I pay attention to food trends because I write about food, but they don’t affect my food choices. Some trends are unsurprising, like the bacon fanaticism of the past few years. Some are incredibly surprising, like the growing trend in the U.S. to eat guinea pig.

Today I read that birthday cake is the biggest trend in food flavoring at the moment, and I’m confused. What is the flavor of birthday cake? The taste is popping up in yogurt, popcorn, candy, iced tea, and a soon-to-be released M&M flavor. There’s even a birthday cake flavored vodka. (Can we stop adulterating vodka, please?) But who decided what the flavor of birthday cake is so that it can be added to all of these non-cake items?

The taste of bacon? It’s pretty clear what that is, but birthday cake? My birthday cakes growing up were always chocolate – Dunkin Hines Devil’s Food to be exact. My kids’ cakes are chocolate, too, but I make them from scratch. Two of my best friends from my childhood who had birthdays just days apart always had Italian Rum Cake as their birthday cake when we would celebrate.

I did a quick survey on Facebook and asked my friends what the flavor of birthday cake is for them. Here are some of the responses.

  • Strawberry shortcake
  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream cake,
  • Chocolate on chocolate with "puddin in the mix"
  • Chocolate
  • Yellow cake with vanilla icing
  • Angel food cake, with fruit & real whipped cream on the side
  • Chocolate cake with chocolate icing
  • Chocolate cake with butter cream icing
  • Yellow cake with whipped cream icing
  • Ice Cream Cake... Carvel of course
  • Yellow cake with chocolate icing
  • Cherry chip cake with cherry icing
  • Chocolate/chocolate
  • Devils food with chocolate frosting
So, I ask you, how can there be one single birthday cake flavor? If this Cake batter-flavored desserts Pinterest page is any indication, someone in the food world has decided the flavor of birthday cake is vanilla and sprinkles/funfetti/jimmies.

What I see here is a vanilla-flavored cake trend, not a birthday-cake flavored trend. The flavor of birthday cake, I think, is whatever your favorite birthday cake is, not what someone says it is.

Now that I have you thinking about who gets to be the final authority on what birthday cake tastes like, I’ll leave you with two other burning questions.

What is the difference between icing and frosting? Is there a difference?

Are those hard crunchy things sprinkles, jimmies or funfetti?

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

What is the flavor of birthday cake?
It’s being called the new “it” flavor, but who is the final authority on what birthday cake tastes like?