Before I was a cake monster, I was a museum lover, so when my friend, who, for purposes of blog anonymity, shall hence forth be called Mercutio Krispytreats, asked me to accompany him on a trip to the History Museum, I was already in. One thing I’ve never really appreciated about St. Louis until I visited other cities is all of the shenanigans you can get into FOR FREE. And the History Museum, much like my cake exploration, is one of them.
So on ye olde fateful day of February 22nd, 2014, I set out on what would mark a turning point in my young life.
I had previously heard some rumblings about a cake exhibition from various sources (read: my mom) but hadn’t taken much notice. This nonchalant attitude for what would be the greatest adventure of my life was even more apparent when Mercutio and I approached the entrance to the History Museum, and he and I walked RIGHT BY the first cake I would see in person (in fiberglass?).
As we made a pact to come back and marvel at the cake-y wonder on our way out, we ventured into the uncharted territory of the History Museum.
At this point, it must be mentioned that while I enjoy the occasional museum visit, the History Museum is not one of my most favorite locations due in large part to it’s flagrant use of mannequins to illustrate such pointed times in our city’s history as the 1904 World’s Fair or as I like to call it from what I’ve seen at the History Museum: The 1904 Sketch-fest. In this exhibit, mannequins of all shapes and sizes run rampant with no regard for the mannequin-appreciating-impaired. I’ll take a rain check on that one.
A sample of my mannequin fear in action at the Botanical Gardens circa 2013:
To this end, I was more than a little apprehensive about spending an afternoon immersing myself in an exhibit whose mannequin policy I was not fully aware of.
However, mannequin related fears aside, the exhibit was wonderful. The first thing to take in is a reel with highlights from the city’s 250 years. This opened onto a shallow hallway lined on both sides with panels dedicated to an influential person or event in the city’s history. At the end of the hallway was a corner filled with interactive screens that you could touch to learn more about a particular city-shaping event. Finally there was a large screen and a longer movie that went into more detail about some of the images that were plastered around the exhibit.
I’ll admit: it was pretty rad.
Once we had exhausted all there was to see in the exhibit and paid the other exhibits their due, we made our way outside to the location of the first cake. As we started snapping pictures of the cake and walking around it to take in it’s fully glory, I began to feel within me that same feeling that men of times past must have felt when they felt a quest coming on. And not just any quest, a noble quest, a mystical quest, a quest worth dedicating one’s life to, or in my case, at the very least, the rest of 2014.
Even though I was mightily intrigued, I didn’t know much about this quest that was simmering beneath my bosom, so as we walked back to the car, Mercutio told me all he knew about what we discovered is officially called Cakeway to the West.*
What really cemented my dream of caking hunting though was an expected sight on our journey back to the car. As we turned a slight corner, I caught a glimpse of the side of another cake, right there, a hundred feet way from the first cake. At that moment, I was faced with a dilemma: keep listening to Mercutio regale me with tales of high adventure on the Cakeway to the West front, or make a break for it and run to the cake at full speed with no care for other people (children excluded) or the rest of Mr. Krispytreat’s story. I chose to run.
Ok, let’s be honest, I don’t run, but I dare say I galloped my way to the second cake, excited to take in it’s majesty. Finding this second cake solidified my mission: to find the other 248 cakes hidden in places I could only imagine. For at the time, I could not help but think that task must not be very difficult as out of the 250 cakes that are scattered across the St. Louis area, I had already found two, and I wasn’t even trying! What an easy task it must be to find the rest! And the rest as they say, is history…museum…
*A little cake story: To commemorate the 250th birthday of St. Louis, artists were commissioned to paint/decorate/do art to 250 fiberglass ‘cakes.’ All of the cakes start out the same way, with three tiers and a candle at the top, and the artists were given free reign to jazz them up however they saw fit. Then at different intervals throughout the first part of 2014, the cakes were installed in locations across St. Louis, the counties, and parts of Illinois for reasons that can only be described as a complete disregard for my car’s gas mileage. There is no prize for finding them, unless you count the sweet high five I give myself when I successfully find one, and no real way to tell who has found the most other than the occasional social media post. So while I enjoy talking about the cakes, especially with those who least expect it…random lady at the park, you know who you are…the main reason for this quest is to live out the most epic game of seek and find the world has ever known!!
For serious though, one day, when all the cakes have been found and my hands are tired from all the high fives I’ve administered, I’d like to create a picture book or other keepsake to show my children and their children, so they have some idea that while there some crazy parts to St. Louis (…East St. Louis, I’m talking to you specifically…), there still is a lot of good and really meaningful culture here. And I’ll take this rare break in tone to say, that’s pretty ridiculously cool.
Good on you St. Louis. Good on you.