The Publix grocery store chain offers two customizable cakes for graduates, including a sheet cake that is decorated with a small cap, tiny diploma and a tasteful assortment of piped icing flowers. Its website allows its customers to type a special message to be written on each dessert—but it automatically flags any profanity, like the most common expletives, slang terms for various body parts… and, apparently, the Latin phrase that means “with highest honors.”
Cara Koscinski discovered Publix’ unwillingness to write “Summa Cum Laude” when she placed an order for her son’s high school graduation party. When the South Carolina mom typed those words into the online form, it flagged them as being “profane [or] special characters.” She included a link to a website that explained what the phrase meant, clicked the “Submit Order” button and assumed that the staff would understand and the cake would be iced correctly.
The fact that we’re writing about this kid’s grocery store graduation cake should tell you that she was way, way wrong.
“[Our son Jacob] did not know we were getting a cake because he's not a big cake eater,” Koscinski told WCIV. “So we were all standing there waiting to see it and when we opened it, it was a huge shock to all of us.”
Instead of Summa Cum Laude, the prude who manned the Publix bakery that day wrote “ Summa --- Laude,” replacing that middle word with dashes because he or she assumed that the Latin word meaning “with, or together with” was the same thing as the English word for “potentially underwhelming sex explosion.”
Those three dashes meant that Jacob—a kid who’d just completed a Christian homeschooling program—had to tell his guests the difference between those two homophones. “The cake experience was kind of frustrating and humiliating because I had to explain to my friends and family, like, what that meant," he said. “And they were giggling uncontrollably. At least, my friends were.”
The Koscinskis contacted Publix in a phone call that we wish they’d recorded, and a manager offered them a refund for the cum-free cake. “It's fine for us to be compensated for the cake,” Cara said. “We're just happy that our son graduated school and has a bright future.” (And yes, they ate the cake, anyway.)
“Satisfying our customers is our top priority,” Kimberly Reynolds, a Publix spokesperson told MUNCHIES. “You can feel confident that this situation has been addressed, and the appropriate business areas and leaders are involved.”
The chain does seem to have corrected the oversensitive censoring on its cake customization form; we were able to successfully start orders for cakes iced with “Summa Cum Laude,” “Magna Cum Laude,” and even “Made You Cum Loud.” Just checking!
Jacob will soon be starting his freshman year at Wingate University and, the next time his family hosts a graduation party, we’re guessing that they’ll just decorate the cake themselves.