For millions around the world, cakes are an integral part of just about any celebration. From the conventional birthday cake to cakes for an assortment of other holidays, from graduation cakes to housewarming cakes and apology cakes, it seems these baked treats are always appropriate. If you can describe the occasion or situation in frosting, you can mark it with a cake.
In 2015, CNBC reported that a father in the United Arab Emirates rolled out on a truly remarkable cake for his daughter’s engagement/birthday party. Britain’s Debbie Wingham, maker of elite designer clothes and accessories, crafted the elaborate, diamond-encrusted confection, which features tiny figures decked out in handcrafted versions of Wingham’s wares. It was purchased for a cool $75 million, reportedly the priciest cake ever sold.
Needless to say, a piece of cake doesn’t need to cost astronomical sums to be special. It seems that beloved actor Alan Alda actually met his wife thanks to a humble old regular rum cake.
HOW A DROPPED RUM CAKE BROUGHT ALAN AND ARLENE ALDA TOGETHER
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Alan Alda, who played the iconic Hawkeye Pierce in “M*A*S*H,” has had quite the distinguished career. As Britannica reports, he has starred in Broadway shows like 2014’s “Love Letters,” a wide range of movies (from 1978’s “Same Time, Next Year” to “Marriage Story,” and other prominent television roles in shows like “30 Rock” and “ER.” Through it all, he has had his beloved wife Arlene by his side.
Parade reported in 2019 that the Aldas married in 1957, and have eight grandchildren from their three daughters. When the outlet asked for the secret of their long and happy marriage, Alda responded, frankly yet sweetly, “There’s no relationship as close as marriage that doesn’t go through a time when you’re so much at odds that you’re yelling. But it’s helpful to remember that the person you’re yelling at is someone who you love.”
The New York Times reports that the loving pair met in a similarly raw, real, and touching way. In 1956, both were separately invited to a party. While there, a rum cake was inadvertently knocked to the ground. It would surely have been thrown away and gone to waste, if two of the attendees hadn’t been determined to go ahead and eat it anyway. Which two? Naturally, it was the future Mr. and Mrs. Alda. And so they began to bond immediately over their love of floor cake.
THE ALDAS ARE STILL LOVING FREE SPIRITS, DECADES OF MARRIAGE LATER
In a Tweet in August 2021, Alda himself clarified the fantastic story a little bit. According to him, while they did indeed enjoy the cake together, their eyes didn’t lock over it, “Lady and the Tramp” style. He, in fact, found himself entranced by Arlene before the cake hit the floor. “I was captivated by her even earlier in the meal,” he wrote, “when I heard her at the end of the table laughing at my jokes.”
For her part, Arlene was smitten by him just as quickly. She said, per The New York Times, “he was a kindred spirit who was also funny … there was this great chemistry.” At the end of their evening, she recalled, “he took me home to the Bronx,” and their whirlwind, cake-fueled relationship proved so successful that they were married within a year.
The fun, closeness, and silliness that defined their first encounter continues to be the key to their relationship. In Arlene’s words (per The New York Times), “[laughter is] the … glue that keeps us happily and willingly stuck together.”
There’s a lesson here. During the difficult times that emerge in all relationships, try to remember what’s really important: the unifying power of cake.