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Cake Zine #3

Cake Zine #3

This excerpt comes from Cake Zine, a New York magazine which, despite its name, addresses the wider world of sweets and deserts. And with their latest issue, the editors have explicitly broadened their horizons further, theming it Humble Pie.

The stretching of their remit continues inside the issue. Yes, there are plenty of recipes—including several depression-era American pies that seem timely today— and an essay about soggy bottoms (the ultimate pastry crime). But there are also several references to the verb ‘pie’, my favourite of which is a piece about British reality TV show ‘Love Island’.


Front cover of Cake Zine issue three, Humble Pie

As editor Tanya Bush explains, ‘When we opened up submissions for the Humble Pie issue, we knew we wanted a piece on reality television and the spectacle of humiliation. We found it with culture writer Olivia Crandall, who pitched us a piece on pieing in ‘Love Island’, where pastry doesn’t just serve as the show’s euphemism for rejection, but as a ‘sensory mess of shame’ via the mid-series game Snog, Marry, Pie.’

The result is an examination of slang, a reminder of the many variants of the English language—both local and international—and a consummate example of eating Humble Pie.



Over to Olivia…


Love Island has its own language. For the uninitiated, it’s basically like any other reality dating show, but longer (upwards of sixty episodes each season), more invasively filmed (we’re talking in-bed night vision cams), more transparent in its goals (the public gets to vote in eliminations, a precursor to the way the public later decides which ‘islanders’ will get fame, attention, and a fat stack of sponcon dollars), and most notably, more British. The show is nothing without its thick accents and specific slang that have most Americans smashing on the subtitles.

It’s more than just a vat of Essex accents, though. Love Island is a verbal universe rich with slang, metaphor, and oral tradition. There’s grafting (flirting with gusto) and buzzin’ (very excited). There’s the melt (acting soft) and the ick (sudden cringe). There’s the annual creation of a new euphemistic scale of sex acts, often unique to each gender. And there’s a whole lot of pie. Pieing off (big rejection), pie-to-the-face (humiliating literal tin full of mystery cream), and a branded novelty water bottle full of subtext in between.

‘I got mad love for you but I’m also a petty bitch and you kissed Summer in our bed, so you get the pie.’—Indiyah Polack. (2022, July 19).
Snog, Marry, Pie,
Love Island, Series 8, episode 43.

When the islanders use the phrase ‘pied off,’ they’re referring to rejection. Whether it be indifference or a firm dumping, when you’ve been “pied,” you’ve been snubbed, almost always romantically. This usage was not invented in the villa (Cosmopolitan UK claims its ‘origin’ is ‘Newcastle’), but the notion and verbiage of pieing are inextricable from the Love Island lexicon. Pie is never just pie.

In some ways, the language of Love Island could be considered a familect—the islanders (an unhinged, transient family unit) use invented and redefined words and phrases as a means to reinforce their bonds. When the girls use ‘manicure’ and ‘blowdry’ to refer to handjobs and blowjobs, it feels more like twelve-year-olds discreetly gossiping in the back of class than adults cheekily detailing their shared-bedroom sexual exploits. The real words are avoided to save face. An islander could say ‘he’s not interested in fucking me because I do not meet the big-titty-tiny-waist beauty standards and dangerous tanning regimen these lads demand,’ but the phrase ‘I got pied off’ serves as a verbal softener. Islanders can express what happened without looking frustrated or upset or, even worse, self-serious—a death sentence when the overarching goals are looking hot, winning followers, and fine, maybe finding a cute summer love.

While it’s heavily leveraged in conversation, ‘pied off’ has a more literal (and intense) use case later on. The mid-series game, ‘Snog, Marry, Pie’ is seemingly just a game—a villa twist on Fuck, Marry, Kill. Armed with soggy crusts of whipped cream, each islander is forced to confess crushes, mark territory, and express fury at inevitable infidelity by way of Casa Amor (the ‘twist’ each season where the boys and girls are split up by gender and introduced to an entirely new set of potential matches).

Second only to the challenge where islanders have to baby-bird condiments into each other’s mouths, getting pied is a sensory mess of shame. It’s not the reasons everyone must give for who they choose to pie that make it humiliating, but the sheer amount of goo. The eternal objective on ‘Love Island is to look sexy, and being face-fucked with curdled dairy products—in slow-motion of course—then standing around to let the cream dry into a mottled paste is not exactly the right kind of hot. The mortification continues as each islander must then complete their confessional, recounting the details of their pieing as if it was a totally gleeful occurrence, still spackled in creamy sludge.

Read the whole piece in Cake Zine issue 3.


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