Alongside Costco's free samples and dirt-cheap booze, the big-box store's sheet cakes get lost in the shuffle. But dig a little, and you'll find a crew of shoppers who are obsessed with the cakes for sale in the bakery section. Before you join the groupies, here's what you need to know.
1. They're insanely cheap …
It'll set you back less than 20 bucks — $18.99, to be exact — to order a half sheet cake from Costco. Chances are, you couldn't beat that price even if you made one yourself. It beats out the competition, too: BJ's, another big-box store, sells a similar sized cake for $24, and Walmart's is nearly $25.
2. … and feed so many people.
You can serve 48 guests with just one of Costco's half sheet cakes. That means when cuts are made and pieces are doled out, you've spent just 39-cents per person.
3. One cake weighs more than a newborn.
If you were to set your half sheet cake on a scale, the number would read about nine-and-a-half pounds. According to Costco's order form, two of those pounds are the cake's mousse filling.
4. There are only two flavors offered.
You can either order what Costco refers to as a white cake — a.k.a. vanilla — or a chocolate cake. The former is a vanilla sheet cake filled with vanilla cheesecake mousse that's iced with white buttercream. The latter is the chocolate version of that: chocolate sheet cake, chocolate mousse filling, and chocolate buttercream icing.
5. Customers used to have more options.
Once upon a time, you could pick up a carrot cake sheet cake from Costco, which came with apricot mousse filling and cream cheese icing sprinkled with slivered almonds. Internationally, there are even more offerings: Costco Australia allows you to mix and match a raspberry filling with either chocolate or vanilla sponge cake.
6. You can take one home on the spot.
Costco keeps its bakery section full of ready-made sheet cakes, some plain, some with birthday messages, and — around the holidays — some with festive designs.
7. But custom orders require advance planning.
Give bakers a day or two notice to craft something specific, like an intricate design or a special message.
8. Bakers can decorate in more than two dozen ways.
The sheet cake order form reveals nearly 30 designs to choose from. There are the classic ways to frost a sheet cake — with balloons or roses — plus some more offbeat ones, like a pirate ship, a skateboard, or a party owl … whatever that means.
9. The dinosaur design was part of a scandal.
In 2015, The Inquisitr broke a story about a woman who complained the dinosaur on her kid's birthday cake had only three legs, each looking like the number "6." She claimed bakers had hidden this demonic "666" message in the cake on purpose. But upon some digging, the article was found to be written by the mother-in-question's boyfriend, and the Costco location at the center of the story confirmed no complaints had ever been received.
10. They're the perfect blank slate.
However you slice 'em, Costco's sheet cakes can look incredibly juvenile, so at-home bakers have taken to customizing them. You can pick up a cake that's only been frosted with a base layer, then trick it out at home.
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