Tell him about the Twinkie…

By Phil Plait | September 17, 2008 12:00 pm

I have a birthday coming up (eventually), and Mrs. BA is a fantastic baker. So I could ask her for any cake I want — she’s made a Spongebob cake, a Zim cake, even one indistinguishable from a pumpkin (seriously, people thought it was a jack-o-lantern when we brought it to a Halloween party). But even she doubts she could do this:

Cakes of the solar system

That’s from Cakes by Bob, who is a BABloggee! He has a specialty cake store in Richmond, Virginia, not too far from my alma mater of UVa. In an email, he said to me, "Reading your blog on a regular basis, I decided to leave off Pluto, in spite of my affection for “Interplanet Janet”."

Well, I’m of two minds about Pluto, but this is still pretty cool. Mrs. BA was admiring the picture the other day; I could see the wheels turning in her head as she tried to figure out how to make them. She thinks she can do the shapes, but the painting is another matter.

I hope she can work this out. I want scale models of all 300+ extrasolar planets for my next birthday.

Comments (56)

  1. Timothy from Boulder

    Food coloring applied with an airbrush. It’s time for a trip to McGuckin’s!

  2. A “forum friend” of mine just did a Spongebob cake too!

    [img]http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh184/citronellasecret/PIC_0041.jpg[/img]

    [img]http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh184/citronellasecret/PIC_0044.jpg[/img]

    [img]http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh184/citronellasecret/PIC_0048.jpg[/img]

    Frosting paint…. Mmmmmmmmm. Excuse me while I go into insulin shock!

  3. Sam

    Uranus looks delicious.

  4. Doh! Forgot UBB code doesn’t work here… *hint* We need an edit function. At least a 5 minute one. *hint* Can you talk to the Hive Overmind about that?

  5. Sam

    Oh, hang on. You Americans don’t pronounce Uranus like ‘your anus’, do you?
    Damn.

  6. Phil,

    And of course the planets will be to scale, right?

    Speaking of which, have you visited all of the planets in the scale model of the solar system in Boston?

  7. Sam: So I guess licking off some of the frosting is out of the question?

  8. Carl Matherly

    What about the Twinkie?

    (Well SOMEONE had to say it. Who ya gonna call?)

  9. Sam

    That”s never out of the question, Naked Bunny with a Whip. Especially not with a name like that…

    Hang on, are we still talking food?

  10. Wayne

    @Sam,
    Not in my classroom! We encourage a pronunciation that’s more like “YOUR-inus”, but still the bad jokes keep on rolling. No word yet on when the IAU will finally change the name to “Urectum” and be done with it.

  11. Urectum? Dang near killed ‘em!

  12. Peptron

    I always thought that “Uranus” was pronounced “uh-reh-nus” in English, so it took me years to get what was supposed to be funny about the word, until people started to point to it directly. I always had in mind that it was basically the name of the god Ouranos, but with “u”s instead of “o”s.

    There is even a creation myth involving him, which means that young Americans will probably learn about it in their biology classes soon enough:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oranos#Creation_myth

  13. I call dibs on Saturn…

  14. I’d like to eat the twin moons of Uranus.

  15. Peptron

    I was curious and I checked in the dictionary.
    Uranus is pronounced “/ˈjʊərənəs” (or “your-eh-ness”).

  16. Peptron

    Arg… forgot about the no-link policy. Anyway, my preceeding post is in correction to another preceeding that is awaiting moderation…

  17. Sam

    @Peptron,
    That is how I have always heard it pronounced here in Wales (and the rest of the UK), but any American I can recall hearing has said it like ‘YOUR-ah-nus’. There is a fairly well known story about it, too. Apparently journalists were too uncomfortable to say it like ‘your anus’ on the news when the first probe was sent there, so the pronunciation was changed. I don’t know if that is true, though.

  18. Peptron:
    “Ur-eh-ness”
    Sounds Canadian, eh!

  19. Two minds about Pluto? What? The left hemisphere thinks it’s a planet while the right hemisphere thinks it’s just a comet? ;)

    You should try and connect the two :D

  20. Todd W.

    @Peptron

    Growing up in the U.S., I remember being taught for a while to pronounce it YUR-uh-nuhs, then the pronunciation in later grades was changed to yur-AY-nuhs. I prefer the former. Too many stupid jokes with that latter.

  21. Hang on, are we still talking food?

    Food? Wait, you want a meal, too? Man, you’re high-maintenance. ^^

  22. That’s not supposed to be to scale, is it? Half the planets are either way too small or way too large, depending on whether you want Jupiter to be a ball of cake the size of your house.

  23. redx

    Zim cake? Pics or it didn’t happen. :)

    We are skeptics, aren’t we?

  24. elgarak

    Phil,

    Thanks for quoting one of my favorite films, one that was partly responsible for my career choice.

    I always wanted to be able to say: “Back off, man! I’m a scientist.”

  25. Phil, can I come over for your birthday and help you consume your cake?

  26. Mmmm…. cake…. mmmmmm….

    I want one of these….

  27. Ted H.

    ….What about the Twinkie?

    (Someone had to finish the quote)

    Now I have the “Interplanet Janet” song going through my head.

  28. Larry

    You should contact Duff Goldman at Charm City Cakes. He has the show on the Food Network, “Ace of Cakes”. While not in your immediate neighborhood, he might have some suggestions.

  29. Richmond, huh…. I think I might have to get one of these for my birthday next year! Looks yummers.

  30. Larry:
    I was thinking about Chef Duff as well. I guess he’d want to include a comet as well, with all the associated pyrotechnics he’d add.
    And where are the rest of Saturn’s moons? I think we’ve been shortchanged.

  31. Wrong choice to leave out Pluto. Before you progress to exoplanets, try getting all the planets in our solar system. That includes Ceres, MakeMake and Eris in addition to Pluto.

    Beautiful cake anyway. Here’s wishing you that this year, you go with the part of your brain that says Pluto is a planet. Happy Birthday!

  32. Hugo

    That’s brilliant.

    And I’m still fond of Pluto.

    Can’t we make it an ‘Honorary Planet’? For ’76 Years Distinguished Service As The 9th Planet Of Our Solar System’? Please?

  33. Well we now have 2003 EL61 newly rebranded as the dwarf planet Haumea… let’s have a fight about what constitutes “roundness” shall we?

    As for the exoplanets, would you settle for the few dozen which actually have measured radii? :-P

  34. BlondeReb3

    I want yummy design cake!

    And I didn’t realize that Mrs. BA was on Ace of Cakes?

  35. Gary Ansorge

    Yes and she should make those 300+ with their suns and shown to scale( a log scale, perhaps???).(doing the calculations,,,hmmmm)
    ,,,oh well, never mind,,,

    HAppy Bday, Phil. Mine(the 65th) is Sept 27th,,,Woo-who!!! As long as I still see a reflection in the mirror, I know I’m ok,,,

    GAry 7

  36. IBY

    Holy mackarel! That looks yummy! Anyways, which one is Mercury and Pluto? They kind of look the same.

  37. d-84

    I got a TARDIS for my birthday…

    Picture: http://cjmr.livejournal.com/347300.html

  38. amphiox

    Hmm, scale models of all 300+ known exoplanets? It wouldn’t be that hard. Wouldn’t the majority of them all be more or less the same size as the Jupiter cake? (Does density have to be to scale too?)

    And what is the danger that by the time you finish baking all 300, you have to go make another one (or two)?

  39. Erica

    to get the coloring like that on cakes, Mrs. BA will need an air-brush system for food coloring. that would make each planet take about 5 minutes. trying to do that many colors of icing would take about a day. Jupiter will need some extra support, but would be a lot easier to work with if hollowed out and filled with shipped cream or something like that.

  40. Alan Stern

    She left out Pluto, and Eris, and MakeMake, and Ceres….

  41. A Sergeant Zim cake? That would be one tough cake.

    Now, if you wanna talk cake ideas, this is the blog to see: http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/

  42. SpikeNut

    Phil,
    Bake the cakes in the round sports ball pans and wrap them with rolled fondant. The fondant can be painted to look like the planets in the picture or you can mix colored fondant together gently to create the “clouds of Jupiter” effect. The cakes can be placed upon the poles, if you don’t actually plan to move the cake. Or do as they sometimes do on Ace of Cakes which is to use styrofoam covered with fondant for the tricky parts. The rings can also be made with fondant or gumpaste which has hardened for a week or two.

    Larissa

  43. Andrew

    “Well, let’s say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. Based on this morning’s reading, it would be a Twinkie thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.”

  44. Stan9FOS

    “That’s a big Twinkie…”
    (thanks Andrew!)

  45. bob

    hey phil! glad you liked the cake!! and to those who asked, apologies for not making the planets entirely to scale, but that would have been problematic in that the customer did want an earth large enough to be visible, and I needed to fit all of the planets on a cake board big enough to fit in a car, so I had to be suggestive of the scale instead of literal.

    but i did have enough space/time (get it? space/time?) to include the four galilean moons of jupiter and earth’s moon, and four of the planets (venus, earth, jupiter, and neptune) could actually rotate!

    while i’m not quite up to the level of duff in baltimore yet, i’m working on it…

  46. Andy Beaton

    The balancing of the Ghostbuster jokes with the Uranus jokes is complete. We have achieved normality.

  47. Andy Beaton

    “That’s a big Twinkie”.

  48. Winston

    I didn’t realize you were a Wahoo!! It makes me proud to have you as a fellow Alum!
    Cheers,
    Winston (SEAS 92)

  49. Craig

    @Alan Stern who said: “She left out Pluto, and Eris, and MakeMake, and Ceres….”

    …and now there is Humea to add to that list too!

  50. Craig

    …oops, make that “Haumea”. Sorry!

  51. and i promise this is the last “ad”….but i have also done a few spongebobs:

    http://www.cakesbybob.com/spongebob.htm
    http://www.cakesbybob.com/spongebobpatrick.htm

    the second one i kinda like because it also had patrick…:)

    bob

  52. Tyler Durden

    You’re a UVA man?

    I had no idea.

    That’s awesome. I miss Cville.

    I really feel like going down to The Corner and laughing at all the yuppie college kids drinking way more than they can handle and feeling sophisticated because they’re paying three times more than it is worth.

    Ah, the glory of college.

  53. Chris A.

    From what I’ve been able to determine, a more correct pronunciation of Uranus (given its Latin roots) would be “you-RAN-us” (with the final syllable pronounced somewhere in between “us” and “oos.”) I tell people to remember this with the mnemonic “You ran us around in circles.”

  54. Nigel Depledge

    Or, going back to the original Greek root of the name Uranus, it is pronounced “Oo-rahn-os”, which is safe to say in polite company.

    Phil, your request of Mrs BA is easy to fulfil. Based on the IAU’s present definition of “planet”, there are no extrasolar planets, because for something to qualify as a planet it must orbit the Sun. Hmmm … maybe there’s something wrong with the definition…?

    In other news, the Jodrell bank radio observatory has a scale model of the solar system (well, the bodies are not to scale, otherwise all you’d be able to find would be the Sun, Jupiter and Saturn, but the distances between them are to scale) that includes Ceres, Pluto and Eris, but not MakeMake or Haumea. Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are all within spitting distance of the Sun, and it takes about 20 minutes to walk to Eris. Oh, and someone stole Pluto.

  55. Hi. First of all nice post. Thank you for making this public. I love telekinesis.

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