The cake was modeled after her husband's 1985 Corvette.
Submitted by Benjamin Robles, 33. "My wife and I were married on August 10. As an avid sports fan, I have always patronized three specific sports-related individuals and teams. The first is Fernando Valenzuela (of the Los Angeles Dodgers), next is the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and the last is Michael Jordan (more specifically the Air Jordan shoes). I presented the idea for my cake to the Cake Gallery thinking they would create a small version of each of the items on one large sheet cake. Instead, they created three large 3-D versions of each of my ideas. The Air Jordan shoe that I had them create is a replica of the shoes I wore for our reception."