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For Brookings couple, cake takes on life of its own

This cake has been featured on television, the Internet and People magazine.
It’s been more than two years since Suzanne Williams and her husband Curtis left Little Rock, Ark., for a new home in Brookings.

After 18 years at the same office, there was a going-away party for Suzanne at the Shelter Insurance Co. in Little Rock.

It was an emotional day, recalls Suzanne, because she was up all night finishing work at home to bring back to the office, then walked into a surprise party.

And the cake caused a laugh with its obvious mistakes. The decorator at the  Sams Club bakery took the phone order from Branch Manager Shawn Knauts too literally. The icing on the cake read:

Best Wishes Suzanne

Under Neat that

We will Miss you

“We decided to keep it as is because it will be good for a laugh at your party,” Knauts told Suzanne in an e-mail this week.

“At the party everyone had a good laugh and we thought that was the end of it,” says Curtis.

The couple moved to Brookings. Suzanne joined CAL-OR Insurance Specialists, and Curtis took over at the Brookings branch of Sterling Savings Bank.

But someone must have taken a photo of the cake, and in the age of the Internet, things can take on new lives.

A few months later, an e-mail from a friend in Memphis, Tenn., was the first clue. “Not knowing it was Suzanne’s cake, our friend commented on what a coincidence it was that an insurance adjuster named Suzanne would have a going-away party at the same approximate time.

Suzanne says she has no idea how the photo and story got on the Internet.

“We all had a good laugh at the odd series of events, and we thought that was the end of it,” says Curtis.

In 2008, Suzanne’s former co-workers call to tell her that the cake had been featured on a blooper segment of the Jay Leno Show.

“Well, we all had a good laugh and thought that was the end of it,” Curtis says. Of course, he told the story of the cake to his staff at Sterling Savings.

“A month or so ago,” says Curtis, “I get a call from one of my tellers who’s on vacation telling me ‘There’s a cake in People magazine that looks just like Suzanne’s.’ ”

The Williams rushed out to buy several copies of the magazine, had a good laugh, “and thought that was the end of it.”

Last week, CAL-OR owner Debbie Krambeal called back to the office. She had just seen the cake on the “Today Show,” featured as the cover shot of a new book called “Cake Wrecks.”

The book features a collection by Jen Yates of Orlando, Florida. It has been created from her online blog by the same name, first inspired by Suzanne’s cake, which led to the place on the cover.

“Jen actually received the picture of the Under Neat That cake in her e-mail in May of ’08 and decided to start a little blog,” writes her husband John Yates in an e-mail to Curtis.

(The Yates’ blog can be found online at http://

cakewrecks.blogspot.com.)

“Soon people started noticing, which was a bit strange at first,” he continues. “Then, almost overnight, it blew up into the incredible time sucker that it is today. Then Jen got a little book offer.”

The book was even written up in the New York Times last October, described as “celebrating the folly of professional confections gone horribly, horribly wrong.”

Back in Brookings, Curtis and Suzanne continue to “have a good laugh” as her infamous cake keeps cropping up.

“It’s amazing how it keeps coming back,” says Suzanne. “Who knew that was going to happen.”

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