Birthdays in quarantine are strange and underwhelming no matter how old you’re turning. There may not be big parties or group dinners, but there can still be cake and candles, especially if you have the Top It Cake Shield, a covering for a cake designed to keep germs out. The shield is a food-grade, FDA-approved recycled polystyrene case you put over a birthday cake while you sing and make a wish. It was invented by a dentist, Billy Kay, who was concerned by the germs that inevitably spread when someone blows out their candles.
Research done in 2017 by Clemson University’s Food Safety Department found that “blowing out the candles over the icing surface resulted in 1400% more bacteria compared to icing not blown on.” I’m so sorry to have to tell you that because it’s truly disgusting, even if the bacteria is pretty benign... or at least that's how most people thought about it pre-COVID. Now that masks are mostly ubiquitous and hand sanitizer application is an hourly event, it makes sense that most people aren’t cool with someone else blowing all over a dessert they’re about to eat. (Honestly, I’m not quite sure why I was ever okay with this tradition.) Fortunately, the Top It Cake Shield has arrived just in time to save birthdays everywhere.
The shield is available three sizes: the smallest one ($4.99) fits a single slice of cake; there's one for quarter-sheet cakes, and another for round cakes between 8 and 10 inches in diameter (both of the larger shields retail for $14.99). You could easily use one of the bigger ones for a plate of cupcakes or a display of donuts, and the brand says if you email their customer service, they may be able to work their magic to accommodate some special requests — say if your child asks for a cake shaped like an excavator or an Octonaut (good luck to you there).
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There's a track on the top lid that will fit almost all candles (and you can add as many as you can fit), though the brand does not recommend using very thin candles which may not fit correctly in the track. These come packaged flat, and you'll have to assemble the shield, which is easy enough. The case itself is flame resistant (phew) plus it's 100% recyclable. These are actually intended for single-use and are not dishwasher-safe, though according to the brand's website says you could reuse it, just make sure it's thoroughly hand-washed.
And best of all, the shields are clear, so if you've worked hard on a Pinterest-approved cake, you still get to show it off and save your creation from a whole lot of spit particles — a real win-win. I have a feeling these are going to be very popular, and you can preorder now, so you might want to grab one while you can.