Description: What better place to start this debate than with the traditional chocolate cake? A staple of dessert-dom, whether eaten in its classy ganache-drizzled form, the German way, or in self-loathing fistfuls like the fat kid from Matilda (we’ve all been there), it is a solid choice for pretty much any after-dinner moment.
Description: Apple pie, while being what we most likely think of when we think of pie (unless you’re some insufferably fancy person who thinks of an organic pear-almond tartlet or something), is often pretty lackluster when not combined with its melty, creamy brother in arms: the scoop of vanilla ice cream. Though it’s always on the menu, its dependency on being à la mode makes it lose a solid point or two.
Description: Oh, store-bought birthday cake. You, the bearer of all things partially hydrogenated oil and excessive white sugar, how heavily you figure into all of our lives. We have grown accustomed to this saccharine confection as the marker of any and all informal celebration where a cake of some kind is expected (from child’s birthday to office party), but that doesn’t make you any less terrible at the end of the day. Even if we’ve developed some kind of Stockholm Syndrome and grown to like you on some masochistic level, you are still pretty gross, objectively speaking.
Description: Key lime pie, you beautiful, beautiful creature. With your graham-crackery crust, your perfect balance of sweet and tart, and your generous dollops of whipped cream (if you make your KLP with meringue, God has rejected you from His Kingdom), you are truly a fabulous pie. Even your sprightly chartreuse color just makes us want to leap for joy. We love you, key lime pie.
Description: I know we’re all a little burned out on cupcakes as a society by now, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less wonderful at the end of the day. Look at them, they are single-serving lumps of cake covered in a generous swirl of frosting (except for those cupcakes that just have a drizzle of something over them instead of actual frosting, but let’s try to block those out of our collective societal memory). They are a perfect little handfuls of cake, may they never flicker into overexposed obscurity.
Description: Rhubarbs (in all their forms) are gross as shit and, if you like them, you should feel bad about yourself. This isn’t even a pie, it’s a sick joke.
Description: I understand, perhaps better than many, the profound importance of a wedding cake — I recently attended a cake-less wedding in France (a country which does not believe in the wedding cake on a societal level, and thus is not a place fit to raise my future children). However, I think the whole “let’s have a crazy-ass wedding cake that looks like boxes of presents and other shit that is not a cake” phenomenon has gotten a bit out of hand. Why are we insisting on draping every half-decent slice of red velvet in 139023985029385 pounds of fondant? I don’t need your wedding cake to look like a school bus covered in dragons, I just need it to be delicious.
Description: We all know pumpkin pie is delicious — we have spent the better part of the 21st century so far trying to cram that flavor combination into as many products as we possibly can. (Not that I’m mocking, I will drink a pumpkin spice latte while sitting next to a pumpkin pie-scented candle any day of the week.) But I will have to deduct a few points here for its unavailability all year. Some people think that it makes the pumpkin pie experience more sacred, but I think we have reached the point as a civilization where we need that shit year-round.
Description: There is no excuse for fruit cake. If you give it to someone for Christmas, you are unequivocally telling them that you hate them and hope they die in a fire.
Description: Ahh, the Boston cream pie. The chocolate-drizzled identity crisis of the pastry world. You claim to be a pie, and yet you are so clearly a cake. You are two cakes, to be specific, with a layer of pastry cream/custard sandwiched between them. Your ganache topping doesn’t fool anyone, Boston cream pie, get it together. (You are delicious, though, I’ll allow you that.)
Description: Here’s the thing about cake pops: They are adorable, and colorful, and everyone’s aunt can’t get enough of them on Pinterest. They have their cultural place in things. But no one seems to discuss the egregious omission of frosting in so many of the pops — arguably the most desirable part of any cake. I can appreciate their novelty factor, but unless they are filled with a dollop of crucial frosting, they are not in it for the long haul.
Description: I mean, don’t get me wrong, cheesecake is delicious — but which is it? It claims to be a cake, and can sometimes have a slightly spongy texture, but it seems so clearly pie-like. It has the crust, often a fruity topping, and an overall creamy vibe. Let’s allow cheesecake to be the friendly middle ground between the two hot-headed contestants, and appreciate the beauty that it brings to both sides. I mean, come on, it even has its own factory where you can get a nearly-3,000-calorie plate of shrimp pasta. It’s essentially America in a sweet little slice.
Score: +5 for both teams
With cake coming in at a solid 14 points, but pie making a spectacular showing at 21, I think we have a clear winner here. Though in truth, I would consider myself more a cake person — credit where credit is due, pie is clearly (at least numerically speaking) the Justin Timberlake to cake’s JC Chasez.