Great Cakes Petitions To End Cupcake War

For 22 years, Rick Dickinson has generously donated his Great Cakes creations to Westport schools. Cookies for bake sales, sheet cakes for celebrations — whatever they ask for, he gives.

At the same time, many Westport parents buy Great Cakes cupcakes for their kids’ classroom birthday parties.

Recently — and very unwittingly — Rick was drawn into a food fight on “06880.”

Great Cakes owner Rick Dickinson, with the most controversial food item in town.

It began with a post about a recent note from school district administrators, saying that cupcakes and sweets will no longer be allowed at birthday celebrations.

77 comments later, readers had weighed in on everything from the weight of Westport children, to a variety of parenting styles, to the taste-vs.-healthfulness of Great Cakes cupcakes.

Rick — the owner — is fed up. This week he set up a petition on his counter. It reads:

Great Cakes Supports Westport’s Youth

We support all efforts to promote good health among the youth of Westport, CT.

We only use the best ingredients in our products.

We advise parents to purchase our small cupcakes, or divide items into fourths for in-school celebrations.

We offer to divide our products for parents free of charge.

We strive to avoid the use of any ingredients that are generally acknowledged to cause allergic reactions among children.

We have supported all efforts in Westport to promote child safety, non-bullying, good health and proper nutrition for our children.

PLEASE Support Great Cakes In Our Petition to Rescind the Ban on Food in School Celebrations

Rick hopes Westporters will stop by Great Cakes to sign the petition.

I hope that if you do, you also help support Rick’s long-standing generosity to Westport schools (and many other causes).

Buy a great cake. A bagel. Coffee.

Maybe even (ssshhh) a cupcake.


33 responses to “Great Cakes Petitions To End Cupcake War

  1. Cheryl Buck

    I have just read the post about the “cupcake” wars. I am spending two weeks in France visiting my grandchildren and have recently had occasion to peruse my older grandchild’s yearbook. Throughout the book there are pictures of monthly birthday parties in her class where the child’s name is listed along with the name of the mother who brought the birthday cake. They even mention the flavor of the cake and how delicious it was. None of the children are fat, and they all are sharing a sense of community and comraderie with each other over a slice of cake. What is happening to us in
    Westport? I didn’t say “in the United States” because I hope Westport schools directive is an aberration.

  2. I LOVE Great Cakes, and order cupcakes (the small ones) for all kids and grown-up parties… They will even give you plain cupcakes and a bucket of frosting so the kids can decorate themselves…
    Coleytown Elementary started the no treats on birthdays 2 years ago and I am 100% in support of it – kids have WAY too many sweets…and they get too hyped up and the teachers are left to clean up and deal… Why not order the cupcakes for your family or the child’s birthday party? Why do the kids need to eat them in school? Or better yet… invite the class over after school for a cupcake and a game of tag… The schools should be keeping the health of our children the priority – Westporter’s priority should be supporting local businesses…

  3. Amy Horowitz

    Unfortunately children today are going to school with all sots of allergies. According to the Mayo Clinic website the top 8 food allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. It wouldn’t be possible to serve a delicious cupcake that avoid all of these. Having a child who should be gluten and dairy free, but who often falters and then suffers the consequences, I welcome this change. For the families of children with allergies it is a tremendous relief.

    • So because some children have food allergies, all children must suffer. How typical of Westport.

    • And another thing....

      Actually, it is possible to have tasty treats which avoid all of these allergens. There is a place called Izzy B’s in Norwalk which makes great cupcakes completely free of allergens. My kids love them.

  4. Jamie Walsh

    I support healthy eating habits…but come on…how ridiculous can we be about an occasional cupcake for a birthday party in school….somehow….I survived cupcakes, twinkies, devil dogs, flutter nutters, ect..and still managed to be a productive…reasonably healthy member of society… I love organic this and organic that…hormone free milk and meats work for me….I get that… but to deny lifes simple pleasures….and to inadvertently impact a local merchant who has done nothing but contribute good will and support in our community is just WRONG! Especially school events! Teaching your child moderation or not bowing to peer pressure and just saying thanks but… I brought my own organic gluten free agave syrup carob topped frosting cupcake to celebrate Jackson’s birthday is by far the more equitable and respectful approach in lieu of a silly ban!

    • I could not agree with you more. I was diagnosed with severe food allergies during my elementary school years/1979/before food allergies were so popular, and without indulging myself I still managed to enthusiastically participate in every single one of my peers’ cupcake parties.

      My parents and teachers would have been appalled if I had expressed that because I could not have something then nobody else could either.

  5. That’s the first time I’ve even seen carob mentioned in about 20 years. I’d wondered what ever happened to carob.

  6. So, will the Westport school theater groups have to stop selling candy and other delectables at performances? Are all machines that sell junk food and drinks being removed from the schools? Do all theses “fat” kids already eat a diet free of processed food and in proper balance? (most of the kids I see look fine, even thin). Do they all exercise enough? I agree with the post from Cheryl Buck.

  7. Westport Convert

    Stay strong, Rick.

    You have every right to do what you are doing and the schools have absolutely no constitutional rights to stop me from bringing a cupcake to my children at school. We support Great Cakes and their effort to end the ban.


    • “The foundation on which all [our State constitutions] are built
      is the natural equality of man, the denial of every pre-eminence
      but that annexed to legal office and particularly the denial of a
      pre-eminence by birth… and a right to cupcakes”
      –Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1784.

  8. Support Great Cakes !!

  9. Let them eat cake…er..cupcakes!

  10. I love cupcakes!
    Remind me again why birthday parties are a necessary part of the school day?

  11. This entire effort on the part of the BOE is blatantly hypocritical. Has food been banned from ALL school events? If not, why not?

  12. So THIS is what our society has become? Every once in awhile you hear about these people who isolate themselves from society by moving far out into the woods or the desert and people call them strange and weirdos. I want to be strange and called a weirdo…

  13. This IS NOT just a Westport issue. I live in Burbank, CA and school classroom parties have been banned for years now but it wasn’t just health issues that caused the ban. There is a growing group of people in Burbank who’s culture does not believe in birthday or holiday celebrations. (For those of you in this area you know who I’m talking about) Anyway, they have become more influential over the years and finally prevented any celebration to happen in the classroom. They can’t even celebrate Xmas, Easter or even Halloween. Nothing! The sad part is that it took a cultural issue to make the change instead of a health one.

    • There is no need for the public schools to cave in to a vocal minority. What happened to multiculturalism and tolerance? This problem conflict could be solved esaily with school vouchers instead of totalitarian solutions.

    • We are about to celebrate the birth of our nation. Should we prohibit that celebration because there are those who would object? Maybe they should think about finding another place to live.

  14. Staplescheer Excercise is the answer not cupcakes!


    You might find something relevant in the Kurt Vonnegut story linked here.

  16. SUSHI !! 🙂

  17. westport mom

    This sure is valuable publicity for Great Cakes. I will go in and buy to celebrate this weekend. That said, I stand by the BOE and think cupcakes in school are a waste of time and money. In Westport, most indulge our children with bithday parties outside of school. Isn’t that really enough already?? Great Cakes rocks, shop there, support local business but don’t encourage policy to be changed because of a business set-back and not the real issue of too much junk served to the kids 24/7.

    • Westport Convert

      The policy is the issue. If they were willing to revise it, I wouldn’t have any problems with it. Schools want to ban cupcakes from birthday celebrations but still choose to acknowledge and celebrate the child’s birthday in school?

      If you are going to start banning one major part of the celebrations, why not just ban the celebrations all together? If the school is continuing to celebrate the child’s special day, I have every right to come in with a cupcake.


      • They are not just cupcakes; the survival of all of Western civilization hangs in the balance. If you allow students to eat cupcakes, what is next; pizza? Cupcakes will lead us down the primrose path, but alcohol is nature’s most perfect food. Ask the loudmouths who want to ban cupcakes in the name of public health if they want to ban alcohol. Yeah right.

        • Loudmouths

          I totally support banning alcohol in school. Even if the kids parent thinks their birthday needs to center on consuming something.

  18. Involved Parent

    This issue is not about Great Cakes! It is about birthday celebrations in school revolving around food, which can creat a multitude of problems.

    And if, as some of you say, it is the OCCASSIONAL cupcake, then the impact perhaps is not so significant on Great Cakes – however, if is is NOT occassional, the impact may in fact be greater, but hence it supports the argument that the kids are too often being fed treats in school!

    I would argue that most parents hold birthday celebrations outside of school and feel pressure to do the same in school because the other kids do it and therefore, their child wants the same. The policy would only impact those food items being purchased for in-school parties. In fact, it is only 4 of the elementary schools since Coley El has not had food for a couple years already.

    To Gelatogirl – yes – machines that sell junk food were taken out of schools a long time ago. The policy is consistent with what the children are learning in their Health curriculum. It is not Draconian.

    To Cheryl Buck – while you say “they all are sharing a sense of community and comraderie with each other over a slice of cake. What is happening to us in Westport? I didn’t say “in the United States” because I hope Westport schools directive is an aberration”. I say, why can’t our children share a sense of comraderie with an interesting book or fun activity? In fact, Westport is not at all an abberation as this type of change is taking place all over the country, particularly in communities which highly value education like we do.

    To those who say that the school system (our Principals in this case, not just a vocal minority) does not have the right to control what foods are served to young children during their school day, I say that as much as I love Great Cakes, and patronize them whenever I buy baked goods, they are the ones that have no right to dictate school food policy.

    No one is saying that baked goods are bad or that Great Cakes should suffer, or that parents can not put whatever they want into their child’s lunchbox, so let’s keep the argument within the boundaries of the issue: that the elementary schools should not promote birthday celebrations that revolve around food. Period.

    • Westport Convert

      Wrong again.

      Public Schools absolutely cannot dictate what I can or can’t bring my child if the schools are choosing to celebrate & acknowledge the birthdays. We’re not talking about bombs here — we are talking about a cupcake.

      I would have no problem if the schools simply agreed to do away with the celebrations all together. But to decide to continue celebrating in school and then dictating HOW the celebration should be is terribly draconian.


  19. Breaking Bad

    If the kids are denied sweets, they will just eventually move to meth. Make cupcakes, not meth!

  20. For the greater health of my teeth, over my body (I was a skinny kid), my parents made our access to sugary cereals non-existant. I am more than making up for my childhod deprevation! Be careful, all these ‘restrictoins’ may backfire! Like the kids in college who never had a drink, they went bananas as freshman.
    Everything in moderation……

  21. Great cakes is not the problem… Its the parents and kids themselves. be active and don’t overindulge and you will be fine. Get involved with a sport and get away from the tv

  22. Towns high school child

    I am a junior in high school but i still remember elementary school fondly. but one of my most fond memories are the birthday parties i would have in class. the cupcakes made the day about you and made it special. Also bringing it around to you r past teachers an having them still remember you was just a gift of a day. i understand he cafeteria banning them but the birthday parties is too much.