A recipe for disaster?

The Cake Wrecks website has many examples of decorators who seem to be incapable of following simple directions.

Cake that reads "CC Just Like That NO Periods"

Cake in the shape of a Hawaiian shirt that reads "Text: Best Wishes, Marty"

But I wonder whether those bakeries could have avoided the mistakes if the person writing the order had taken just a few moments to be explicit about the directions or to sketch the desired design.

Even if you include all of the steps in your directions, the structure of your sentences can derail the results.

My favorite Cincinnati chili spice mix starts with directions to put ground beef in water and bring it to a boil. The next sentence says “Mix in spice mix, tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar and onion after the meat is thoroughly cooked.” I can imagine many home cooks dumping the ingredients into the pan before they get to the end of the sentence and discover that they should have waited until the meat was cooked.

A great movie scene about failing to deliver directions well is in The Long, Long Trailer with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Desi is driving a huge RV while Lucy is reading the map. When she yells “Turn right here—” he make the immediate turn, nearly causing an accident. But they needed to turn left. Lucy tells Desi that he didn’t let her finish; what she was going to say was “Turn right here left!”

Of course, no matter how great your directions are, some people just won’t follow them. One year I carefully spelled out my daughter’s name for a bakery, but when I arrived to pick up her birthday cake I noticed that they had put an extra “e” on the end. I had to wait while the decorator scraped it off and repaired the icing.

Share your story of a directions disaster in the Comments section below.

Faced this sort of problem before? Guarantee that your communication is clear and concise.

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