names and taboos

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed May 12 14:04:02 UTC 2010

The latest story making rounds is of Bobby Cox being honored on Capitol
Hill with a special order and a cake. But someone screwed up the cake.
The inscription on the cake read "Bobby Cocks".

There is a picture of the full fiasco at

It is interesting to see what kind of contortions various reports went
through to avoid spelling out the error.

Yahoo Sports Blogs
> Well, yes, were it not for the fact that Cox's last name was spelled
> wrong on the bottom of the cake that you see above. I don't need to
> tell you how they misspelled it, either, because your first and most
> lewd guess is absolutely correct.
> It appears the cake got the John Bobbitt treatment before photogs
> could document the snafu and the host politicians quickly and
> predictably passed the buck for the mistake.

Jeff Schultz's blog at AJC [this one has the full photo]:
> The team is struggling and even a cake ordered for his honor on
> Capitol Hill spelled his name incorrectly.
> I mean, REALLY incorrectly.
> ...
> But the cake, which was to read, “Thanks for 50 great years Bobby Cox”
> had an unfortunate and profane misspelling of his last name.

USAToday Daily Pitch:
> You see, the cake ordered for Cox, saying, "Thanks for 50 Great
> Years," Bobby C---- was misspelled.
> Badly misspelled.
> Blundered beyond belief.
> ...
> They managed not only to misspell his name, but the cake had a profane
> misspelling of his last name.
> ...
> "We smeared the icing,'' she said, "so you couldn't make out what it said.

 From AP:
> But the decorative writing on the dessert cake misspelled his name in
> a rather unfortunate way.

NBC-Washington did spell it out, but had a playful title:
> No Cake Love for Bobby Cox (sp?)
> ...
> But the decorative writing on the dessert cake at the event misspelled
> his name in a rather unfortunate way: "Thanks For 50 Great years Bobby
> Cocks."
> Oh boy. At least they got "Bobby" right...

WaPo's DC Sports Blog:
> When the cake wound up reading "Thanks for 50 Great Years Bobby
> Cocks," an Isakson spokeswoman of course blamed the Nats. Why don't
> you blame them for health care, too?

There was also a scanned bit attached from an unnamed newspaper. Unlike
many other reports, it did explain the error. (The text appears to be
from Roll Call, but it's behind a subscription wall. HuffPo also points
to the same text and links to Roll Call: )
> Hosts of a celebration marking Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox's
> planned retirement after a 50-year tenure in professional baseball got
> the first two steps right, but they failed on the third, serving up a
> cake misspelling the sports figure's name in a snicker-inducing way
> ("Cocks" instead of "Cox"). Oopsie!

WSB-TV also has the photo, but:
> While Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox was being honored by U.S.
> Senators on Tuesday, staffers spent time trying to smear out an
> offensive misspelling on his cake.
> Sources told Channel 2 Action News reporter Scott MacFarlane that the
> official Senate bakery handled the task of baking the cake that was
> supposed to say, “Thanks for 50 great years Bobby Cox.”
> Instead, someone misspelled Cox’s last name – making it an offensive word.
> ...
> Cox did not see the embarrassing misspelling. Staffers did try to
> smear it off, MacFarlane said, but once they realized they made it
> worse, they cut the piece out and threw it away.

The last line is a fib. Staffers /did/ smear the inscription and cut up
the bottom of the cake before Cox and other guests got to see it. But
the pictures had already been taken and they did not throw the pieces away.

Schultz and others were quite clear about this:

> And what happened to those pieces of cake that were cut out?
> “We smeared the icing so you couldn’t make out what it said,” she said.
> And then they were served.

Schultz also got the source of the error covered (also in Roll Call):

> Cox said he didn’t find out about CakeGate until somebody from the
> Braves told him Wednesday.
> “That’s funny,” Cox said. “What bakery did he get that cake? That’s
> what I want to know.”
> ...
> Nonetheless, Watson said the manager will be getting an apology from
> Restaurant Associates, the catering company used at the Capitol.
> How does something like this happen?
> According to Watson, Restaurant Associates ordered the cake from a
> bakery that they don’t normally use and gave the order over the phone.
> They never specified how to spell Cox, as if that would seem necessary.
> “I’m sure one day I’ll be able to laugh about this.”

So it was, ultimately, a phone transcription error (the initial order
was placed over email).


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