cake gaffes

Publix Refuses to Print ‘Cum’ on Summa Cum Laude Graduate’s Cake

Moms everywhere agree: A kid’s graduation is one of life’s very few occasions where they’re allowed to go all-out. That’s what Charleston-area resident Cara Koscinski did this past weekend for her 18-year-old son Jacob — she threw a party and special ordered a cake from Publix that cost $70 (“!!” she wrote beside the price on Facebook). She picked the grocery chain partly because its website has a page that lets you customize your cake, from frosting colors to the inscription, which you write inside a little box it provides.

Jacob was graduating his homeschool program with a 4.79 GPA, so Koscinski’s inscription read: “Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude class of 2018.” Unfortunately, Publix’s page has an algorithm that decides what words are and aren’t allowed, and it clearly never bothered learning any Latin. Koscinski’s page returned a note saying “profane/special characters not allowed,” then struck cum from the message and replaced it with three hyphens.

Koscinski thought she’d found a way around the goof: The form also had a “Special Instructions” section, so in that area, she explained that summa cum laude was not profane but a Latin term that schools use as distinction for high academic honor. Just in case the bakery still doubted her, she even linked to a website explaining the Latin definition.

On Saturday, Koscinski sent her husband and sister to retrieve the cake from Publix, and when everyone gathered around to do the whole “Ta-da! Here’s the cake” thing, they saw that it read, “Congrats Jacob! Summa - - - Laude Class of 2018.” Jacob was “absolutely humiliated,” she tells the Washington Post, adding that she’s surely not the first Publix customer to try putting summa cum laude on a cake. Koscinski says that she was forced nonetheless to explain to her 70-year-old mom why the Latin word for with had been censored, all while Jacob’s friends “laughed uncontrollably.”

Jacob apparently didn’t eat much of the cake, and yesterday Koscinski called Publix to lodge a complaint, hoping to at least save future smart kids’ moms from such indignities. The store gave her an apology and offered to remake the cake using the unredacted Latin message. Koscinski told them thanks, but no thanks, explaining, “No, you only graduate once.”

Publix Removes ‘Cum’ From Grad’s ‘Summa Cum Laude’ Cake