Every classic birthday party comes down to one big moment: The birthday boy or girl gathers around their cake with all of their family and friends, people sing “Happy Birthday,” and the candles are blown out. Then, you get to the absolute best part of the party: eating a big ol’ piece of cake covered in delicious frosting.[related]
Well, you may want to rethink that. Because after the happy birthday boy or girl blows out the candles on their frosted dessert in the shape of Bugs Bunny or SpongeBob, their cake is completely and totally covered in germs.
According to a new study in the Journal of Food Research, someone blowing out candles can increase the amount of bacteria on a cake by 1400 percent.
Yeah… that’s pretty gross.
In order to figure this out, scientists covered a piece of cake-shaped foam with aluminum foil and frosted it with standard Betty Crocker vanilla frosting. They then stuck 17 candles into the cake and placed them evenly. After simulating a party by smelling and eating a hot slice of pizza (because no party is complete without pizza!), subjects blew on the candles until they all had been extinguished. The findings… well, we mentioned them. After the candles had been blown out, the cakes had 14 times more bacteria on them than before, on average. One cake even had 120 times more bacteria.
So should you start bringing your own desserts to birthday parties? Should you scrape the delicious chocolate frosting off your cake before indulging in dessert? Not so far.
“It’s not a big health concern in my perspective,” Paul Dawson, a professor of food safety at Clemson University and an author of the study told The Atlantic. “In reality if you did this 100,000 times, then the chance of getting sick would probably be very minimal.” Mouths are absolutely swarming with bacteria, but most of them are not particularly harmful. If there was a new birthday cake-induced superdisease, we’d probably know about it by now, anyway.
So, turn your brain off, relax, and just enjoy the cake. It is a party, after all.