How chocolate cake changed politics forever
Once upon a time, a Democrat, Republican, and Independent were on a baking show. The contestants were required to make chocolate cake.
The Democrat made a triple-layered cake in a 13-inch round pan with oversized rainbow sprinkles, West African chocolate, and organic almond flour.
The Republican made a single-layered cake in a 12x12-inch square pan with Hershey’s frosting and all-purpose flour from America’s heartland.
Before deciding on his chocolate cake, the Independent looked carefully over the audience who would be choosing the winner.
He understood audiences varied and that his cake should appeal to its personal preferences without compromising the baking principle his mother, a lifelong Democrat, and his father, a lifelong Republican, had taught him.
Make it visually appealing, great tasting, healthy, and affordable.
The Independent combined elements from both the Republican and Democratic cakes. He chose the oversized rainbow sprinkles, Hershey’s frosting, and organic flour from Kansas.
Instead of a round or rectangular pan, he chose a ring-shaped mold so he could fill the hollow center with homemade whip cream and fresh berries.
The Democrat and Republican contestants said, "That's not fair. He is copying us.”
Both added that the Independent was nothing more than a disguised partisan of the other contestant’s party and therefore did not deserve to compete on the show.
Then, not realizing the microphone was still on, the Democratic and Republican competitors whispered in unison, “Why do I have to pick ingredients from my party’s recipe book?”
A silence came over the studio until the show’s hosts said, “Those are the rules. If you break them, you're out. Now go make a cake."
You see, undisclosed to the audience, the hosts were also the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties.
When it came time to judge the cakes, everyone in the audience wanted to taste the Independent’s cake first. It smelled and looked terrific.
The rules stated that audience members who picked the winning cake would get to take one home along with the recipe.
The audience began to murmur and appeared genuinely concerned over what to do, especially the partisan ones.
The Republican and Democratic audience members wanted to vote for their party’s contestant, but they knew that the Independents in the audience, who totaled nearly as many as them, would vote for the Independent because his cake was clearly the best.
If only a few audience members from the Republican and Democratic parties voted for the Independent, he would win. And everyone who did not pick the winner would go home without a delicious cake and its recipe.
The partisan audience members also knew that the Independents were not acting out of some misplaced allegiance. In past shows, Independents had voted for Republican and Democratic contestants.
“The stakes are high," said the Republican. "My cake tastes like the cakes of your childhood and is 100 percent made in America. Choose me."
“I have lots and lots of chocolate in mine cake," said the Democrat. "And the flour is organic so you can feel could about eating it. Vote for me.”
The debate intensified to a point where no one could hear what anyone was saying. Then the Independent stood up; the audience had almost forgotten he was there.
"My cake is made from the freshest, most wholesome ingredients I could find, ones that taste good and are good for you. Best of all, the recipe is under budget so that everyone who likes my cake can afford to make it.”
For a moment, it was as if the audience had just walked out of a cornfield and were standing on its edge. They now saw clearly the possible paths that lay ahead.
At the same moment, one of the show's media talking heads said, "He'll never win. They never do."
That was the show’s last episode. Afterwards a whole new genre of baking shows emerged.
The goal was not to declare the best baker. It was to create the best tasting cake for each audience on the most affordable budget possible.
The bakers worked together. The audience was the focus, not the contestants.
Soon recipes from the show were being shared across regions. It marked the rebirth of baking, as everyone began to enjoy more delicious, healthy, and affordable cakes.
And the Independent who won that night by an overwhelming majority, gathering votes from Republicans and Democrats as well as Independents, continues to bake cakes and write recipes for all to enjoy.
By Perry Waag and Chris Leone