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Series / Ace of Cakes

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"We do it all—make it bigger, make it badder, make it awesome! For me, it's all about the cake!"
Duff Goldman, from the opening narration

Ace of Cakes is a Docu Soap about Charm City Cakes, a custom cake bakery in Baltimore, Maryland, run by a man named Duff Goldman. The show revolves around the wacky hijinks of Duff and the staff, the making of the cakes (each episode revolves around a select few and especially complex cakes), and the reactions of the people receiving the cakes.

The show lasted from August of 2006 to February of 2011, for a total of 115 episodes in ten seasons, as the average season lasted less than five months. During its run, it was one of Food Network's highest rated shows.

This series shows examples of:

  • The Alcoholic:
    • The entire staff can seem like this at times, but especially Ben and Katherine.
      Mary Alice: Free beer! It's like Christmas time for the boozers!
  • All Just a Dream: The end of the final episode parodies this.
  • And the Rest: The opening credits feature caricatures labelled with each person's name. However, for the first episode, after Mary Alice and Geof, they had one drawing of three people labelled "The Girls". Later episodes used the same drawing, but with separate labels ("Mary", "Katherine", and "Anna").
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Sort of: As a thank-you for the Squig cake, Duff got a custom MMORPG avatar.
  • Benevolent Boss: Duff is this to his employees—he's a genuinely Nice Guy in Real Life and does a lot for his employees, many of whom he was already friends with prior to starting his business.
  • Carrying a Cake: Dropped cakes are very rare, but have happened. What happens more often than not is that the cake will self-destruct (collapsing, fondant cracking and/or sagging, the environment damaging the decorations, and other mishaps). There was also the time that the horribly unprofessional maid staff at a hotel in which they were staying prior to a delivery cut up their sheet cakes and ate them. They were able to provide sheet cakes after a local bakery let them use their kitchen.
  • Close-Enough Timeline: Parodied in the final episode, which had a Back to the Future-theme, where screwing around with the bakery's flux capacitor caused the bakers to become office workers, bugs, and random hazmat suit (really painter's suits) wearers. Really screwing up the flux capacitor caused Geof and Duff to become workers at a cake box factory.
  • Crossover: Kate + Eight visited as a surprise for Kate; Guy Fieri came in for an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Baltimore and Duff treated him to a giant cake shaped like a giant hamburger; Geof and Duff made an anniversary cake for King of the Hill and had cameos on the show; the crew traveled to Hawaii to simultaneously work on cakes for Lost's wrap party and a US military base (both groups loved it). The cast of Avenue Q came into the bakery, puppets and all, while they were making a cake for the show.
    • Is that where the puppet-versions of the bakers in the Lost episode came from?
    • The crew of Man Caves fixed up the bakery's basement/band room for Duff; Duff also got to ring the opening bell at the NY Stock Exchange in, um, exchange for a birthday cake for the NYSE's president.
    • Duff was a challenger on Iron Chef America, and also competed on Chopped: Tournament, where he was eliminated after the first round.
    • He also appeared as a guest judge on Cupcake Wars; the reward for that episode was having their cupcakes featured at a party celebrating their 100th episode. Duff's proclaimed hatred for cupcakes after the Guinness incident was heavily Lampshaded.
    • Duff appeared on No Reservations' "Generic Holiday Episode." In a sea of delicious beef dishes, he made a cake shaped like a turkey and surrounded by every holiday icon he could find.
    • In Jan. 2013, Duff appeared on a Smosh vid to present the guys a cake to celebrate 2 billion views - which they promptly blew up together.
    • Duff appeared as a contestant on Season 7 of The Masked Singer.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Just about everyone, but especially Geof.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Duff despises cupcakes despite (or maybe because of) trying to make the world's largest cupcake and failing. He stated that one of the reasons he hates them is because "people who make cupcakes think they can bake."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Combined with the above, Duff forced himself to make 52 cupcakes for the New York Rangers hockey team so he could "earn" being involved with his favorite sport.
  • Everyone Is Christian at Christmas: Duff's Jewish, and in a Christmas Episode, he found it very amusing that he was the one who got everyone into the holiday spirit (with fireworks, of course).
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Mostly cakes in the early episodes.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: Quite a few times, especially around Halloween. They once made an exception to their "no portraits" rule when the client added "—and his brains are being eaten by zombies."
  • Evolving Credits: Since Charm City Cakes' staff increased over the series' run, and a lot more of them appeared on camera, the later seasons' credits noticeably changed to reflect this.
  • Fandom: The bakery once received a picture of two girls dressed as Duff and Mary Alice, complete with whisk tattoo and colored hair, respectively.
  • Fandom Rivalry: In-Universe, Mary the decorator is a major, possibly lone New York Yankees fan among many Boston Red Sox fans, the most vehement of which is Mary Alice the secretary.
    Mary, upon spotting a Red Sox flag that would decorate a New Yankee Stadium cake: "What is that awful, ugly flag doing there? (replaces it with a Yankees flag) There, that's better!"
    Mary Alice, through clenched teeth: I don't think she realizes how many Red Sox fans there are here. Including me.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Played with in Duff's case—he's still a rebel, just in a more focused and mostly law-abiding way.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Duff and Geof.
  • Incendiary Exponent: Unless client specifically states that they don't want fireworksnote , Duff never misses a chance to shoot off fireworks and given even kist half a chance, he will find a way to put fireworks into (or at least onto) a cake.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Several members of the staff (including Duff) have pet cats. Elena even has a "Mt. Cutemore" photoshop of her cats.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Despite having a successful television show, Duff and co. geek out quite shamelessly when meeting other famous faces.
  • Knuckle Tattoos: The "BAKE" "CAKE" ads.It's actually a hand model; Duff's knuckles were way too hairy.
  • The Lancer: Geof is this to Duff
    • Duff's the owner/head of the business and, as a result, he oversees everything done at Charm City Cakes—but he doesn't really do a lot of hands-on stuff unless it's absolutely necessary.
    • Geof, on the other hand, comes off as a bit more aloof compared to Duff and does lot of the really difficult, hands-on stuff at Charm City Cakes.
  • More Dakka: The police of Muleshoe, TX welcomed the bakers by letting them shoot some automatic weapons and let Duff use a sniper rifle on some despised cupcakes.
  • Muppet Cameo: One which combined Ace Of Cakes, Avenue Q, and Lost.
  • Mysterious Benefactor: The unnamed VIP client who asked for the dressage cake. When Charm City Cakes explained that they don't ship cakes outside of their designed driving distance and jokingly added that the client would need a private jet, said client provided one just for the cake (albeit a small private jet).
    • Even by the end of the episode, no one but Mary Alice knew who the customer was—pretty much the only stuff that Duff and the rest of the staff (and, by extension, the viewers) could gather about the client was that, aside from the person receiving the cake being into horseback ridingnote , the client must be fairly wealthy (especially since, aside from equestrianism generally being very expensive, the client owned a private jet).
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted.
    • There's at least two Marys who work at Charm City Cakes (although one of them also goes by her middle name).
    • Geof's real name is "Geoffrey" and Duff's real name is also "Jeffrey" (note the different spellings), but most people wouldn't know in the latter's case—he's had the nickname "Duff" for pretty much his entire lifenote  and even his family calls him "Duff" on the show.
  • Parody: The 100th episode included several parodies of other TV-series, like The Hills, The Real World, Undercover Boss and The A-Team.
  • Perma-Stubble: Duff's typical appearance aside from his goatee.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: The entire staff could qualify, but the two "pairs" that especially give off this vibe are Duff and Mary Alice, and Ben and Katherine.
  • Product Displacement:
    • A cake featuring a barrel of Jack Daniel's whiskey and a guy pouring himself a glass had the writing on the barrel blurred out, and the bottle was never filmed in close-up despite the (presumably) elaborate piping that went into it (they could say Jack Daniel's as much as they wanted, but in the titles it was referred to as the "Whiskey Cake" or the "Beard House Cake"). Ironically the cake was a major honor for Duff, as the society who ordered it is described as "the foodies of foodies" and only order food from either established chefs or exceptional up-and-comers.
    • Both Ace and Cake Boss are forbidden from saying Rice Crispy Treats (they use "cereal treats" insteadnote ), even though it's a well-used "construction material."
  • Product Placement:
    • They've gotten commissions from Macy's, Ocean Spray, Warner Bros. (for two Harry Potter movie premieres), Dreamworks Animation (for Kung Fu Panda), Lost, and Cirque du Soleil, among many.
    • They made a huge squig cake (they claimed it was the largest cake they'd ever made - it even had an Ork inside its mouth!) that earned them a Golden Daemon award in the Large Model category. The best part was that the bakers had never heard of Warhammer before.
    • Ace of Cakes as it turns out is pretty good Product Placement for itself; needless to say the waiting list for Charm City Cakes has gotten quite a bit longer since the premiere of the show.
    • Someone noticed they make especially good Star Wars cakes.
  • Sassy Secretary: Mary Alice, who's the general manager at Charm City Cakes—similar to Geof, Mary Alice serves as Duff's second-in-command and handles most of the businessy-aspects of Charm City Cakes (such as organizing appointments with clients). Mary Alice has also claimed to be one of the few people to have the ability "to get Duff to do what he's supposed to do."
  • Serial Escalation: Regularly.
    • This whole show came into existence because Duff, a somewhat regular competitor of Food Network Challenges, kept amazing audiences, judges and network execs alike with his incredible cakes. This came full circle when Duff and the Charm City Cakes staff themselves were judges of a Food Network Challenges episode, where the theme was, appropriately enough, "Extreme Cakes."
  • Shown Their Work: In addition to the process of actually making the cakes, for big or unusual commissions, they'll do "research" for it. Examples:
    • For the Ocean Spray cake, the crew went to a real cranberry bog and even got to help harvest cranberries.
    • When they're asked to make stadium cakes, they'll visit the actual stadiums; Yankees fangirl Mary nearly had a Heroic BSoD upon entering New Yankees Stadium ("I want this carpet!").
    • The state of Alaska asked for a special cake to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their statehood, and Duff got to go to Alaska.
    • When Duff was asked to do a cake based on a tank, he got to go to an Army base and drive an actual tank. At this point, Duff and Geof admitted that their "research" is really just an excuse to go off and do cool stuff.
    • In one episode, they made a Dalek cake. They even made sure to get the voice exactly right.
    • The R2D2 cake, in addition to being life-size with a turning head, also had to look specifically like the Star Wars: Clone Wars version of R2D2. This meant that not only did it have to look a little busted-up but also match the "painterly" style of the show, which went against the shop's no-visible-brushstrokes ideal. They were able to do everything aside from getting R2's head to turn—it was beyond Duff's engineering skills but fortunately a handyman at Skywalker Ranch was able to rig up a little something and save the day.
  • Square-Cube Law: Invoked in the giant cupcake episode—Duff's original plan was to just make a really big cupcake, but after crunching the numbers, he and the rest of the staff realized that there was no way it'd be able to support its own weight.
  • Squick: Invoked—Adam (one of the primary chefs at Charm City Cakes) practices veganismnote  and was a little grossed out upon having to handle hotdogs while helping his boss make cheesy blasters.
  • The Stoner: Geof appears to be stoned a lot of the time when doing his talking-head shots.
  • Take That!: To their TLC counterparts: "You need to be the ''boss'' of the cake". "You (the puppet bakers) aren't working out, I'm bumping you to the minor leagues"—stuffed in a box with a "Jersey Or Bust" sign (if they really went there, they'd be returned covered in flour and dipped in icing).
  • True Companions: The staff of Charm City Cakes—as mentioned above, Duff was friends with quite a few of his staff prior to starting his business, and even though Duff's technically their boss, he seems to see his staff more as friends than his employees.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: A few times—the CCC-staff have been commissioned to make "proposal cakes" for some of their customers, and in at least one episode, Duff offered the client a 10% discount on a wedding cake if the guy's girlfriend said "yes" to his proposal.