The whispers had swirled around that Midwestern city by the lake for years. Someone committed a heinous crime, on that everyone seemed to agree.
But, just who ate a three-year old’s birthday cake while he obediently napped? Well that’s a matter that has been debated for some 49 years.
I even wrote about the emotionally charged case right here in the blog four years ago. At the time, the facts seemed clear — a well-intentioned mother puts her son down for a nap in a crowded house on Washtenaw Avenue back in 1967. While he sleeps, she quiets his six older siblings by feeding them cake. He wakes up and discovers that the cake, his birthday cake, was gone.
Who done it? Seems obvious to me.
And then, Netflix optioned the rights to a multi-part series and the Internet sleuths went wild.
“He wasn’t sleeping in that bedroom,” said the Real Khloe Kardashian in a heavily edited Instagram post. “That was actually my bedroom. They’re sort of sensationalizing the story, I think, to bring a younger audience in.”
Bakers around the globe petitioned the court to release the cake recipe, which inspired weirdly specific water cooler talk.
“I heard she put nuts in that cake.”
“Well, that’s just crazy. No one feeds nuts to a three-year old.”
“You’re all wrong. It was a store bought cake and I know for a fact it had pecans!”
Alec Baldwin live tweeted his disdain. “The bakers in this drama couldn’t get a clerking job any where else, w their slipshod handling of ingredients. @MakingABirthdayCake.”
“THIS DOCU SERIES SHOULD BE REQUIRED VIEWING FOR ALL AMERICANS,” tweet/shouted @Rosie.
Random people flocked to the little house on the corner of Washtenaw Street, peering in windows and marking the distance between the bedroom and kitchen. A Sheboygan housewife tried to crowdsource the funds for an alternate cake, while a grad student opined at length on the likely colors of decorative frosting available in 1967.
Pundits offered alternate theories of the case, including one in which the older brother ate the cake, disposed of any crumb evidence and then cleaned the kitchen.
“Are you kidding me? There is no way my brother washed those dishes,” countered one of the family’s six sisters, whose requested and temporarily achieved anonymity set off a whole new frenzy of digital detectives.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, a wry blogger pulls another birthday cake out of the oven and chuckles because she knows that this cake, like the controversy it represents, is full of nuts.