The pandemic has changed our lives in so many different ways. Some of them are obvious, such as staying at home more often or perhaps some type of financial setback. Others may be more subtle, such as the way we celebrate birthdays.
For some, a social distancing party at an empty park or in a backyard is their decision. For others, it may be a meeting on zoom, and for others, it could be a party where people just drive by your house, blowing the horn and holding signs out the window. One thing that has remained consistent, however, is the cake and blowing out candles.
Then again, now that we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, blowing out candles poses a certain amount of risk. As they say, however, necessity is the mother of invention, and a dentist in Florida has come up with a way to keep the birthdays going.
NBC-affiliate 9News in Colorado reports on a dentist based in Boca Raton, William Kay, DMD. As a dentist, he specializes in prosthetics, and as an inventor, he has come up with the Top It Cake Shield. It protects the cake from germs and spit, and at the same time, protects those who eat a slice.
Kay is a grandfather of 4, so he’s no stranger to the germs and droplets that could end up on the icing of the cake. He thought about his own grandchildren blowing out birthday candles and then thought about how it was done thousands of times every day elsewhere.
It seems as if Kay isn’t the first one to be obsessed over the issue. Scientists at Clemson University’s Department of Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences also did some research. They analyzed how much blowing out candles could contaminate desserts. As a result of the research, they found that there was “1400% more bacteria” on the outer layer of the cake, compared with one that was not blown on.
The authors of the study therefore concluded: “The transfer of bacteria and other microorganisms from the respiratory tract of a person blowing out candles to food consumed by others is likely.”
If you happen to be a germaphobe, you have likely wondered about the possibility of germs ending up on the birthday dessert. A number of items have been seen over the years, but it seems as if the Top It Cake Shield is an idea whose time has come. It is made from recycled polystyrene that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The website also says that there are three different sizes, one for 1/4 sheet cake, another for a round cake up to 10 inches in diameter, and yet another for a single slice of birthday cake. The larger two are $15 each, and a slice cover is $5. They contain sides with an overlay from the top that snaps together. The cake is sealed on the inside nice and neat and then you insert the birthday candles into the top shield rather than the cake.
People have been applauding this invention, even though the CDC reports that foodborne exposure to the virus is not known to be a route of transmission. They say that the virus that leads to COVID-19 is primarily spread through close contact. Then again, a birthday cake may be more dangerous than typical food, because some people may be unknowingly sick and prone to spreading germs to others. The act of singing happy birthday is also hazardous because additional respiratory discharge is seen with singing.
If you have a socially distant birthday party celebration planned, the Top It Cake Shield may provide additional protection. Just keep in mind that it will protect the cake but it will not protect others who are nearby with any germs that are in the air. That is why it is best to maintain additional distance while the candles are being blown out.SKM: below-content placeholder