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Free Cake For All! Susquehanna Celebrates Sesquicentennial with Party, 300 Pound Cake

Sept. 23, 2008

SELINSGROVE, Pa. -- What do you get when you mix and bake 6,000 eggs, 300 pounds of flour, 200 pounds of sugar, 100 pounds of butter, 80 gallons of milk and 32.5 cups of vanilla? You get a 300-pound birthday cake to serve 1,500 guests “give or take a few.”

On Saturday, Sept. 27, this gigantic cake will be the centerpiece of a birthday party celebrating the sesquicentennial of Susquehanna University. The party will take place at 10:30 a.m. as part of the Market Street Festival, the Borough of Selinsgrove's annual fall festival. The cake, made in the likeness of the university's sesquicentennial logo, is a gift to Susquehanna from ARAMARK, the university's food service. When completed, the white cake will be 4 feet wide and 7 feet long.

When the university first began planning its sesquicentennial celebration, Bob Ginader, the director of ARAMARK's operations at Susquehanna, suggested the party complete with cake. The idea was the easy part, and then came the logistics.

It's safe to say that this is the largest cake that Ginader has made in his 25 years in the food service business, so he enlisted the help of Amy Hoffman, the head baker at the university. While Hoffman makes sweet treats every day for more than 90 percent of the university's 2,100 students, the idea of baking and building such a large cake has been an interesting challenge. Not the least of which is ensuring the stability of a 300-pound cake as it transported a mile from campus to the downtown commons where the cake will be cut and served to festival goers. “Right now, we're debating the proportion” of logo elements on the cake, Ginader said. “It takes a lot of visualization.” How best to shape the 150 or sculpting the intricacies of the river or the building in the logo monopolizes conversation between Ginader and Hoffman these days.

The preparation will be in full swing next Friday, Sept. 26 when Hoffman and Ginader begin assembling and sculpting the cake. But the real intrigue will be early the next day as the ARAMARK team prepares to move the cake to downtown Selinsgrove. Ginader says that Susquehanna's Office of Facilities Management is building a special wood frame to support the cake's weight on saw horses draped in cloth.

Contact: Jane Seaberg
570-372-4119

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