Sheila Sybrant

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse …

Casualties of the pandemic keep piling up. Most tragically, there are the many hundreds of thousands of deaths. Job losses have mounted. Economic repercussions are multiplying. Social distancing has exacted a high emotional toll.

And now we have to mourn the half-sheet cake from Costco.

Costco has ceased to sell its half-sheet cakes —which apparently serve close to 50 people — that many people purchased for large events such as birthday celebrations, graduations and weddings.

According to a Facebook post by the company, the decision is related to the pandemic and social distancing issues (although I’m a little unclear about whether the social distancing is for the customers, the workers or both).

Based on the internet response, this is a tragedy of mythic proportions. Type in “Costco stop selling sheet cakes,” and you will get close to 17 million results.

I am probably not the best person to sympathize with this “catastrophe.” For one thing, I don’t shop at Costco — not because I have anything against the store but because I live so far away that I wouldn’t get much good out of a membership.

For another thing, cake is not my favorite dessert. Not that I don’t love cake. I do. It’s just not my favorite. I have had half-sheet cakes from other stores, and they are certainly good but not the stuff of legends. Of course, maybe if I’d ever tried a Costco half-sheet cake, I would feel differently. Who knows?

Some people might judge those who even want to buy a half-sheet cake, arguing that with social distancing, a person has no need of a cake that can feed a mass number of people. I’m not going to get into pandemic shaming. After all, a family might be legitimately practicing social distancing but be large enough to eat a half-sheet cake by itself. Heck, I could probably go through a large amount of a half-sheet cake by myself in a few days. (Yes, I know I said that it’s not my favorite, but that wouldn’t stop me from eating it.)

One thing I can definitely sympathize with is the loss of a beloved product. Like everyone else, I’ve seen a lot of my favorites die under the knives of cruel company CEOs who make seemingly arbitrary decisions. Doesn’t everyone love the same products that I love?

And although it seems as though there are lots of other things to focus on in these trying times, maybe the people who are devastated by this latest food-loss indignity are onto something: Maybe cake is just the thing to lift one’s spirits. After all, cake is a staple of a civilized society. It’s a centerpiece of many social get-togethers, so maybe salvaging cake is a way to maintain a sense of our world as we have known it.

It doesn’t sound as though Costco has any plans to cave to its customers’ entreaties to bring back the half-sheet cake, though. Other stores that sell half-sheet cakes will probably benefit from increased sales, but some people will want only Costco cakes, so my prediction is twofold.

First prediction: Cake baking will be the next wave of kitchen experimentation. The coronavirus has spawned a cooking and baking movement, with many people trying their hand at baking bread and making homemade meals. A lot of these people have now become fairly good chefs who might be ready to tackle a half-sheet cake.

Second prediction: Cake pans and powdered sugar will suddenly become virtually extinct, much like toilet paper and bleach. Better stock up!

Readers may contact Sheila at svsybrant@gmail.com or 45092 859th Road, Bassett, NE 68714.

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