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The Most Popular Cake from Every Decade

What was the most popular cake of the 20s, the 50s or the 80s? We found them all: the one cake that defined each decade!

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1900s: Chocolate Cake

The turn of the century saw the first chocolate cakes made by home bakers. New processes developed through the mid-1800s led to ingredients like cocoa powder and chocolate bars that were easier to bake with and available to everyone.
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1910s: Sponge Cake

Light-as-air sponge cakes were very popular this decade for everything from family treats to Passover desserts to wedding cakes. Beaten eggs give sponge cakes their lovely texture. In the 1910s the cakes were often flavored with fruit juices and zest.

There are even more vintage 1910s recipes you’ll love.

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1920s: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

In 1925 Dole Pineapple held a contest for the best pineapple recipe. Not only did Pineapple Upside-Down Cake win, there were over 2,500 recipes for the cake in the running—clearly a favorite dessert of home cooks!

Let us help you cut that pineapple.

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1930s: Icebox Cake

The availability of pre-made ingredients like graham crackers and cookies, plus electric refrigerators appearing in homes, made icebox cakes very popular. One of the most basic and delicious types: chocolate wafer cookies layered with sweetened whipped cream.

Here are more icebox desserts we love.

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1940s: War Cake

Due to the scarcity of ingredients like eggs and butter during WWII, home cooks had to get creative to make cakes for their families. Some surprising substitutions included mayonnaise, sauerkraut and vinegar. Even more surprising? The cakes were delicious!

Wondering what it was like to cook in the 40s? We tried it

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1950s: Baked Alaska

At the height of home entertaining the Baked Alaska reigned supreme. The stunning dish was not only a delicious dessert, it showed off the skills of the home cook and sparked conversation about a treat that’s both scorched and frozen!

Here are more dishes you would have found at a 1950s party.

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1960s: Black Forest Cake

This beautiful cake loaded with chocolate and cherry was a popular dessert at fine restaurants and at dinner parties. It had appeal as part of “continental cuisine” and from a hefty dose of delicious Kirsch cherry liqueur.
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1970s: Carrot Cake

Though created in the early twentieth century this cake reached the peak of popularity in the 1970s. Home cooks caught up in the health craze of the decade loved this cake loaded with carrots and fruit like raisins, pineapple or applesauce.

If you’re craving more 70s classics, try these!

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1980s: Ice Cream Cake

Thanks to a bombardment of TV ads from companies like Baskin Robbins, Friendly’s and Carvel (remember Fudgie the Whale and Cookie Puss?), ice cream cakes were all the rage in the 80s.
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1990s: Chocolate Lava Cakes

This rich chocolate cake with a molten center became the decadent dessert of the 90s. At first they could only be found at high-end, trendy restaurants, but soon lava cakes were on menus of chain and small-town restaurants everywhere.

We bet you owned this cookbook in the 90s.

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2000s: Gourmet Cupcakes

This craze was kicked off by the hit show Sex In The City and frequent shots of the creative cupcakes at NYC’s Magnolia Bakery. Fans flocked to the bakery and soon gourmet cupcake shops popped up in cities and towns everywhere.

Try our top gourmet cupcake recipes.

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2010s: Unicorn Cakes

Unicorns and rainbows are very big this decade. Every sparkly unicorn party needs a whimsical unicorn cake, complete with a horn, flowing mane and rainbow-speckled layers under the frosting.

Let us help you plan that unicorn party!

Nancy Mock
Discovering restaurants, tasting bakery treats, finding inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties—no wonder Nancy loves being a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the beautiful outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and plenty of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes at her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.

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