Business

Publix censors a smart word on a cake — because it looked dirty

Charleston, South Carolina mom Cara Koscinski posted this photo on her Facebook page of a cake she ordered from Publix for her son's graduation party on May 19, 2018. The cake was supposed to include the Latin phrase "Summa Cum Laude" to represent "with the greatest distinction." But cake makers dashed out the Latin preposition for "with" because it appeared on a list of prohibited words.
Charleston, South Carolina mom Cara Koscinski posted this photo on her Facebook page of a cake she ordered from Publix for her son's graduation party on May 19, 2018. The cake was supposed to include the Latin phrase "Summa Cum Laude" to represent "with the greatest distinction." But cake makers dashed out the Latin preposition for "with" because it appeared on a list of prohibited words. Facebook

Publix cake makers, or whoever came up with the list of naughty words that cannot appear on cakes, clearly didn't graduate from high school "with the highest distinction."

For generations, students who graduate in the top 1 to 5 percent of their class are awarded the distinction summa cum laude, Latin for "with the highest distinction."

Summa cum laude outranks magna cum laude (top 10 to 15 percent of a class) or simple cum laude (top 25 to 30 percent).

The Lakeland-based Publix, however, has a problem with one of those words — and it isn't summa or laude.

According to a Charleston, South Carolina, family's post on Facebook, Cara Koscinski ordered a Publix cake for her son, Jacob, 18, who graduated from his Christian-based home-school program with a 4.89 grade point average and attained the summa cum laude designation, The Washington Post reported.

Mom ordered his vanilla and chocolate cake online with the words, "Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude class of 2018."

She would have had an inkling that something could go awry because the online receipt was flagged with the message, "Profanity/special characters not allowed." The word "cum" was dashed out in the form's message box.

In that form there is a box where customers can write special instructions and in that space Koscinski wrote: "My son is graduating Summa Cum Laude" and noted that it was a Latin term for high academic honor and was not profane. She wrote, "the system is mistaking the word 'cum' for something inappropriate vs. Latin."

But when she sent her husband and sister to her nearby Publix to pick up the cake and grab some other essentials, that cake's message proved too blue for the censors.

When the family opened the cake at the graduation party on Saturday, the words read: "Congrats Jacob! Summa --- Laude class of 2018."

The Latin preposition for "with" was replaced by dashes.

Now, the mortified family had to explain to guests why the Latin word was omitted because in a whole other context it happens to be English slang for something altogether different.

"The cake experience was kind of frustrating and humiliating because I had to explain to my friends and family like what that meant," Jacob Koscinski told WCIV. "And they were giggling uncontrollably. At least my friends were."

Cara Koscinski said in her Facebook post that her son was "humiliated" and admonished the iconic Florida supermarket.

"Shame on you Publix for turning an innocent Latin phrase into a total embarrassment for having to explain to my son and others (including my 70 year old mother) about this joke of a cake."

According to the Washington Post, Cara Koscinski contacted her Publix on Monday and spoke to a sympathetic assistant manager who offered to remake the cake. But she declined. "You only graduate once," she told the manager.

Publix would not answer specific questions but Nicole Krauss, the grocery chain's media and community relations manager for southeast Florida sent a response to the Miami Herald that read: "Satisfying our customers is our top priority. You can feel confident that this situation has been addressed, and the appropriate business areas and leaders are involved."

Publix refunded the $70 cost of the cake and gave her a gift card.

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