It seems as if there is no shortage of communities on Instagram to help consume more of your time. For beauty lovers, an endless supply of makeup tutorials and gleaming photos of skin care products can keep you entertained for hours. For car lovers, accounts dedicated to the good, the bad, and the ugly are available to fill that void, too. There’s even a whole community of cake decorators on the platform that make the trade look too easy. But at the very least, someone else’s hobby can easily become your guilty pleasure. For those that don’t have time to binge The Great British Baking Show or take up a new hobby—there’s thousands of videos on Instagram of time-lapsed videos of cakes getting iced and decorated. And they’re oddly very soothing. I personally have no business shopping for professional cakes on the internet—but I would be lying if I said I did not spend 20 minutes yesterday watching cakes get frosted as if I were in a trance. One time the obsession got so bad I even bought a cake decorating kit and tried it myself. But the reality is that these bakers make it look much easier than it is, and my cake ended up looking like a blob of grey slime.
But there is money in time lapsed videos of cakes being frosted, just as there is money in Youtube’s massive beauty community, but in different ways. Many cake decorators use the platform to promote their own businesses in the real world. Bakeries could advertise by simply uploading cute pictures of their food, but the oddly soothing aspect of cake decorating videos is what makes them instantly hypnotizing. It’s like ASMR for the eyes in the same way that slime videos were one of the internet’s biggest guilty pleasures of the 2010’s. Where ASMR influencers are able to monetize by taking their talents to YouTube, the short and sweet nature of cake decorating videos seems best suited for Instagram or Tik Tok, where users can consume dozens of videos before realizing they’ve done so. Cake decorating videos are sort of like eating one potato chip–good luck sticking to just one.
Instagram Is A Bakeries’ Best Marketing Tool
Some of the most popular cake decorators on Instagram are also some of the more successful bakers in the real world. Magnolia Bakery, one of New York’s most famous bakeries thanks to Sex and The City, has found a way to turn these soothing cake decorating time lapses into a lucrative marketing opportunity. This video, for example, shows a massive blob of buttercream frosting getting smoothed over a vanilla cake in the bakeries’ kitchen. There is nothing particularly pretty about the unfinished cake, but the video has garnered over 200,000 views in just a couple of weeks nonetheless. Chelsey White, a cake decorator and self proclaimed content creator based out of New York, has used the world’s collective obsession with cake decorating videos to amass a following of nearly one million users on Instagram alone. A number like that is easily enough followers to turn cake decorating videos into a full-time business, if not lead to thousands of hungry brides and suburban moms just begging to have an Instagram star create a treat for their wedding or kid’s birthday party.
Other bakers, like New York’s Amirah Kassem, used video to promote her cakes in a different way. Kassem’s now famous bakery The Flour Shop earned much of its notoriety through Instagram (it’s brick and mortar shop is just a few steps up the street from the original Glossier flagship in Soho, which is funny considering both businesses have a similar cult following because of the social media platform). Kassem rose to fame on the platform with her famous rainbow explosion cake—a cake that explodes homemade rainbow and glitter sprinkles when you cut a piece out of it. The vibrant colors and sparkly sprinkles in the cake gave it the perfect amount of eye-catching dazzle on Instagram. The success on the platform helped leverage the business (that’s not to say Kassem would not have succeeded otherwise) into a cake empire that now caters to brands and celebrities like Versace, Kim Kardashian’s daughter North West, and even Blue Ivy Carter. The cake decorator (if that’s what you could call her colorful creations) has quickly become the fashion industry’s favorite.
With over six million posts fighting for a chance to be seen in the #cakedecorating hashtag on Instagram, bakers are resorting to extreme measures to get their creations noticed on the platform. Frosting with a shag carpet texture, elaborate creations made from fondant, and massive globs of pastel colored buttercream frosting being carefully piped into roses show that Instagram’s sweetest hashtag is, in fact, one of its most cutthroat. Bakers are fighting to be seen on the platform, resorting to unconventional frosting and decorating methods in order to do so.