Pop out cake
A pop out cake, popout cake, jump out cake, or surprise cake is a large object made to serve as a surprise for a celebratory occasion. Externally, such a construction appears to be an oversized cake, and sometimes actually is, at least in part. However, the construction is usually cardboard. The inside of the object has a space for a someone, traditionally a young, attractive woman, to crouch and hide until the moment of surprise, when she then stands up and comes out of the cake.
The ancient Romans held feasts featuring meat of one animal stuffed inside another. Eventually, Petronius attempted to make it look as if the animals stuffed inside appeared to be alive. In Medieval Europe, the entremet, a between-courses dish, developed into a form of entertainment, which could include the presentation of a pie with live animals, such as doves and frogs, bursting out. Such spectacles were known as early as the 1400s and continued into the 18th century, when it was memorialized in the nursery rhyme "Sing a Song of Sixpence," wherein live blackbirds are placed in a pie shell to be served for a king's feast.
In 1626, the Duke and Duchess of Buckingham presented King Charles I of England and Queen Henrietta Maria with a pie from which sprang the dwarf Jeffrey Hudson, in a suit of armor. The date of the pie banquet was 5 November 1626.
The concept became notorious after Stanford White put on a dinner on May 20, 1895 that included a scantily-clad girl, Susie Johnson, emerging from a pie made from galvanized iron, accompanied by a recitation of "Sing a Song of Sixpence". A few months later, the "Pie Girl" having disappeared, The World ran a lurid expose of the episode that emphasized the prominence of the guests, who included Nikola Tesla and Charles Dana Gibson, and the scandalous nature of White's affairs. White himself was eventually murdered by Harry Thaw, the husband of White's former lover, Evelyn Nesbit. The episode became "a sign for the decadence of art and high society."
By the 1950s, women popping out of cakes was common at male-only parties in the United States. It eventually became common for showgirls to pop out of cakes for celebratory occasions.
Pop out cakes are a common trope, used especially in television and film with notable examples such as Erika Eleniak in the 1992 movie Under Siege, Mariah Carey in the music video for the 2001 song "Loverboy", and The Joker in the September 11, 1992 "Joker's Favor" episode of Batman: The Animated Series.
Often the person jumping out of the cake is a stripper, showgirl or model during a celebration. For example, Naomi Campbell popped out of a cake in 2004 for her then-boyfriend Usher's 26th birthday party at the Rainbow Room. Comedian Bill Murray jumped out of a cake in celebration of David Letterman's 2015 retirement from Late Show. Murray had been Letterman's first guest on Late Night with David Letterman when it debuted on NBC in 1982 and his first guest on Late Show with David Letterman when Letterman moved his show to CBS in 1993.
The pop out cake has been used as a metaphor. Sir Fred Hoyle was an advocate of the Steady State theory of the universe and considered theories that described a beginning as pseudoscience. When he coined the term Big Bang on BBC Radio for the theory that he opposed, he stated that it was as undignified a way to describe the beginnings of the Universe as "a party girl jumping out of a cake".
- On his seventh birthday, in 1626, Jeffrey Hudson was presented to the Duchess of Buckingham as a "rarity of nature" and she invited him to join the household. A few months later, the Duke and Duchess entertained King Charles and his young French wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, in London. The climax of the lavish banquet was the presentation of Jeffrey to the Queen, served in a large pie. When the pie was placed in front of the Queen, Jeffrey arose from the crust, 18 inches (45 cm) tall and dressed in a miniature suit of armour. The Queen was delighted and the Duke and Duchess of Buckingham offered Hudson to her as an amusing gift. In the 1943 German film Münchhausen, a state banquet given by Catherine the Great reprises the incident: a giant pie containing a dwarf who plays on a miniature piano.
- "The pie bearers advanced solemnly down the center of the room, and after much shuffling of chairs deposited their burden in the center of the table. It was apparently a beautiful pie of mammoth size, but not of the ordinary shape. The crust was brown and flaky, and the aroma was delicious. The head waiter, with a solemnity and importance born of the possession of a stupendous secret, advanced to the table, and with a quick movement cut the crust of the pie with a silver knife. The pie divided as if by magic, and, falling apart, disclosed Susie Johnson, the sixteen-year-old model. A great bevy of canaries, which had been inclosed with her, flew into the room and perched on the easels, on the pictures, anywhere they could find refuge. Then there was a great shout [...] and the young model was lifted from the table to the floor. She was dressed in filmy black gauze. [...] The pie was examined with due care, and it was found to be in reality a sphere of galvanized iron covered with a crust of pastry." (1895 wire story)
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