Celebration Cakes after the Civil War

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About
During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, ever more Americans came to celebrate an ever-greater range of occasions, and in more varied and generally more lavish ways. Americans of the more privileged half were becoming wealthier, and their lives easier, due to innumerable technological advances, and they found all sorts of new excuses to party—birthdays, wedding anniversaries, high school graduations, job promotions, retirements, and even whimsical non-occasions, like the change of seasons, a favorite theme of ladies’ luncheons. Instructions, often detailed, for luncheons, afternoon tea parties, dinner parties, and evening parties honoring such events appear in not only cookbooks but also etiquette and entertainment books. And many of the plans entail a special cake.