Marlene Goetzeler was so proud of the cake her bakery created for a client that she showed it off on Facebook a few weeks ago. The California-based Freeport Bakery co-owner hoped for feedback, but she wasn’t prepared for the backlash the cake would incite — even though it was made using a Ken doll in an elaborate dress. “Call me naive,” Goetzeler said to the New York Daily News. “I was shocked … that somebody would be offended.”
The “somebody” she refers to was actually many people — so many, in fact, that she had to start deleting the more vicious comments in what was called “an LGBT debate,” and she even noticed her company’s Facebook account losing fans. “I started getting some negative comments, and a couple of days later I noticed that there was a big [jump] in unlikes, and so I was kind of surprised,” Goetzeler said in a television interview with a California Fox News channel. The post — which shows the Ken doll outfitted in a pink dress made of frosting, a sash, a tiara, and jewelry — received more than 1,000 reactions.
“We do doll cakes all the time,” Goetzeler told the TV station. She mused, “I guess I just thought this is a really cool cake and look at how great they did with the butter cream. What’s wrong with a Ken cake?” The segment establishes that the cake was a custom creation, but the paying customer was not transgender and not trying to make a political statement.
A week after the controversy erupted, Goetzeler decided to stand her ground publicly. She updated the bakery’s Facebook page with the same shot of the cake, accompanied this time with a message: “Facebook Friends, After posting this we had a ton of people unliking our Facebook page. I deleted the rude remarks, thank goodness not too many. Our customer was thrilled. Share this for us!” This time, with Goetzeler acknowledging the outrage, the reaction was markedly different. This time fans provided an outpouring of support for the controversial confection. The post has received almost 2,000 reactions — none of which show the “laughing” emoji, but the same can’t be said for the original post — and more than 300 powerful comments.
“Bravo! I’m from Montreal and liked your page in support of that fantastic and original artistic creation,” one commenter said. “Ken looks very nice and there is nothing wrong with being kind to everyone, including those who are different. Great job!” someone else said. “I applaud you for doing what your customer asked of you. Should I be in your area, and need something made, your bakery is at the top of my list!” another chimed in. One parent claimed, “This is how my six year old dresses her Ken. We don’t care. She doesn’t care maybe Ken wants to be fancy too she says.”
“Oh, I thought it was fantastic,” said Chad Graham, a guest at the birthday party where the cake was served, to the TV station. Graham and the cake’s recipient are part of a group that meets once a week for a dice game. “I thought it was a little ridiculous. It’s just cake,” Graham told the reporter in reaction to the scandal. A woman unrelated to the incident who was asked for her first reaction to the cake said in the segment, “I think it’s creative and amazing and gutsy.”
For her part, Goetzeler is starting to get the gutsy part down pat. “In the beginning I thought, ‘What’s the big deal?‘” she told the TV reporter. “But now I realize how important it is to take a stand if you believe in something.”