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100 Years of Smooth Sailing for Sanders Bumpy Cake

by Lisa Diggs

I'm not sure I can even remember the last time my family celebrated any kind of holiday that a Sanders Bumpy Cake™ wasn't invited to the party. I suspect I am not alone on that front, which comes as no surprise since the decadent treat has been around for one hundred years! 

That’s right, Sanders Bumpy Cake celebrates a milestone birthday of its own this month, so we thought it would be fun to take a look back, and share some memories, and possibly even a few surprises.

It all started in 1913 when Sanders opened its bakery division and started making unique style cakes with their signature buttercream icing. One cake in particular was the result of a collaboration between bakers and the confectionary division. It was a chocolate layer cake with buttercream piping on top, which was then coated in a rich fudge topping.

Sanders may have been calling it a “Devil’s Food Buttercream Cake,” but families all around Detroit simply knew it as “bumpy cake.”  Eventually the name officially changed because so many customers came into stores asking for the “cake with the bumps.”

Today, Sanders Bumpy Cake comes in 3 sizes; the original round Layer Cake, the 8X8 Tea Cake and the single layer Party Cake.

A visit to the Sanders website reveals comments from delighted customers all over the country. One faraway fan shared, “Just wanted you to know how pleasantly surprised we were last month when we went to the local Safeway store here in Fairbanks Alaska (of all places) and found Sanders chocolate bumpy cakes! Needless to say we stocked up. It really is a small world.”

It seems that for many, the taste evokes sweet memories of another time and place, which may even be more enjoyable than the chocolaty goodness itself.  Another fan non the site noted, “I grew up outside of Detroit and went to Sanders often with my mom as a little girl. I left Michigan a long time ago and was pleasantly surprised to find Sanders Chocolate Fudge Bumpy Cake at my local grocery store last week. I bought the last two and have enjoyed a piece every day. It's exactly as I remembered. I'm taking one to work and suspect that there will be several more fans out here in California. Thank you for shipping out west!”

California transplant, and Dearborn native, Suzanne Sena expressed a similar sentiment with a celebration of her own on the horizon. The TV personality told me, “This Michigan girl, when asked what kind of cake she wanted, skipped the LA favorites, and asked for Bumpy Cake. It’s my fave, and it reminds me of celebrating birthdays with my mom when I was a kid.

Most of us think of the fudge topping when we imagine this sweet treat, but it’s the buttercream that puts the “bump” in Bumpy Cake. In fact, did you know that there are three other flavors?

The pink version features Devil's Food Cake, with rich butter cream bumps, and a decadent Raspberry frosting. The caramel-frosted version, tops a spice cake. Finally, there is a vanilla version, also known as the Colonial, which is a yellow cake with the rich buttercream frosting.

Yesterday, Bumpy Cake helped my family celebrate a 35th wedding anniversary, and I’m sure it will be with us creating many more precious memories in the months and years to come.

Happy birthday, Bumpy Cake, and thanks for helping so many of us celebrate so many of ours.  


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