Food by VICE

'Hurricane Cakes' Sold by Florida Grocery Store Lead to Mixed Responses

Publix is trying to lift Floridians' spirits with cakes and hurricane puns—but some feel Irma is too serious to kid about in pastry form.

by Nick Rose
Sep 11 2017, 6:09pm

Photo via Instagram user @kellyyhigginbotham.

In times of crisis, carbs can restore our faith in humanity—and even save lives.

Just ask the brave bakers stuck inside two separate El Bolillo locations in Houston during Hurricane Harvey, who used up 4,400 pounds of flour to make bread and pan dulce to share with their imperiled community. Not all heroes wear capes; some bake.

During a natural disaster, the cakes and breads we so often take for granted can become survival food, but equally as importantly, they can raise morale. However, one grocery store chain's attempt to make light of the frantic lead-up to Hurricane Irma's landfall has provoked mixed reactions.

This weekend, Publix locations in Florida offered cakes with frosting inscriptions reading "Go away Irma," "Weather it out," "Bring it on," "Bite me, Irma :)" and even "Irma gerd!!," as well as multicolored depictions of the storm, which tore through the Caribbean late last week and was Category 5 status as of Friday but has since been downgraded. A variety of versions of the defiant confections popped up on social media, all appearing to trace back to the store's locations across the Sunshine State.

READ MORE: These Houston Bakers Are Too Busy Making Bread to Talk About Being Heroes

The cakes, which some found cheeky and others perceived as a cash grab during a natural disaster, generated polarized reactions online ranging from appreciative to offended.

"Making them in increments of 12 as they sold out each time," Publix cake decorator Kelly Higginbotham wrote on Instagram. "That meme I was featured in brought us a bunch of business." The meme that Higginbotham is referring to is, in all likelihood, one in which Publix responds to a stern Governor with the casual response that "we made cakes."

On Twitter, some complained that the cakes were inappropriately playful relative to the seriousness of the storm, which has forced millions to evacuate, killed at least 20 people in the Caribbean, and caused an unfathomable amount of damage to public and private property. Publix has apologized to some individual customers, who referred to the cakes as "disgraceful," via social media. MUNCHIES reached out to Publix for further comment on the cakes but has not yet received a response.

Despite outrage from some, a quick peek at #hurricanecake and #publixcakes hashtags on Instagram shows overwhelmingly positive posts and comments from Floridians appreciative of Publix's efforts to make them eat and laugh, which some seeing the cakes as the epitome of #ClassicFlorida.

After all, resilience and having a dark sense of humor are practically pre-requisites for living in Florida. For continued coverage of Hurricane Irma, follow VICE News.

Natural Disaster
hurricane irma