Every Cake Boss Controversy Explained

10 seasons, 251 episodes, and 13 specials later, it goes without saying that the show "Cake Boss," one of TLC's most loved creations, has had its fair share of controversies during its time (via The TVDB). Buddy Valastro, the cake boss, apparently had a vision of his father that helped him make sfogliatelle dough and allowed him to trust his own ability to make magic in a bakery (The Hoboken Girl). 

Since the first episode of "Cake Boss" aired on April 19, 2009, it has captured the hearts and eyes of many viewers across the globe. However, the history of the bakery was set into motion more than a century ago.

Carlo's Bakery doors were first opened by Carlo Guastaferro in 1910 in a quiet neighborhood in New Jersey. When the 1950s rolled around, Bartolo Valastro joined the Carlo's Bakery team as an apprentice from Sicily. He later bought the bakery in 1963 when it became a family-run business that would go on to be passed down through the generations (via Youtube).  

The current Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro took over the bakery when his father, Buddy Valastro Sr. died in 1994: He was 17 years old at the time. While Valastro Jr. may have received his baking talents from his forefathers, with some gifted in a dream, there are some not-so-sweet shenanigans that have also gone on behind all the fondant: "Cake Boss" has had its fair share of controversies. 

The cake boss was caught drunk driving in New York City

On November 13, 2014, the cake boss was arrested for a DWI. According to CNN, New York Police pulled him over a little after 1 a.m. when officers witnessed his Corvette swerving through lanes. His face was reportedly flushed, with bloodshot eyes and his breath reeking of alcohol. Moreover, when Valastro was asked to asked to step out of the vehicle, his steps were reportedly wobbly. Following this and a failed sobriety test, he was charged with a DWI and driving while impaired.

According to The New York Times, Valastrio appeared in Criminal Court in Manhattan on December 1, 2014. He accepted a plea deal: He pled guilty and was fined $300, his license was suspended in the state of New York for three months, and he was ordered to attend a drunken driving course. 

Following this ruling, Valatro swore never to drink and drive again and issued an apology to his family, friends, and fans. He later sent out a series of tweets to express his disappointment in himself and the lesson he had learned about never driving after having had even a single drink. While fans applauded him for taking responsibility, the arrest has continued to hover over his image and the show.

Valastro tried using his celebrity status to avoid DWI arrest

As if it weren't already messy enough that Valastro could barely stand straight on his own, he went on to pull the celebrity card during his DWI arrest. According to The Daily News, a prosecutor revealed that Valastro had tried to wrangle himself out of the arrest by telling the police officers that they couldn't arrest him because he is the cake boss. His candid chatter reportedly didn't end there as he went on to ask if anything could be done and claimed that he was a good guy.

Even though he eventually pled guilty, he refused to plead guilty during this hearing, even though the prosecutor recounted that he had admitted to having had a drink 30 to 40 minutes before driving. Valastro is not the first to pull the celebrity card during compromising spliffs. Reese Witherspoon resorted using a similar tactic during her own DWI arrest in 2013 (via Mirror).

Valastro and TLC were sued for copyright infringement over the show's name

In 2010, Judge Richard A. Jones issued a preliminary injunction that barred TLC from calling the show "Cake Boss" (via True Jersey). This ruling came after Kelly and Jon Masters, owners of CakeBoss, a software company that was launched in 2006, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the channel. The Masters reportedly let TLC know of the infringement when advertisements about the show began circulating in 2009, which yielded no change from the channel.

When the federal court judge made the ruling against TLC, he stated that even though TLC may not have been aware that another company was already using the name, the channel's massive investment in the show should have warranted even a rudimentary search to check. 

At the time of the ruling in July, the injunction excluded Valastro's book, "Cake Boss: The Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia," which was published in November of the same year. How did "Cake Boss" stay "Cake Boss" after the injunction? A mere three months later, TLC and Masters Software, Inc. were reported to have reached a settlement agreement. Ultimately, this meant both parties got to keep their respective names, and the space in the title differentiated the two names. 

The show was accused of transphobia

In 2012, an episode initially marked for trans visibility and representation was marred by a transphobic joke. According to HuffPost, Carmen Carrera of "RuPaul's Drag Race"  agreed to the "Cake Boss" appearance with the intention of promoting equality. Instead, she found herself being the butt of a supposed prank by Cousin Anthony, which insinuated that trans women are not women. 

After the episode aired on June 11, Carrera, who had educated the show's producers on what terms to use and which would be offensive, reportedly issued a statement on Facebook to express her detestation and pointed out that referring to a transgender woman as a man is inappropriate. 

According to The Daily Mail, Carrera's supporters also expressed their disgust on her Facebook statement while GLAAD, a prolific media advocacy organization for LGBTQ+ narratives, issued a statement asserting their support for Carrera. Days later, TLC pulled the episode from rotation, and Valastro issued a Facebook apology to Carrera, her supporters, and the entire LGBTQ community. Cousin Anthony also tweeted an apology. 

Valastro's brother-in-law was convicted for sexually assaulting a teenager

In 2012, Valastro's former brother-in-law Remigio Gonzalez was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual assault against a disabled 13-year-old girl by Superior Court Judge Stuart Minkowitz, according to True Jersey. The incidents of assault reportedly occurred between July 2009 and March 2010. Gonzalez already pled guilty, and the judge sentenced Gonzalez to nine years with no parole until at least 85% of the sentence had been served. 

The case was not without contention. Prior to the sentencing, Gonzalez, who was represented by Leigh Gilsenan, a public defender, had tried to withdraw his plea. He claimed that he had not seen nor fully understood the terms of the plea deal under the representation of Daniel Kratka, a private attorney. Judge Minkowitz denied the withdrawal.

Although the case was not directly related to  "Cake Boss," the show and its fans were nevertheless impacted by the incident. Jason Charles started a Change.org petition calling for TLC to remove all 42 "Cake Boss" episodes that featured Gonzalez.

Apart from removing Gonzales' bio from the show's website, TLC issued a statement expressing support for Buddy and the Valastro family and their respect for the family's request for privacy (via NBC Washington).

Buddy Valastro fired his sister after a fight

No business is without its fair share of conflict, which is often even more so the case with family businesses. During the fifth season of the show, one episode served as a demonstration of what happens when tempers and sassy mouths are not tempered. 

According to HuffPost, cake boss Buddy Valastro's sister Mary Sciarrone had made one too many snarky remarks when he called aside to reprimand her. During the confrontation, which turned into a screaming match, he asserted that Mary would not manage Carlo's Bakery so long as he was still alive.

Having already garnered a reputation as someone who was rude to patrons and staff and a general drama magnet, the decision to fire her was reportedly a welcome one for both the staff and viewers of the show. Many reality shows are bridled with conflict, screaming contests, and ongoing drama, and some even take it as far as making this the premise of the show. 

However, with the departure of Mary Sciarrone, "Cake Boss" became a calmer environment almost instantaneously. Ultimately though, what matters is that family business drama is left at the business, which has fortunately been the case for Buddy and Mary.