Cake used to be the province of the super-rich, with the rank-and-file perhaps able to sample a fruit-flavored or honey-sweetened scone once in a great while. Marie Antoinette was famously excoriated for being so out of touch that she assumed starving peasants could afford cake, even though she never said such a thing.

Now, a custom-decorated sheet cake is available to all for just a few dollars, and a trifle that would have dazzled a medieval court is a common presence at birthday parties. And yet these new-cakes are, if anything, less healthy than the aristocrat-pleasing desserts of yore. A French aristocrat may have put on rolls of guillotine-delaying flab with honeyed cakes, but they would not have been so sweet or so efficiently sugary.

If the sweetness of the cake corresponds to the harshness of the fall…we might be in for trouble.

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