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We'll pass on the cake

January 25, 2006

SAVEUR threw down the gauntlet. In its "Saveur 100," an annual listing in the January-February issue of the magazine's "favorite restaurants, food, drink, people, places, and things" from around the world, we were startled by No. 25: "Costco Birthday Cake." A $14.99 sheet cake large enough to serve as many people as its number on Saveur's honor roll? This is a "cake worth joining for," the item assured us. Of course, we had to try it.

Feeling sorry we hadn't invited a football league to join us, we bought and tasted three huge cakes, including the filled white cake with buttercream icing that drew the rave.

We assembled in the Test Kitchen. Slices were cut. A hush went over the room. We picked up our forks and began.

"My teeth hurt," said one taster after swallowing. "My soul hurts," said another. It was heavy and terribly sweet and coated the palate. We wondered whether it would even pass muster with 6-year-olds.

"I don't feel so well," said a third taster.

We looked at the list of ingredients on each of the three cakes. It was long and, frankly, scary.

We asked Times Health Editor Tami Dennis to weigh in. "I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this is not healthy," she said. "Tastes like sweetened Crisco to me."

It did to us too. With a long disodium phosphate finish.

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