Pasadena's Cake Museum

Rohit Khare (
Wed, 6 Nov 1996 18:10:13 -0500

Exhibits: Frances Kuyper's cake museum in Pasadena attracts visitors from
around the world.=20

By BOB POOL, Times Staff Writer

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0In a world where esoterica is exhibited as well as exalted=
, Frances
Kuyper takes the cake.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 And she keeps it, too, in the world's only cake museum.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Kuyper is cake curator at her Pasadena museum, which is l=
ayered with
creations for weddings and birthdays and for the oddball occasion that
calls for a chocolate Chihuahua or an edible Eiffel Tower.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Glass cases display about 150 cakes--some up to 65 years =
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 No, Kuyper does not have a mouse, ant or cockroach proble=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "I had the place fogged with bug bombs before I opened," =
said Kuyper,
78. "I have a termite guy come every month. I've tried to think of
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Kuyper said the idea for a cake museum came to her as a s=
weet dream.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "I had a vision in 1977--I saw materials in my head, righ=
t down to
the fabric on the window curtains in the front," she said.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Launching it wasn't easy.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 She and her husband, retired mailman Frankie Kuyper, had =
two houses
on their North Lola Avenue property. They moved into the rear home on the
lot and spent their $40,000 savings converting the front dwelling into an
exhibition area.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 More than a few people warned her that a cake collection =
seemed like
a half-baked idea.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "When I opened 2 1/2 years ago, everybody said it wouldn'=
t work, that
nobody would come," she said. "But it has worked."=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 These days, the exhibit is open by appointment. More than=
1,000 have
made pilgrimages to it.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Fans are downright sugary in their praise too.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "It's just perfect. The displays are gorgeous," said Akik=
o Miyake of
Pasadena, who came looking for cake decorating ideas.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "Even for guys it's interesting," said Helen Cheng, a Cov=
homemaker who took her three young children along.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Like most museums, Kuyper's has rules: No touching. No ta=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 The decorative frosting on most display cakes is real. Bu=
t it has
hardened over the years. And beneath the icing is a base made of plastic,
not flour.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Because her museum is in a residential area, Kuyper canno=
t charge
admission. So she conducts cake-decorating classes to help cover operatin=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 One of her decorating techniques is to use an airbrush to=
surprisingly lifelike portraits traced onto icing from a photo projector.=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "People tell me they'd never want to slice into one of th=
ese," Kuyper
said, holding up a sweetly smiling Oprah Winfrey cake. "I tell them it's =
legitimate way to cut somebody's throat without hurting anybody."=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Expert cake decorators from several countries have visite=
d the museum
for lectures and demonstrations. They stay in an upstairs bedroom next to
the cake reference library--which contains 1,000 cake-decorating books an=
90 how-to videos.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Mail addressed to "The Cake Lady," as the 46-year decorat=
ing veteran
calls herself, comes to a plaster-of-Paris cake mailbox out front that
earns a chuckle from letter carrier Jun Kang each afternoon.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 The cake mail drop is one of 80 featured in a new book, "=
U.S.A." Author Rachel Epstein of Mill Valley, Calif., said Kuyper
contributed the "recipe" for the plaster cake to the book.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 As for Kuyper, she has even bigger cake plans in the oven=
. She is
trying to build a museum in Springfield, Mo., that would be far grander
than a new cake museum going up in London.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 "There's lots of vacant property there, and it's only 50 =
miles from
Branson, Mo. Over 55 million people go to Branson every year," she said.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 But she acknowledged that it will take more than baker's =
dough to
pull it off. "What I need is a sugar daddy," she laughed.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Ending her career with a larger museum, Kuyper said wistf=
ully, would
really be the icing on the cake.=20
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Appointments to visit the cake museum can be made by call=
ing (818)

Copyright Los Angeles Times=20