I’d like a chocolate cake, please.

or, The Art of Buying Something.

I’d like a chocolate cake, please!

Sure, just need a few details.


What size cake do you want?

Hmm, hard to tell. How big do you think it should be?

Well that depends… how many people are you serving?

Between 0 and 17.

That’s a wide range

Yep, still early days. The cake’s important though. I wanted to get a head start on the cake. Want to get it right!

Don’t you want to wait until you know how many people you’ll be serving?

It’s hard to know who’ll turn up. What size do you usually make?

We can be flexible but we usually make small, medium and large cakes to order. A large cake to serve 12 to 14.

We might have 17.

So probably best to say 17 people, right? Don’t want anyone left out.

Absolutely. 17 people. Absolutely.

So our signature chocolate cake with our world-famous chocolate frosting, baked fresh the day you want it. An extra-large, serving 17 people.

About the frosting. What other options do you have?

Well, the frosting is really what we’re known for here… people love it.

Yes, I’ve heard great things about it! What other frosting options are there?

Well, we could try a new flavor for you, what do you have in mind?

Oh, I thought you would come up with the flavors. Isn’t that what I’m you paying for?

I think you’ll really like our chocolate frosting. It’s world-famous!

Well I guess if that’s all you can do, it will be ok.


How much will this cake cost?

Well we haven’t discussed all the details yet, decorating, delivery etc.

Sure but around how much?

How much were you hoping to spend?

It’s for a very special occasion!

Exciting! If you can tell me how much you were planning to spend we could come up with something that would work.

I really want this cake to be amazing!

Ok, I can tell you are really excited about this cake! $55 is about average for an extra-large cake.

I have $14.

Ok, we could make you a medium cake for $20.

That would feed 17 people?

No, a medium cake feeds 8 to 10 people.

But you said it should feed 17 people? Can you make it a little bigger so it might feed 17 people? Like medium-large? I have lots of events like this you know!

Medium-large is not a thing. But we’ll do one large custom-made chocolate cake, world-famous chocolate frosting, no sprinkles for $30.

Great, thank you. I really appreciate your flexibility. It’s still a lot though. Help me understand the price. Can you break it out by ingredient for me?

I don’t recommend that.

Oh I know, but just so I can understand what goes into it.

Well there’s flour, sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate, eggs, salt, baking soda.

Salt? You put salt in a cake??

Yes. Everybody puts a little salt in.

That makes no sense! Who wants a salty cake?

No one wants a salty cake, it’s just a little. A pinch.

Oh, why did you bring it up then?

Well you asked to…

About this list of ingredients you have. I notice you didn’t put baking it on the list. I guess that was a miss! What if we baked it ourselves, how much would that save?

Well, baking isn’t an ingredient, it’s a process. We don’t typically sell just cake batter, most people prefer to buy the finished cake.

I bet! So much better!
About how much?

Well, we’ll be baking other cakes so it wouldn’t save you much. And if something goes wrong when you bake it, we can’t be responsible for that.

Things go wrong a lot, with your cakes?

No, not when we bake them, but if you want to bake it yourself there’s a chance something could go wrong. We have some very experienced bakers here.

Well sure, in an ideal world we’d have you bake it, but who lives in that world!

Well lots of…

We have an oven, we can bake it here.

I really don’t think that’s the best approach.

We can use it for free. I can’t really pay you for something that we can already get for free. Wouldn’t be responsible.

Right, but we bake cakes every day and know the process really well. We’re pretty good at it, and know how to ensure it comes out perfect every time.

Fine. We’ll use your special oven. Since we’re breaking this up, can you list out all the other parts of the process for me?

Why not! Dry mixing, wet mixing, baking, cooling, frosting, decorating.

Well that doesn’t sound like such a special process. Everyone does that.

Yes, but its how we…

How long does it take?

All in all, its about 4 or 5 hours.

$30 for 5 hours? Isn’t that a lot? I guess I’ll try to come up with a creative solution. What if you just do the dry ingredients and we do the wet stuff and you bake it in your special oven. That would probably save you some time.

Well that’s just how long the cake takes to bake, you can’t rush it. We really can’t just do part of it, baking is a science you know!

Right. Science and special ovens. Cake wizard scientists. Thanks for your interest in this, we’re talking to 8 other bakeries, we’ll let you know in 2 to 7 months if you make the shortlist.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.