Let Us Eat Cake!

The Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s Centennial Cake-Decorating Contest

Cake decorating contest

Debbie Aarestad of Cakes While U Wait lights the candles on her bakery’s cake. Photo by Richard Brodzeller.

What a wildly sweet time it was! The Zoological Society of Milwaukee hosted an animal-themed cake-decorating contest at its Centennial Celebration Kickoff, sponsored by Tri City National Bank, on Jan. 9, 2010.  Nearly 1,200 people came to the Milwaukee County Zoo to see 16 “wild” cakes created by bakeries from southeastern Wisconsin. (Note: The Zoo had its 100th birthday in 1992.)

Centennial logo

The sweet creations ranged from a 3-foot-tall giraffe cake to a giant cake modeled after Samson the gorilla, one of the most famous animals in our Zoo’s history. Guest judges chose the best overall cake and a runner-up, while event visitors voted for a “people’s choice award.”  Meanwhile, visitors could watch experts create a towering cake in real time, complete with tiny edible animals. The women from Cakes While U Wait of Pewaukee were up to the challenge (see photo below). The cake-contest winners are listed below. To see all the cakes, click here for a photo slide show.

The event also featured Old World Wisconsin historical interpreters, a barbershop quartet, a museum-style photo history of the Zoological Society, retro kids’ games, an old-fashioned candy stand and other fun. The guest of honor was the Milwaukee Public Museum’s award-winning replica of Samson the gorilla. Retired zookeeper Sam LaMalfa, one of Samson’s keepers, showed Samson memorabilia and answered questions about the Zoo’s gorillas. Click here for event photos.

First Place Cake Contest Winner

First Place cake contest winner

Regina’s Bay Bakery in Whitefish Bay for a giraffe-shaped cake. Photo by Julia Kolker.


Hippo cake

Eat Cake Milwaukee for a hippo-shaped cake

People's Choice Award:

Also Eat Cake for the hippo cake. Photo by Richard Brodzeller

Cakes While U Wait

Cakes While U Wait of Pewaukee received a special recognition prize for decorating a cake live at the event. Photo by Richard Brodzeller.

Guest Judges:

  • Nancy Stohs, food editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • Kyle Cherek, host of “Wisconsin Foodie” TV show
  • Dr. Robert Davis, Zoological Society of Milwaukee president and CEO
  • Milwaukee County Zoo Director Chuck Wikenhauser
  • Deb Socha, baking/pastry arts instructor at the Milwaukee Area Technical College
  • Tom LaPierre, baking/pastry arts instructor at the Milwaukee Area Technical College

Participating Bakeries:

Cakes While U Wait, Eat Cake, The Extra Special Touch Bakery, Hidden Café, Grebe’s Bakery, Kalahari Waterpark Resort Convention Center, Make Cake Milwaukee, Not Just Cakes from the White House, O&H Danish Bakery, Regina’s Bay Bakery, Shully’s Cuisine & Events, Sweetheart Cakes Inc. and Whole Foods Market.

All bakeries donated their cakes to the Zoological Society’s centennial kickoff. After the event, the Zoological Society donated most of the cakes to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission and the Open Door Café at St. John, a meal program for the homeless.

Click here to launch the slide show.

Celebrating 100 years of support

Join the Zoological Society’s Centennial Celebration in 2010.

Go here for photos, stories and more