Interview With Zack Ginies, Font Nerd/ Baker of Helvetica-Lettered "Fuck This Cake" or Helveticake ... It's What Happens When Design Geeks Spend Too Much Time in the Kitchen
TraderZed The "Fuck This Cake" Team: From left, Oscar Rivero, Zack Ginies and Loly Diaz.
If you're someone who routinely Googles "dessert" and "fonts" and "Helvetica," you may have seen photos of a "Fuck This Cake" cake floating around on the Internet. It turns out there were many cooks in the kitchen during the creation of this typographic nerd-masterpiece. The cake was made by 26-year-old Toronto graphic designer Zack Ginies and his friends (also graphic designers) Oscar Rivero and Loly Diaz. The slices are shaped like letters. And the letters are in the typeface Helvetica, which even had its own movie recently.
Surprisingly, there is actually more than one Helveticake hanging around. The original can be found on this YouTube clip.
Zack's cake however, as Laure at the blog At Home At Home noted, is the perfect blend of sweetness, font and profanity.
Read on for the interview:
What flavor was the cake & icing? And was it from scratch, or a mix?
Originally I had opted to make the cake from scratch. Then, realizing that we had limited time, we looked to Betty Crocker to help us out. The cake was vanilla, but we added some Strawberry Frutee (not sure if they have it in the US, it's basically bottled fountain juice) to give it a strawberry flavor. The top layer of icing was a marshmallow fondant.
Wait. Back up. Please explain the genesis of the cake. Why and for whom did you make it?
We made Fuck This Cake for my boyfriend, John Thai. This was actually the last cake in a series of birthday cakes we started making for our friends. The first was a Boo Mario cake. Then an Owl cake for myself. It was the night before John's birthday and none of us had any idea what to do. It was already around 9 p.m. when Oscar saw the original Helveticake and we decided to put our own spin on it.
Was it as tasty as it was good looking? That is always the essential battle -- form versus function.
To be honest, we never ate the cake (we still have the 'A' floating around somewhere, preserved with shellack). We knew John wouldn't be able to destroy the cake so we make a back-up cake which didn't look nearly as good.
Why Helvetica? Why not Garamond, or Times Roman, or Univers?
The font choice was easy. John's favorite type is Helvetica.
How were you able to cut the letters so perfectly? Did you bake them already shaped like the letters, or did you cut them out of a big sheet of cake? Did you trace the letters or free-hand slice them? Was Photoshop involved? (I guess that's more than one question.)
Basically, we printed each letter out on a sheet of paper and cut out templates. We then baked sheet cakes and cut the letters out from there. After that, we had to cut out the same letter from the icing and then carefully place it on top of the cake letter. We ended up going through about 8 or 9 sheet cakes altogether. The perfection of the letters was key for fear we'd end up with Arial Rounded.
Of all the messages you could have spelled out, why "Fuck this cake"? Were you guys saying "Fuck this cake" as in "I hate this cake, I can't stand it" OR "I want to make sweet, sweet love to this cake"?
The biggest problem we had was trying to figure out what to make the cake say. After throwing a ton of ideas around, we kept saying "Fuck this cake" knowing that we were totally screwed with only a few hours to make it. Eventually, it just seemed like the obvious choice.
Did you make any more font-related desserts?
I really like the detail of the period at the end of the cake/sentence. I didn't know the periods in Helvetica were square. Are they? Or was that a bit of creative license?
It is, in fact, slightly rectangular and was probably the hardest part of the cake to get right. We knew we couldn't really have too much creative freedom with this one, John Thai is a designer and would be able to spot the slightest inconsistency.
Go here for more photos of Fuck This Cake