Why Do Grocery Store Cakes Taste Different?

When it comes to grocery store cakes, you either love them or you hate them — rarely do people fall somewhere in-between. While homemade cakes usually feature moist layers, rich frosting, and homespun décor, grocery store cakes are in a completely different category. With their predictably firm layers, spackled on sugary frosting, and slightly chemical aftertaste, it's sometimes hard to believe that grocery store cakes share the same key ingredients (flour, sugar, eggs, and fat) as their homemade counterparts.

Why exactly does a cake you pick up from Kroger or Walmart taste so distinctly different from a cake you whip up at home? And why is it that, even before you take a bite, odds are you already know what that store-bought cake will taste like? While not every grocery store cake is created equal, most stores have set standards and practices to ensure their cakes can be produced quickly, inexpensively, and with consistent results.

Grocery store bakeries prioritize speed and consistency

With sometimes thousands of customers coming in daily, most grocery stores don't have the luxury of baking each cake from scratch. Many stores have premade cake layers and frosting shipped to them in bulk, which they then assemble on-site. This allows for cost-saving and a more streamlined process. When you shop at a specific grocery chain, you'll always know what kind of cake you can expect, and that's intentional. "That way no matter which Walmart you go to, you get a uniform look," Heather Lewis, a former cake decorator at Walmart told The Takeout.

In terms of the distinct taste you can expect from a grocery store cake, ingredients are key. If you wanted to bake your own vanilla cake with chocolate frosting, the cake would likely require somewhere between 8 to 10 ingredients, and maybe 4 to 5 for the frosting, depending on the recipe. However, if you take a look at a similar cake from Kroger, you'll see over 30 ingredients listed.

Store-bought cakes have many ingredients you wouldn't normally find in a homemade cake, including additional oils, artificial food colorings, and preservatives to ensure freshness. In addition to more ingredients, you'll also find different ingredient amounts. Simply put, grocery store cakes contain more sugar and additives than the average homemade creation.

Whether you love or hate store-bought cakes, who are we to judge? However, these differences are something to consider before ordering your next supermarket cake.