Given the enormous supply and diversity of vintage cake stands and carriers, it’s easy to imagine hordes of cake-carrying women crowding the sidewalks of 1952, elbowing each other out of the way with their delicious baked goods carefully ensconced in brightly colored tins.
This phenomena – which I dearly want to believe was actually a thing – can probably be explained by the massive popularity of cake mixes that followed World War II. Although cake mixes had been around since the 1930s, they didn’t really take off until the big flour companies started marketing them as a convenience food for the busy, post-war world.
Now that cake-making was not such a time consuming chore, cakes could be enjoyed at parties and holiday gatherings, potlucks, or just as an after dinner treat. But if you signed up to bring a cake to your neighbor’s bridge party, you needed a way to transport your creation that would protect it from the elements but wouldn’t make a mess out of the frosting.
Enter the cake carrier, like the yellow Lincoln Beauty Ware example above. This one features a handled lid that locks on to the base, making transporting a breeze.
Even if you weren’t transporting cakes hither and yon, you still needed a way to serve and store your cakes, preferably as beautifully as possible. American captains of industry heard the call and responded valiantly by creating cake stands and keepers in a myriad of colors, patterns and designs.
Of course these were not used just for cakes: you could also store muffins, cookies, or any other baked goods that you wanted to keep safe from husbands, children, dogs, mice…whatever was roaming your home looking for tasty morsels.
My favorites are the tin cake platters decorated with decals, popular during the 1930s and 1940s, like the one above which features a lady doing a little flower pot gardening. Below is another cake saver I adore, available from one of my favorite Etsy vintage shops (no, not my own!):
And then, of course, there are the novelty cake stands of the 1950s. During that magical decade, marketers loved to add all sorts of gimmicks to their products. I was lucky enough to find a Heller Hostess Ware “Musicakes” stand, totally unused and still in the box. Not only does this marvelous contraption revolve, it also plays “Happy Birthday” for a truly festive occasion!
Here’s a video I made of the “Musicakes” cake stand so you could see it doing its thing:
(Toward the end of this video, you may hear the wails of a small child in the background. That is my seven year old son who, as I discovered, was in distress because he could no longer get his Kindle to respond as apparently the screen “had boogers on it.” My apologies to those of you who are eating).
Note to self: in future, only make videos when children are at school.
And finally we come to the 1960s, which was not the end of cake keepers of course, but it does represent the newest, or rather, the “least vintage” of the cake stands I currently have in the shop. Made from clear acrylic, this one does double duty as both a lidded platter and a stand: take off the lid, turn it over, and the platter fits nicely on top, displaying your cake proudly for all to see.
For some strange reason, I am now craving a cake with chocolate frosting. I think I may have a mix in the pantry……off to go look!