Groom's Cakes Have Been Around A Lot Longer Than You May Think

Weddings are loaded with memorable elements: the venue, the bride's dress, and of course, the food. If you've been to a lot of weddings in the American South, you've likely encountered a groom's cake (which is typically placed beside the wedding cake) at the reception. 

The groom's cake is a popular tradition in the Southern states that originated in Britain in the mid-1800s and made its way to the United States in the early 1900s. The groom's cake was often darker, richer, and spiked with alcohol, all elements that were considered to be masculine flavors. This is why earlier groom's cakes featured dark chocolate and were filled with fruit and liquor. This was designed to contrast with the traditional, feminine, white wedding cake, which symbolized purity. 

Like many aspects of the wedding celebration, the groom's cake had its share of symbolism and superstition. In some cases, the bridegroom sliced the cake and handed it out to all the bridesmaids. Single women believed that sleeping with a slice of groom's cake under their pillow would summon visions of their future husbands while they slept.

The evolution of the groom's cake

Since this wedding tradition was introduced in the U.S., it has become a staple at many Southern weddings. However, the tradition has evolved in many ways since the original British version to include more intricate decoration and flavor options. Sigmund Jucker, a co-founder of Three Brothers Bakery, recalls when he made his very first groom's cake in the 1960s. "It was a simple, double-stacked chocolate sheet cake," with "chocolate buttercream icing and filling," he said. 

Things took a more interesting turn in the '80s, when the cakes became more elaborate, as grooms looked for a way to stamp their personality on the decisions surrounding the wedding day. The cakes offered the grooms a chance to share their interests, and the bakers an opportunity to flex their cake-making skills. In the late '80s, America saw the first animal-shaped groom's cake in the popular film "Steel Magnolias" film, which inspired many other design options. 

Today, many bakeries offer various customization choices to best reflect the groom's personality and preferences. But be sure to order in advance if you want something complicated like a sport-, dog-, or tiki-themed cake. As long as the baker can make it, the sky's the limit.