My Bake Sale

1468444182-800pxI can always tell who my wife is talking to on the phone.

If it is family, she is relaxed. If it is business, she is formal and if it is a telemarketer, she is brutally abrupt.

This one was a bit of a mystery.

She was warm though formal yet a bit abrupt. When she finished, she put down the phone and stared across the kitchen at me.

“What did I do now?” I asked.

“Not the right question,” she said, “try again.”

I sighed. “What am I supposed to do now?”

“Good guess..” she said, opening the pantry door.


“You are going to bake brownies for the Saint Isadore’s bake sale,” she said as she rummaged around the lower shelves.

“Why me?”

“Because you are retired and I am not.” she said.


“So being retired means you have to do all the things you never had time to do before.”

“Like bake brownies?”

“Like bake brownies.”

“I suppose I could whip up a batch.”

My wife has this evil smile.   It is one she wears whenever I am tottering on the brink of doom. She was wearing it now.

“How many pans do I have to bake?”

The answer came out of the pantry as boxes of brownie mix and landed on the counter.   Plop, Plop, plop.  

“Three” she said.

“And…” she instructed, “you will cut each batch into squares then you will count out four squares and put them on individual paper plates.  Each plate will then go into a baggie and you will label each bag with the price and a date.”

“Sounds like a lot of work,” I said, “how about just giving them a donation?”

“You can do that – but you still have to bake the brownies.”

Oh dear merciful Lord in heaven, why, oh why do we still have bake sales?

Bake sales stem from an era when women spent most of the day cooking.  It is what they did and took pride in.  To cook a little extra was not a big deal, so bake sales made sense – but now days almost everyone works, except for the poor guys who are retired and it is beyond cruel to force them to bake brownies.

I understand the idea of giving.  I understand the importance of keeping traditions alive – but I also understand what it means to bite down on a brownie made by a resentful old man.

But I delivered and she was impressed  – for a while.

Then a few days later when she was balancing the checkbook, she asked, “What is this $30 check to Oak Grove Lutheran for? I don’t remember doing anything involving them.”

“Uh,” I told her, “it’s where I bought the brownies for our bake sale.”

“You are kidding me,” she said.

“No, I am not,” I told her, “and don’t complain – they all sold.  Some guy from First Methodist bought the whole lot.  I think they are having a bake sale this weekend.”

Author: Almost Iowa

41 thoughts on “My Bake Sale”

  1. Haha that was priceless. No doubt I will think of this story every time I’m at a bake sale. And our Church has a lot of bake sales, lol. Seriously, though, I never thought about how this started as a tradition. And we cheat (not like you, but still) with boxes and not from scratch.

    1. I would say this piece is close to my typical work. For some of the best, see My Favorites at the top of the page. I knock out two humor essays a week and for reasons only known to my muse, I never seem to get ahead of the game, so the piece I publish on Friday doesn’t exist on the Monday before. It hurts my quality and sometimes I wander back to an earlier essay and clean it up a bit.

    1. Oh, I wouldn’t worry about the Iowans. They are a sedate bunch who value freshness. It’s us unruly border Minnesotans who cause all the problems…. or so they say south of the border.

  2. Husband is working on his chess, resolutely not baking brownies for bake sales or anything else. However, when I laughed aloud at my computer he had to know why, so I told him, and he says you’ve got the right idea. Great read.

  3. Now why didn’t I think of that solution back when my kids’ activities required baked donations. Agree with the woman whose brownies were cut in four. That happened to me once. After that I just took the pan of brownies and let the sellers cut them.
    Funny ending!

    1. Our health department has launched a full scale assault on church kitchens, it won’t be long until they direct their fire onto the lowly bake sale. It’s days are numbered.

  4. Now why didn’t I think of that?

    I used to do Killer Brownies when my kids were in grade school–Killer, in part, because I cut and decorated ’em big. And then, some parent on the fundraiser committee decided to cut them in four, destroy the design, and charge the same per piece as a full size.

    A**hats! I stopped baking for them, and my kids aged out.

  5. It’s not the baking. It’s the cutting and bagging and pricing and all of that fol-de-rol. (See? Bake sales are so old-fashioned, they bring up old fashioned words.) Your tale reminds me of the post I wrote about a fruitcake’s revenge. You can imagine, I’m sure.

    1. I had to look up fol-de-rol, it is defined as “trivial or nonsensical fuss”. What a wonderful word.

      I know how this is going to play out. The complaints and resistance of people like me will eventually kill the tradition of bake-sales then people like me will write nostalgic essays about how wonderful they were. It is amazing how so many of our traditions, like pancake breakfasts, parades and even parking lot car washes require countless hours of fol-de-rol…. It is a glue binds us together.

      And so it goes.

    1. In every sense of the word, I did write a check and was done with it. The shuffling of brownies around the countryside was just busy work, or as Shoreacres writes, fol-de-rol.

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