Columbia students finally got to have their cake and eat it too on Wednesday thanks to a creative edible sculpture baked by the planning team of next spring's Varsity Show.
One hundred and eight homemade cakes were put together by Varsity Show participants in a life-sized rendition of the fountains that grace both sides of Low Plaza. The stunt was intended as a parody of the Low Library presentation cake from the 250th anniversary kickoff weekend, which few people got to taste because it was made almost entirely from wood and steel beams.
"Our plywood-to-cake ratio is much, much lower than the Low cake," laughed Varsity Show co-producer Paul Gelinas, CC '04.
The shape of the cake, Gelinas said, was designed to capture the oft-cited phallic shape of the two fountains, which the creative team highlighted by placing red Jello on the top of their creation.
"Oh my gosh, do they know how sexual that looks?" giggled two female students while passing by the giant cake on their way to class.
"Oh, we know," Gelinas responded cheerfully.
The cake was the product of a few days' hard work by the creative team's members, who developed the idea for the public display in a brainstorming session to come up with ways to make the Varsity Show more than a once-a-year event. The team appointed a master chef, Isabelle Levy, CC '05, and after a trip to Brooklyn's Costco Warehouse on Monday began to bake.
Levy said that the shopping trip began with a dilemma when, to her surprise, the store did not sell boxes of cake mix. After deciding that they could in fact bake 108 cakes from scratch, the group borrowed a cookbook from inside the store and purchased all necessary ingredients, including 50 pounds of flour, 50 pounds of sugar, and nearly 200 sticks of butter.
Levy and team member David Paul, CC '04, with help from friends, mixed all the cake batter in Paul's Hogan Hall suite, then doled it out in plastic bags to volunteers who then returned finished cakes.
On Tuesday night, the creative team put the entire structure together in the Roone Arledge Auditorium as a test run and brought it out to Low Plaza on Wednesday morning.
"I didn't really sleep last night," Gelinas said on Wednesday. "It's all adrenaline at this point."
The group cut the cake with a rubber spatula in a 2 p.m. ceremony, much to the delight of the hordes of students waiting for a piece.
"Man, a celebration cake that we actually get to eat," marveled one student. "Bollinger should pay attention to this."
Gelinas said that Varsity Show cast and crew members are working on planning other events to make the show a year-round club, rather than simply a springtime performance. The rest of the year will bring two or three more "mini-events" to advertise the group's presence on campus, team members said.