Character cakes, please just go away. Seriously.

Decorating By AZCouture Updated 24 Jan 2014 , 4:17am by Elcee

AZCouture Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 7:08pm
post #1 of 31

AUsually it doesn't bother me, cause hey, kids usually want a cake with whatever their favorite character or music group, or whatever plastered all over it. I give the usual reply about not creating cakes with licensed logos, or figurines, etc. Sometimes people appreciate my explanation of designing something complimentary to the theme, rather than outright reproduction of the desired character, like something pink and polka dotty with bows and a name in "similar" font to Disney, for a Minnie Mouse cake, but not the ears or her all know what I mean.

But somedays, it's all I can do but throw my phone across the room. Now, I'm not going to go accusing therresidents of my area of having much culture, or sense of adventure, no, it's pretty podunk, and I'm grateful that there are just enough willing to get something cool, and lots of repeat clientele, so yay, thank God. But the majority of requests start just like this: "How much for dis?" And it's a picture of a Mickey Mouse cake. Just yesterday, I had to explain in three different ways why I wouldn't do it. And I got back "Soooooo, you can't make a cake like this, it doesn't look hard." Face palm, phone nearly flew across room.

But when she replied with "ok, well another person said they'd do it and for half as much.", I just about lost it. That's all really. Usually it doesn't bother me, but when twenty other people with zero regard for copyright law are just lining up, and to do it cheaper, it's a little irksome.

30 replies
MBalaska Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 8:38pm
post #2 of 31

It would be bad to have photos of MIckie & Minnie with those big red 'X's" across their faces in your window, right. Like the Most wanted list at the Post Office.   ≈ kidding.≈ 


I'm glad that I donated all of mine to the Sally Ann, I figured the pans were just for MOM's making a home cake for their kids.  It never occurred to me that the MOM's would all go into business selling those cakes.


The comment from your customer, "It doesn't look hard" is enough to throw the phone by itself.

SweetCarolines Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 9:14pm
post #4 of 31

When I was in school I wanted so badly to get recruited by Disneyland. It was LA; they came 'round like every month.


I know I'm never gonna be one of the greats. I'm never gonna be that great confectioner everyone raves about. 


But man, did I dodge a bullet there.

AZCouture Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 9:20pm
post #5 of 31

AOh not not the character pan cakes, the tiered ones, usually with those dang ears, the dumb suspenders, and the stupid feet sticking out of the bottom tier. Those kind, and variations of. Can you tell I'm just such a fan? And without fail, they're just looking for something cheap. Blah.

What job was Disney recruiting for?

Mimi...yes, exactly. Oh, add Hello Kitty to the list. And that minion sitting with a cupcake in his crotch. THAT one especially.

howsweet Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 9:38pm
post #6 of 31

I feel your pain. For a long time I quit even trying to work something out. I'd just say sorry, no and goodbye  -- because it's so frustrating. 


I've started selling them on the idea of using toy figures, but you can't really put them on the those elegant cakes you make. I did this over the weekend. The customer already had the  figures and the Frozen princess looked really nice on there. It can be hard to get them to go with it. In this case I found a picture of a cake that already had figures on it, but then we had to pretty much go off that design.




Apparently that's exactly right.

AZCouture Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 10:42pm
post #7 of 31

ASee, now that's an adorable cake. Compliment the theme, not overwhelm it with blatant logos and in your face references.

costumeczar Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 10:47pm
post #8 of 31

i just turned down a request for one of the stacked cake with a superhero logo on each tier. I should just quote them $800 for it and they'd pass out and be done with it.

Nadiaa Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 10:57pm
post #9 of 31

I've made character cakes for my kids for their birthday, but would never, ever sell one. I actually think it's more fun to design a cake around a theme (howsweet's cake is a perfect example - what kid wouldn't adore that cake??). The character cakes I made for my kids were some of my first, and I'm moving away from doing those for them anymore. They are actually starting to love looking at cake designs with me and choosing different elements to add to their cake. I'm always shocked at the amount of people willing to ignore copyright law and make those cakes. But I can say when I start selling my cakes I will be the only person in my area who refuses to make them.

AZCouture Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 11:14pm
post #10 of 31

AThankfully Alice in Wonderland isn't protected anymore, it's my favorite theme of all, and so many ways to do it. But any Disney version is off limits. I did the Onceler house for my son's birthday, and that's about it. I used to crank out theme cakes, but got sick of it a few years ago and didn't realize that some of those places really do go after decorators. So no thanks.

AZCouture Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 11:24pm
post #11 of 31


Original message sent by costumeczar

i just turned down a request for one of the stacked cake with a superhero logo on each tier. I should just quote them $800 for it and they'd pass out and be done with it.

You know who's responsible for THAT craze right, our dear friend Piece of Cake! She made that one that circulates the web and ends up in everyone's inbox at least once.

SPCOhio Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 11:45pm
post #13 of 31

AThis is why I would like to stay out of the kids' market altogether and focus on wedding cakes only. I have made some of these character themed cakes in the past, but haven't charged for them as they have been for my family and close friends. The only bad thing about that is people who have come to the parties have seen the work and so want the same thing for their parties (another gripe-recreating the same cake over and thank you). Can one survive on wedding cakes alone, though?

Nadiaa Posted 20 Jan 2014 , 11:51pm
post #14 of 31

SPCOhio, this is why I'm moving away from character cakes for my children. I do want to start a cake business someday and I want people to look at my cakes and want to buy them. Parents of my children's friends included. I actually love making celebration cakes (I don't make wedding cakes though).


Sixinarow - I KNOW!!! What is the deal with that? Hobby for profit? Pfft! There's no difference!

MBalaska Posted 21 Jan 2014 , 12:01am
post #15 of 31

hmmmm,  You only have one wedding....oops OK maybe two or three.  And people don't always have Big High end celebrations for their anniversaries.

But a family of 5 has five birthdays a year, every year, year after year.  Would you be limiting yourself, maybe not if you live in a highly populated town.

AZCouture Posted 21 Jan 2014 , 12:03am
post #16 of 31

AI wish sometimes I could get away with only doing weddings. But dang it, the challenging and fun ones are usually the celebration cakes. Just few and far between at times.

morganchampagne Posted 21 Jan 2014 , 1:17am
post #18 of 31

AYes and yes. I have found the character cakes to be loathsome. And I just don't know if it's because it's my pet peeve or what. But it's sob frustrating to explain that the other person who is doing the cake all while simultaneously undercutting is the one in the wrong. I end up being the expensive mean cake lady who won't give their kid the "cake of their dreams"

Nadiaa Posted 21 Jan 2014 , 1:23am
post #19 of 31

Better to be an 'expensive mean cake lady' than a 'cheap law breaking cake lady' :D

morganchampagne Posted 21 Jan 2014 , 1:32am
post #20 of 31

AIndeed!!! Lol

MBalaska Posted 21 Jan 2014 , 1:39am
post #21 of 31

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.

DeliciousDesserts Posted 21 Jan 2014 , 2:09am
post #22 of 31

A #1, you do AMAZING nods at characters.  Truly. Amazing.


The truth is it is always harder to be of character.  When I feel myself challenged, I smile knowing I am doing the right thing regardless of what others do.  I take the high road.  I'm better for it.

brendajarmusz Posted 21 Jan 2014 , 2:29am
post #23 of 31

AWhat???? Hobby for profit????? That's the most insane thing I've ever heard. Lol. It kills me when people say they know someone who could do it for alot cheaper, makes me want to say then WHY DID YOU COME TO ME?? Also want to say if they can do it cheaper thats great but you may find that your cheaper cake will be exactly that. CHEAP!! And CHEAPLY MADE. SMH. :-)

DeliciousDesserts Posted 21 Jan 2014 , 3:07am
post #24 of 31

A"You may get a cake for cheaper, but you won't get THIS cake!"

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 22 Jan 2014 , 10:15pm
post #27 of 31

Kind of nice being an amateur: I don't have anybody bugging me to do cakes involving intellectual property I'm not duly licensed to use.


Which is to say, when I go to an edible printing supplier with an image file I didn't create, I make damn sure I have it in writing that it's either PD, GPL, or Creative Commons. Or that I'm a bona-fide representative of the copyright owner. And I'm kind of disappointed that nobody's yet asked me to produce said documents.


Still: I wonder what Mort Walker would say, if asked for a cake clearance on a character from Beetle Bailey. Or Bill Holbrook, for a character from On the Fastrack (he does have a fan-art section on the strip's official web site). Or Brooke McEldowney, for either 9 Chickweed Lane or Pibgorn.


I note that Rich Tennant has made a whole business of licensing his The 5th Wave panel cartoons.

MBalaska Posted 22 Jan 2014 , 11:00pm
post #28 of 31

What do they bug you to do

hbquikcomjamesl Posted 23 Jan 2014 , 4:02am
post #29 of 31


Original message sent by MBalaska

What do they bug you to do

Well, when somebody bugs me to do something that's well above my pay grade, it generally doesn't involve baked goods. With the notable exception of the "wood type cookie" project of 2012.

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