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I Was Told There Would Be Cake

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"Ladies! Gentlemen! Everybody stop what you're doing for a sec. I have gained access to a cake!!"
T-Rex, Dinosaur Comics

Cake — the ultimate reward. Seriously, it seems like in games one of the standard rewards you can give someone, other than gold, XP or power stars, is cake. It's sweet, it's lovely, and it's something you normally only get at birthdays and weddings. The perfect way to shrug off the stresses and worries of saving the world — cake.

Can overlap with The Cake Is a Lie, as long as the promised reward is cake.

And, of course, ever since the release of The Orange Box, the appearance of this Trope makes it inevitable that somebody will reference Portal's promises of cake.

A subtrope of Food as Bribe, which is all food bribes that aren't cake. If the cake is your only motivation for doing something, you might be Just Here for the Free Snacks. If someone stole your cakes, then That's Terrible.

This Trope page was supported by the Society For Cake Promotion


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  • One rather dark ad for Chips Ahoy showed a talking, child-sized cookie at a child's birthday party, wearing a pointy hat, singing and everything. He asks where the cake is. She tells him there is no cake. Oh.
  • Around 2000, AOL was running ads touting how improved the service was. In one ad, an AOL user brings a homemade cake into a cubicle-style office to thank the person responsible. The whole office becomes suddenly awake, with one woman peering from behind a wall saying "I smell cake!"
  • The classic Hostess comic book ads taught a generation of readers that any supervillain can be distracted and immobilized by tossing them some yummy Hostess brand snack cakes. It's surprising the heroes don't use this useful trick more often!
  • Namedropped by Flo of Progressive Insurance, when she states that getting car insurance through Progressive is a piece of cake, but instead of cake, there's a pie. "I was told there would be cake."

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Bibidi is only able to control Buu by giving him cake.
  • In the K-On! manga/anime, many of the club members or the teacher in charge of them are bought off or motivated by cake.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: When Madoka can't think of anything to use her wish on, Mami suggests cake.
  • Yotsuba&!: When Yotsuba attends Fuka's school's festival, she is told they'll have cake. There is cake, but Yotsuba is far from impressed on learning it's pound cake. Attempts to rectify this by giving her a crepe are only partially successful.

    Card Games 

  • Eddie Izzard's "Cake or Death" routine.
  • George Carlin's "Refrigerator Man" routine, including the mystery of "meat cake".
  • Jim Gaffigan has a whole sequence on the power of cake, how cake can bring enemies together, how pancakes are mysteriously considered wholesome breakfast food, etc.
    "It's Bill's birthday."
    "Yeah, I hate that guy."
    "There's cake in the conference room."
    "Well, I should say hello."
  • Whereas for Bill Cosby, even chocolate cake is a wholesome breakfast food.
    "Eggs! Eggs are in chocolate cake! And milk, oh goody! And wheat! That's nutrition!"
    • Although in his childhood, it wasn't cake that his parents used as a distraction from the ordeal of getting his tonsils taken out, it was the promise of ice-cream.
  • Swedish comedian Johan Glans has a routine about how he's realised that he's getting old. One of the things that made him realise that was apparently that, when arriving at parties, he has started asking the host if there will be cake.
  • Patton Oswalt's "Sky Cake" bit.
  • Mitch Hedberg wishes that long hair didn't connote "drug user", but something else, like "an extreme longing for cake".
    "Mothers telling their daughters, 'Don't bring the cake-eater over here anymore. He smells like flour. Did you notice how his eyes widened when he found out your birthday was fast approaching?'"
  • Greg Behernedt refers to his love of cake several times:
    "I will go anywhere if you say the phrase 'there might be cake.' Not even a definite... there might be cake, and I'm there. I would go to the Department of Motor Vehicles, register somebody else's boat in Spanish, a language I do not speak, without ID — for cake."
    "I'm getting married in a couple weeks. Wanna know why? CAKE! There's a human-sized cake at the end! Haven't you been listening? CAKE!"
  • Dylan Moran called cake 'the language of love':
    "I love you, I love you, I love you!"
    "Yeah? Give me a fucking eclair"

    Comic Books 
  • This line delivered by Volstagg in a Thor comic, upon arriving with a handful of other Asgardians at the Broxton City Hall, shortly after Asgard was relocated there (it's even quoted in Marvel Database):
    "Excuse us... but we heard... we heard there was cake, and, well... what unfortunate day's events are not made gladder by cake?"
  • Hägar the Horrible and Lucky Eddie raid the royal wedding in this strip; the best part of the loot? The cake.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the So Bad, It's Good Hulk Hogan vehicle Suburban Commando, intergalactic bounty hunter Shep Ramsay adapts to the suburban lifestyle with a mix of grievous bodily harm and property damage... but it's all against assholes, and is thus rewarded with cake. Shep is initially confused that Earthlings eat the stuff, but then tastes it and promptly wolfs it down.
  • In Office Space, Milton claims that at a previous birthday party (at which there was cake, but at which he did not receive cake), he was told that he would receive cake at the next party. That party occurs in the movie, and there is cake, but Milton does not receive any cake.
  • In Stargate: Continuum, O'Neill expects this to follow the ceremony in which the last Goa'uld will be extracted.

  • Sort of the Trope Namer: I Was Told There'd Be Cake — the chronicles of one woman's attempts to meet various unmet expectations, petty annoyances, imponderables and absurdities with only the occasional promise of cake at a wedding or some such.
  • In the children's book Big Max by Kin Platt, the King of Pooka Pooka offers Big Max a room full of rubies, a room full of emeralds, or a room full of gold for finding Jumbo, his prize elephant. When Jumbo is found, though (he was at his birthday party), all Big Max asks for is a piece of the birthday cake.
  • Cake was the reward in The Poky Little Puppy, too.
  • Cake is totally an obsession (and Trademark Favorite Food) in Stephanie Plum.
  • From the Discworld novel Night Watch: There is no more time, even for cake. For you the cake is over. You have reached the end of cake.
  • From the Thursday Next novel The Woman Who Died A Lot:
    "I agree it's complicated," I said with a shrug. "Working in fiction does give one a somewhat tenuous hold on reality, but it's not the hold that's tenuous — it's the reality: Which reality? Whose reality? Does it matter anyway? And will there be cake?"
    "And was there?"
    "Was there what?"
    "Generally speaking, yes."
  • Darkly parodied in A Song of Ice and Fire. The surviving leaders of Meereen, whose level of misogyny borders on delusion, try to pressure the female warlord who has just conquered their city and killed their family members to go in a kitchen and bake them a cake, in accordance with their cultural ideals. They literally believe that women have no higher motivations than cake. Shockingly, Daenerys is not amused by this. Or their followup suggestion: that she wash a man's feet to prove her suitability as a "handmaiden".

    Live-Action TV 
  • Boy Meets World: This is how Mr. Feeny and Cory convince Shawn to take Fenny's SAT. Prep course
    Feeny: (at Cory's urging) Well, I suppose there could be... cake, or something.
    Shawn: Really? Cake?
    Feeny: (scowling): I don't know.
    (cut to a scene later with everyone studying in the class room... with Shawn eating cake)
  • In one episode of Burn Notice, Sam promises an entire office department of employees cake in order to lure them to a conference room where he could distract them with a motivational speech while Michael and his newest client break into a supervisor's office to hack a computer.
  • On Heroes, when Sylar kills a woman who can detect lies on her birthday, her colleagues enter her office with presents to find Sylar with blood all over his hands and a delightful smile on his face as he asks "Cake?"
  • In Little Lunch, Mrs. Goncha's typical reward to the class, or contribution to any celebration, is a pavlova.
  • The Office: While temporarily in charge, Jim decides to celebrate all the office birthdays for the year on one day to cut down on expenses. The plan unravels when everyone demands their own favorite type/flavor of cake for "their" birthday portion. Except for Creed, who wants cobbler instead.
  • Stargate SG-1's Jack O'Neill frequently mentions cake, and has invoked this Trope by name at least once.
  • Stitchers' Detective Fisher invoked this Trope in the 8th episode.

  • "If I knew you were coming, I'd have baked a cake, baked a cake, baked a cake..."
  • Cibo Matto's "Birthday Cake"
  • The Sandra Boynton album Dog Train includes a song about a little girl stuck at an adult party. "How can it be a party when they don't have cake?"

    Video Games 
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • Super Mario 64: Mario saves the Princess for what must be the billionth time and what does he get? A bag of gold? 2^64-1 grains of rice? Grotesque sexual favors? No, cake. Cake that he was already going to get before saving the Princess... but that's enough. (Naturally, VG Cats has something to say about that.)
    • While this game predates Portal (the Trope Namer for The Cake Is a Lie) by several years, a similar situation happens at the beginning; Mario is invited to the castle by a letter promising cake, when he arrives, Bowser has kidnapped Peach and taken over the castle. At least Peach does make cake at the end in this case.
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2 has Peach inviting Mario to her castle via a letter asking if he'd fancy watching shooting stars, whilst eating cake.
    • Even Bowser himself gets one at the end of Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.
    • In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars the cake is a two-part boss that tries to stop your party as they are ready to leave Marrymore. And then Booster comes and eats the boss cake just as the battle winds down because "you have to eat cake at a party".
    • At the very beginning of New Super Mario Bros. Wii, the Koopalings kidnap Peach by ambushing her from within a huge cake and then trapping her with it.
    • In Paper Mario 64, Tayce T. gives you a cake for returning her frying pan. You also have to bake a cake for an extremely fat Shy Guy. Or you could use the cake she gives you to the Shy Guy, but all to the same effect.
    • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, two of the sidequestsnote  have cake — the Couple's Cake and Choco Cake, specifically — as a reward.
  • Portal uses the big contrast between the hell that Chell is expected to perform through and the pettiness of the reward of Cake as humor. It exaggerates this pettiness with the Room Full of Crazy's over-dramatic exclamation of "The Cake Is a Lie", and sends up the concept of video games rewards in general. The whole cake thing came about in development, when the team sat down to decide what philosophy the game would be based around. After a while of thinking, someone suggested, "A lot of people like cake."
  • GLaDOS herself defies this trope when she appears as the dealer in Poker Night 2 and gives you a Paranoia Core as a prize for winning a tournament instead.
    GLaDOS: I hope you weren't expecting baked desserts, because I don't do that anymore.
  • 'Splosion Man has a cake hidden in every non-boss level. 47 cakes in all. Getting every last one them nets you the achievement "Not a Portal Reference".
  • Cakes are rare healing items (that give a boost to both MP and HP) in MapleStory. They can be bought from certain shops, and are very rare drops from cake-based enemies.
  • In Monster Rancher 2, your monster is rewarded with cake and a song on its birthday. If memory serves, it relieves stress and fatigue a fairly small amount while raising its weight. In at least one other game in the series, cake is a regular item with similar properties.
  • In The Sims 2: University, the Cow Plant uses a blatantly-fake-but-admittedly-tasty-looking piece of cake as a lure for Sims. When one of them grabs for it, the plant eats them. Then the owner of the plant can milk it and drink the dead Sim's life essence (which extends their own life).
  • In Mega Man ZX, if you speak to a certain NPC on your birthday (which is recorded in the DS' system memory), she'll give you a cake. It's an expendable item in your inventory that recovers about 8-10 bars of life.
  • In World of Warcraft, there is a hard-to-get recipe for "Delicious Chocolate Cake". Getting the recipe and baking the cake earns the achievement "The Cake Is Not A Lie". (Eating it "Makes You Very Happy", as to the Tasty Cupcake, which simply makes you "happy".)
  • Stated word for word by Sten during one of the possible endings of Dragon Age: Origins.
    "Where is the cake? I was told there would be cake. The Cake Is a Lie."
  • Most Harvest Moon games have some sort of holiday that centers around handing out cake (or baked goods of some sort). In Magical Melody, this occurs on Valentine's Day. Your character can give out pieces and you will be given pieces by people who like you enough.
  • Cake can be found randomly in levels in most Kirby games.
    • Each stage of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards (except for boss battles) ends with the characters having a nice picnic, and you play a little minigame where Kirby can pick up some extra items. This includes a slice of cake that heals some of Kirby's health.
    • In Kirby: Squeak Squad, a stolen piece of strawberry shortcake is Kirby's entire motivation.
  • In Animal Crossing, a random villager will give you a cake on your birthday. It is apparently one of the few furniture pieces that raises your feng shui wherever it is placed.
  • Cake was added to Minecraft in Beta update 1.2 to celebrate the game winning Indie of the year. It's the most complicated food recipenote  in the game, but the resulting cake can heal 90% of your health bar, and you can eat one-sixth of it at a time so you don't need to wait until you're on the verge of dying to ensure that you don't waste any of its healing potential. When beta 1.8 was released, a Hunger Meter was added and all food items affected that instead of health. Each slice of cake restored 1 point of hunger, up to 6 in total. Cake became a bit impractical because of it.
  • In RuneScape's Thanksgiving 2011 holiday event, Turkey Protest, one of the turkey attendees seems to find the protest boring and is only present because he was told there would be cake.
  • In Atelier games, cakes usually have very rewarding cost-to-profit ratio (not to mention being a good recovery item by itself). In Atelier Viorate, you can fill your shop with cakes and then go adventuring without much worries about your finance.
  • Fat Princess focuses on this trope somewhat indirectly. While cakes are not exactly rewards, they are helpful in grabbing, serving and fattening your hostage princess so she's slowed down in escape.
  • The Red Princess' story-mode in Playstation Allstars Battle Royale plays this completely straight: once the cake supply started to get low, the princess ventures off to new lands (aka, the other Playstation worlds) in search of more cake note . Some of her battle quotes have her wondering why there isn't any cake involved in the fight, or when the other fighters will be having a snack break.
  • Mortal Kombat II: Kitana's Friendship finisher is her handing her opponent a cake with candles.
  • Stardew Valley: The Junimo spirits reward the player for giving them various sets ("bundles") of items. Completing one of the Vault bundles results in three elaborate chocolate cakes spontaneously appearing in the player's inventory.
  • In Billy vs. SNAKEMAN, doing science may randomly reward you with Delicious Cake (as a shoutout to Portal). You can either consume it for an immediate 111 stamina boost (only once per day, but with no appetite cost), or share it with the village, in which case everyone gets an extra 20 stamina the next day. You also get a Trophy for sharing cake, so players are encouraged to do it at least once.
  • Game Dev Tycoon gives you a slice of cake as an achievement if you include exploding red barrels in one successful game. The person paying you to do so is Dave Johnson, a reference to Portal's Cave Johnson.
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale): In The New Frontier, when Javier first meets Joan and Clint, two of the four leaders of New Frontier, they're arguing about who's made the most desirable food, and asks Javier to settle it; Clint's creamed spinach (valuable nutrition) or Joan's Black Forest chocolate cake (luxurious, especially considering the extremely limited access to the fresh ingredients needed in the post-apocalypse). Most players tend to choose the cake, at least the first time around. Once Joans true nature is revealed, one of the dialogue options Javier gets when he's arrested is telling Joan the cake looked like shit.

    Web Animation 

  • What reward does a Girl Genius desire for the drudgery of being a despot? Cake.

    Web Original 
  • A meme from 4chan, "delicious cake", involves a drawing of "you", "delicious cake", and some obstacle keeping you from it. Repliers are expected to draw in a solution using MS Paint. The release of Portal complicated these threads somewhat...
  • In Chell's Mind, Chell decides that GLaDOS/Hallie is lying to her immediately after being told about the title cake, but still fantasizes about Black Forest cake many times.
  • In Brazil, one meme is "Fica, vai ter bolo" ("Stay, there will be cake"), a riff on the usual quip to someone leaving a birthday party early, sometimes over tragedies or downright disturbing images.
  • The SCP Foundation treats this a little differently with SCP-871 — if you eat the cake, and eat it well enough, your reward is more cake and not-death. It is important to eat the cake, lest it overwhelm the world with its deliciousness. In addition, there is SCP-157, where the cake really is a lie. At the SCP Foundation, the cake eats you...

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Arthur, after the namesake character's father decided to make a cake for a theme party in his class, the resulting unusual-looking cake turns out to be a hit with the class, especially Mr. Ratburn. As Arthur gets his dad to keep making cakes for various events in order to make himself more popular, a Running Gag occurs as Mr. Ratburn appears at wherever cake may be present with the pretense of bringing a reading list for students. It gets to the point that he randomly appears at Arthur's house unprompted just for a chance to eat cake.
    "Oh. Are you having cake?"
  • In Chowder, the title character is promised some cake if he goes to a party. When he doesn't get any, he says "The cake was a lie!"
  • In Class of the Titans, presumably taking a nod from an actual Greek myth, one of the only ways to distract Cerberus is with cake. He loves cake. The heroes are amazed to learn this.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • Cake is the focus of a string of related episodes, including the pilot episode, wherein the KND enact various absurd plots to secure the Delightful Children from Down the Lane's lavish birthday cake — which the Delightfuls not only refuse to share with any other children, but cruelly torture them by forcing everyone to watch them eat it. Ironically, the main characters never actually managed to get the cake, in most of the episodes it ends up being ruined in the process, and in one of the last episodes, the villains outright get away with it. The Grand Finale revolves around the cake being stolen by a third faction, and put up for grabs in a scavenger hunt. It's actually just a cover to test Numbuh One in preparation for his acceptance into the Galactic Kids Next Door
    • In another episode, the Delightfuls became Fourth Grade presidents by promising Woodrow Wilson, the kid in charge of counting the votes, a slice of their cake. However, the episode wasn't about the cake, which was only mentioned when Wilson confessed his wrongdoing to Numbuh One (the Delightfuls immediately had him thrown in detention upon winning).
  • Craig of the Creek: This turns out to be the central theme in the episode "The Invitation." During it, Craig and friends are invited to a fancy tea party by three children. They are promised cake provided that everyone is on their best behavior and exhibits excellent table manners. It turns out that those hosting the party are just Faux Affably Evil jerks who purposely invite children they know don't get along so they can watch them fight and ask them to leave. Craig catches on quickly and decides to tough it out but as might be expected The Cake Is a Lie. It was nothing but a decorative centerpiece.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • There's a popular restaurant called Cake 'N' Bacon.
    • In the episode where Timmy Turner decided to run for President of the Student Council, Co-Presidents Tad and Chad offered a huge cake to sway the voters into their side. It backfired on them as everyone who ate of the cake became too sick to attend school during voting day. The only people at school that day were Timmy and Principal Waxelplax, the latter of whom said she was only there because she's frosting intolerant.
    • In "Mind Over Magic", Mr. Crocker tricks his students into being pawns in his plot against Timmy by saying he's holding a party with lots of candy and sweets. They were not happy when they found out the ruse.
    Chester: HEY! You said there'd be candy!
    A.J.: And brain food!
    Elmer: And something to stop my boil from controlling my thoughts!
    Elmer's boil: Silence, you fool!
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: As part of King Julien's Day's festivities, there's a baking contest to make the official cake for the party. As Julien himself says, even if they can have the party without the cake, it wouldn't feel right.
  • Regular Show: The episode "Free Cake" is all about Mordecai and Rigby trying to get chocolate cake. They finally convince Benson to throw a birthday party for Skips, but in trying to get Skips they inadvertently interrupt a ritual that Skips needs to perform to live forever. When The Powers That Be threaten to drain away Skips' lifeforce, Mordecai is forced to give them the chocolate cake in exchange for letting Skips live. In the end, they get cake, only it's vanilla.
  • In Rugrats, there's a episode where Didi's younger brother, Ben, is getting married, the Finster family and both Pickles families are attending the wedding (Angelica's even acting as the flower girl). Tommy and Chuckie assume that a wedding is just a big party with a giant cake, and they spend most of the episode wandering around looking for said cake.
  • In The Simpsons, Lisa convinces Homer to go talk to Marge by telling him she's made a cake. It's actually just to lure Homer in to talk about his massive weight gain (the episode revolves around Homer becoming even more overweight to scam Mr Burns out of disability). Afterwards, he still has to be told there is no cake.
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: The kids tell people (at Cartman's insistance) that people who join La Résistance receive pie and punch.note 

    Real Life 
  • There is a popular cake design that features the Grim Reaper and the caption "Relax... I'm just here for the cake."
  • One message that can be found in fortune cookies is "A nice cake is waiting for you."
  • Pretty much the reason weddings and birthdays traditionally have cakes, even when the guest(s) of honor don't care for them.
  • During the 2011 Occupy Boston protests, this guy quotes this trope word-for-word with an out-of-place, yet hilarious sign.

Mr. Ratburn: I was just dropping by to make a few edits and— Oh, are you having cake?

Alternative Title(s): Victory Cake