Mariah Carey/Marie Curie Birthday Cake Mix-Up Story Goes Viral


On the face of it, Mariah Carey, the Grammy-winning singer, and Marie Curie, the Nobel prize-winning scientist, don’t have a whole lot in common, but their names apparently sound enough alike to be confused – and that fact has led to a viral moment.

Last week, a Toronto writer named Harriet Alida Lye tweeted out an image of a cake with a photograph of a somber-looking Marie Curie iced onto it, providing a sober counterpoint to a semicircle of pink frosted cupcakes decorated with candles spelling out “Happy Birthday.”

“Happy Birthday Siobhan,” read the white all-cap lettering on the cake. The lack of exclamation points, or really any punctuation, seemed to echo the unamused look on Curie’s face.

“My cousin in England told her colleagues she wanted a Mariah Carey birthday cake. They misunderstood, and is the cake they made her instead. It’s Marie Curie, looking very festive,” Lye captioned her post, which has generated almost 45,000 Retweets, more than 210,000 Likes, and 2,200 Comments, some of them quite clever.

“this cake deserves two Nobel prizes in different fields,” wrote one wag, referring to Curie’s status as the sole person to win Nobel prizes in two different sciences.

“Checking the replies to make sure no one beat me to the ‘she looks radiant!’ reply,” snarked another. (Curie, in case you have forgotten all your high school science, pioneered the theory of radioactivity.)

“It really ought to be a yellow cake...” quipped a third, making a uranium pun and prompting a self-identified “Pedantic Science bitch” to chide in response, “That’s uranium, not radium or polonium.”

Because, see, Curie discovered the elements polonium and radium, which are different from uranium (milled uranium oxide is also known as “yellowcake”) and these are words we never thought we would be typing in a story about Mariah Carey and birthday cake.

Carey, for her part, caught wind of the cake mix-up and responded with good cheer, retweeting Lye’s original post and commenting: “This could've been me if only I hadn't failed remedial math … happy birthday Siobhan!!”

Nice to see that Siobhan collected the exclamation points a birthday girl so richly deserves. However, the story has a coda: Lye’s cousin Siobhan Casey, whose birthday was actually back in March, clarified to the BBC that the cake was not a mistake on her colleagues’ part, but actually a deliberate joke.

Casey had once made a Mariah Carey cake for her brother, who is a big fan of the singer, but when she told a colleague about it, “he kept asking why I'd make a 'Marie Curie cake,'" she said. So another work pal, Elizabeth Kaye, decided to make her a Marie Curie cake for her birthday using what Kaye said was “the most sombre picture I could of Marie Curie.”

"It was hilarious, but a little embarrassing how far this has gone," Casey said of the way the whole thing blew up on social media and news reports.

Cake maker Kaye is embarrassed, too, but for different reasons. "I can't believe the worst, burnt cake I've ever baked has been seen by so many people -- including Mariah Carey," she told the BBC.

We are all our worst critics.

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