The untold truth of Funfetti cake

In England they are called hundreds and thousands; in parts of Canada they known as non pareils. This tiny treat even has a different name in the Northeastern part of the United States, where it's known as jimmies (via Epicurious). We are talking about rainbow sprinkles, and before they became the multicolored stars of the Funfetti cake, they were an added ice cream topping if you were being especially good, or the finishing touch on a homemade cake that marked the celebration of an important event. 

Rainbow sprinkles were reborn in 1989, the year Pillsbury introduced a white cake mix that included rainbow sprinkles to be mixed into the batter, and not placed on top of the cake. The mix was called "Funfetti" and it didn't take long for Pillsbury to realize it had a star on its hands. "In the 1990s, to have a successful birthday party, you had to beg your mom for Funfetti cake," baker and food blogger Molly Yeh told The New York Times. "It was as if chocolate and vanilla no longer existed."

People used Funfetti for more than just cake

Funfetti cake was just the start of a candy sprinkle revolution that brightened up everything from cakes to cookies. It also spurred Pillsbury rivals Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines to introduce their own rainbow sprinkle cake, the Rainbow Chip Cake, and Signature Confetti Cake respectively (via Eat This, Not That). 

Yeh thinks there is a simple explanation for the public outpouring of interest in candy sprinkles. She says: "They're just so photogenic. I think of it like garnishing a dish with parsley, and they make anything look festive." 

At its height, the Funfetti craze extended beyond cakes and into martinis, cream cheese balls, and cinnamon rolls. In 2016, Pinterest said that the rainbow sprinkle craze saw users between the ages of 25 to 34 save 260 percent more Funfetti ideas than they did during the previous year.

Funfetti cake can be made from scratch

Making a Funfetti-inspired cake from scratch is most definitely an option. Food writer Alison Roman says you can turn any cake into a Funfetti cake (via Buzzfeed). She suggests combining every 1/2 cup of sprinkles with a tablespoon of flour so that the sprinkles are suspended in the batter, and to keep sprinkles from diving down to the bottom of the cake pan. Roman also suggests decorating the cake with homemade vanilla icing before adding more sprinkles to the top, to add a pop of color .

Yeh cautions Funfetti cake isn't as easy to pull off as it seems at face value. Her recipe on Food52 offers specific tips to get it right, from the ingredients (artificial is best in her book), to the type of cake that will best support sprinkles. Who knew fun was so hard? You might as well make it easy on yourself and buy a box of Funfetti cake at the store. Thank goodness this is one product that has stood the test of time and is still readily available.