Food & Drink
The Cake Everyone Loved the Year You Were Born
Nineties kids, you have Barbie and a chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant to thank for your favorite desserts.
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1950s: German Chocolate Cake

Like all great culinary innovations of our day — Deep-fried Twinkies! Tater dogs on a stick! Pickle dogs! — this treat became mainstream at a state fair. A year later, in 1957, the recipe started popping up in newspapers, and German chocolate sales skyrocketed 73 percent.


Get the recipe from Delish.

1960s: Pink Champagne Cake

Back in the 1960s, Pink Champagne Cake was dubbed the "elite of party cakes," with its light, airy texture (thanks to several egg whites and 3/4 of a cup of Champagne). It remains one of the Los Angeles Times's most-requested recipes.


Try a riff on the trend with these Strawberry Chapagne Cupcakes from Delish.

1966: Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Ella Helfrich may not have won the grand-prize in the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-off (she nabbed second), but she launched a national obsession with her decadent, fudge-filled Tunnel of Fudge Cake. More than 200,000 letters were sent to the Dough Boy's HQ, all requesting the recipe — and where they could find a Bundt pan to make it their own.


Get the recipe from Pillsbury.

1968: Sock-It-To-Me Cake

That famous line from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In got immortalized in cake shortly after Richard Nixon uttered the line while campaigning for prez, writes Anne Byrn in American Cake. The dessert's a sour cream coffee cake, based on a cake mix, and was such a hit that Duncan Hines ran the recipe on the back of the box for years.


Get the recipe from Duncan Hines.

1970 - 1975: Carrot Cake

The health-conscious movement of the early '70s affected everything, cake included (IS NOTHING SACRED?!). Carrot cakes loaded with the vegetable, nuts and plenty of raisins emerged as the uh, "healthy" alternative to traditional chocolate and vanilla desserts, according to The Secret Life of Baked Goods.


Get the recipe from Delish.

1976: Watergate Cake

Watergate Cake, like its close cousin, Watergate Salad, proved that in the '70s, people loved topical desserts — and associating gobs of pistachio with then-president Richard Nixon. The recipe, which calls for pistachio pudding mix, was so popular Giant Foods had a hard time keeping the product on shelves. (YouTube user Nocolorlinesglobal demos exactly how to make it here.)


Get the recipe from FoodTimeline.org.

1977: Rum Cake

Ah, rum. It's not just for tiki drinks and Jack Sparrow jokes. The spirit's been added to cakes since the 1800s, but it really took off in the late '70s, when Bacardi's president had his team create and market a recipe for the cake using 6 ounces of dark rum.

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Get the recipe from Better Recipes.

1978-1979: Hummingbird Cake

This dessert — featuring a blend of mashed banana, cinnamon and crushed pineapple — has one seriously surprising genesis story: It was originally called the Dr. Bird Cake, and it was created as a marketing ploy to get people to visit Jamaica in 1969. It wasn't until Southern Living featured the dish in 1978 that it achieved widespread fame, becoming one of the magazine's most popular cake recipes, according to American Cake.

Get the recipe from Delish.

1980-1981: Wellesley Fudge Cake

This dense chocolate cake, covered in a layer of fudge frosting, is so beloved it was actually added to Wellesley College's centennial time capsule in 1981, so future generations know how to make something other than Hot Pockets and Soylent Green, or whatever's en vogue 100 years from now. Its inclusion is also a subtle jab at the older administration; Wellesley's founder was against snacking and sweets, so students would secretly make fudge, melting chocolate and butter on Bunsen burners borrowed from the chem lab, according to American Cake. The frosting's a nod to those rebellious days.


Get the recipe from Kraft.

1982-1983: Robert Redford Cake

Wanna know when you've truly made it? When you have not one but two cakes vying to be named after you. These days, many people know a layered cheesecake and chocolate pudding treat by that name (or Fat Man's Delight, oddly enough), but in the early '80s, Robert Redford Cake meant Nutella on crack. The chocolate-hazelnut cake was coated in a rich, chocolate ganache, and American Cake states it's the treat the actor was served while dining at Hisae's restaurant in New York.


Get the recipe from the The New York Times.

1984: Country Apple Coffee Cake

Susan Porubcan of Jefferson, Wisconsin, took home the grand prize at the 1984 Pillsbury Bake-Off for her Country Apple Coffee Cake, which involved covering sliced apples with biscuit dough and a whiskey-cinnamon-brown sugar mixture, then baking and topping it with a vanilla glaze. Here's her recipe.


For a caramel apple take, try this bubble-up bake from Delish.

1985-1987: Mississipi Mud Cake

Big hair, big jewelry, big... shoulder pads — the '80s were a time when everything was OTT, and desserts were no different. Decadent chocolate desserts reigned supreme, and recipes everywhere touted "mud" in the titles, suggesting a dense, fudgy treat.

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Mississippi Mud Cake isn't for the faint of heart; it combines a brownie-like base with marshmallow buttercream frosting, rich chocolate ganache and chopped pecans.

Get the recipe on Delish.

1988-1989: Chocolate Praline Layer Cake

Continuing the chocoholic '80s trend is the Chocolate Praline Layer Cake, which won the grand prize in the Pillsbury Bake-Off in '88. For good reason: It tricks out a Devil's Food Cake mix with whipping cream, brown sugar and chopped pecans, and the whole thing's topped with a fluffy whipped cream frosting, chocolate curls and more pecans. We're nuts about it.


Get the recipe from Pillsbury.

1990: Better Than Sex Cake

If we didn't have your attention — and how could we not, given that you're staring at photos of cake?! — we're betting we do now. This racy cake has taken on several forms over the years (and titles: Holy Cow Cake, OMG Cake, Finger Lickin' Good Cake, just to name a few), though the two primary varieties are (1) cake mix, crushed pineapple, vanilla pudding mix, whipped topping, pecans and coconut; or (2), chocolate cake, caramel, sweetened condensed milk, whipped topping and crushed candy bars, according to The Secret Life of Baked Goods. In 1990, a humorist wrote about baking the dish for her family, who responded very matter-of-factly: "Mom, it's just a cake. You understand that, don't you?"


Get the recipe from The Chic Site.

1991-1992: Molten Chocolate Cake

Jean-Georges Vongerichten may not have realized he was changing the future of restaurant desserts when he added a chocolate cake with a gooey center on the menu at his Michelin-starred restaurant back in '87, but by 1991, the craze had taken hold, with copycats popping up in high-end restaurants everywhere. Nowadays it's totally mainstream: You can't eat at a Chili's or Applebee's without seeing a similar version there, too.


Get the recipe from Delish.

1993-1995: Barbie Brithday Cake

If you went to a kid's birthday party in the early '90s, there's a good chance this cake was the centerpiece of the entire soiree (unless you only befriended Alex P. Keaton types). The cake was so undeniably popular it became a staple of supermarket bakery menus everywhere, and even inspired Martha Stewart to take on the trend.


Get the recipe from Delish.

1996: Boston Cream Pie

Talk about stiff competition: The Boston Cream Pie beat out the chocolate chip cookie to become the official Massachusetts State Dessert in '96. And yes, it's called pie, but you can't deny that the layers sandwiching that creme filling are definitively cakes. It counts. 

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Get the recipe from Delish.

1997-1999: Coca-Cola Cake

When you're living in the South, you don't ask someone if they want a soda, you ask if they want a Coke, so it's only fitting a Coca-Cola sheet cake is also regionally famous there. The dessert started popping up at potlucks in the 1950s, but it hit nationwide fame in the late '90s, after Cracker Barrel added a version to its menu


Get the recipe from Coca-Cola.

2000: Vanilla Cupcakes

Carrie Bradshaw started a cultural phenomenon — and the whole cupcakery trend, to some degree — after she discussed her relationship woes over one of Magnolia's famous, pink-frosted vanilla cupcakes during season three. The show may be long over, but the treats are every bit as delish.


Learn how to master Magnolia's signature swirl here.

2001-2004: Tres Leches

This dessert, a sponge cake soaked in a syrup made from three milks and topped with whipped cream, has been around for decades, but it had a huge moment in the early 2000s. The Austin Chronicle wrote a feature on the dessert that'd swept the state, deeming it the "new tiramisu of the millennium," and both Häagen-Dazs and Blue Bell got on board, creating ice creams in honor of the flavor.


2005-2006: Sprinkles Cupcakes

Just a few months after Sprinkles opened, Oprah's people came calling, asking her to send a batch to the Chicago-based show. It started the talk show queen's love affair with the brand, as well as lines that wrapped around the block for its red velvet cupcakes.


Get founder Candace Nelson's tips for making Sprinkles-caliber cupcakes.

2007: Texas Sheet Cake

When Ree Drummond (AKA the Pioneer Woman) blogged that her Texas Sheet Cake was "the best ever" in 2007, the internet didn't disagree. There were probably some trolls, sure, but the recipe's been insanely popular — and it introduced many people to the chocolate- and pecan-confection who'd never heard of it before.


Get the recipe from Pioneer Woman

Or try a Hostess cupcake-inspired version on Delish.

2008-2009: Smith Island Cake

In 2008, this East Coast staple received nationwide attention when it became Maryland's official state dessert. The Smith Island Cake, named after the island where the treat was invented, consists of eight to 10 thin layers of yellow cake, all frosted and covered with a fudgy chocolate icing. 

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Get the recipe from SmithIsland.org.

2012: Rainbow Cake

Along with the rise of Pinterest came an explosion of technicolor cakes, letting you literally taste the rainbow. And the food coloring. So. Much. Food. Coloring.


Get the recipe from Delish.

2013-2015: Red Velvet Cake

Is there anything red velvet-flavored, scented or inspired that you can't buy these days? It's been reimagined as a candle, lip balm, Oreo, Pop-Tart — even chicken and waffles — and appears in dozens of recipes. If you wanted to, you could probably find a way to eat an entire day's worth of food that's exclusively red velvet. Challenge ... accepted? 


Get the recipe on Delish.

2016: Unicorn Cheesecake

If you've ever wondered what a unicorn tastes like, let's clear things up right now: It tastes like ... pastel food coloring and rainbow sprinkles. (Aren't you glad we debunked that for you?) The trend's been an internet phenomenon, inspiring restaurant menus, bloggers and entire cafes to try it out. Now you can, too.


Get the recipe from Delish.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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