A Custom “Summa Cum Laude” Graduation Cake Was Censored By A Publix Store & The Internet Can’t Stop Laughing
Graduating from high school is a notable achievement, and graduating with honors is even more of an accomplishment. But one student's family tried to celebrate his graduating with highest distinction, and ended up with a cake for the ages. The story should be straightforward: Ordering a grocery store cake isn't exactly a complicated process, and it's fair to think that supermarkets are probably making a ton of graduation cakes right now. But a custom "summa cum laude" graduation cake was censored by a Publix store, and the Internet can't stop laughing.
According to The Washington Post, Cara Koscinski had organized a graduation party for her son, Jacob, who graduated high school with a 4.89 grade-point average, a pretty impressive average meriting highest honors. She ordered a customized sheet cake online from a South Carolina Publix store and asked that it read, "Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude class of 2018." But the supermarket chain wouldn't allow her to include the word "cum," because it triggered the site's anti-"profanity" feature. Koscinski assumed the bakery would know that "summa cum laude" isn't a vulgar expression, but even so, she left a note explaining what "summa cum laude" means in an academic context. (In case you missed it, it means "with highest distinction," and is typically conferred onto graduates with the highest grades in their class. You can also graduate magna cum laude — "with great distinction" — and cum laude — "with distinction." This is all Latin, BTW.)
But when the cake was picked up ahead of the party, no one checked at the store that the cake said what it was meant to — which, as you've probably learned by now, it did not. Once Koscinski opened the box, the party guests realized it said "Summa --- Laude." According to a Facebook post documenting the situation, Koscinski apparently had to explain to her elderly mother why the word "cum" was censored. So, there's that.
Naturally, the Internet can't get enough of this story. Merriam-Webster dictionary even saw an increase in searches because of the viral cake. I'd expect most 17-year-olds to find the situation funny, but according to the Post, Jacob was embarrassed by the cake. To be fair, being a teenager is tough, but being a teenager and having to explain why a supermarket chain might censor your cake? Less than ideal.
If you're having a hard time taking the story seriously, I understand because I'm in the same boat. But no one wants their graduation cake ruined, so I also do feel bad for Jacob. Publix quickly tried to remedy the gaffe by offering Koscinski a $70 refund and store gift card, but we've all seen the "Summa --- Laude" cake, and none of us will ever forget it. The family seems to have moved on as well — Koscinski joked that she should've "just gotten him his favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream instead" in her interview with the Post.
The moral of the story? We should probably just using the Latin language full stop. Just kidding — Latin is used across many contexts in academia, law, medicine, you name it. Though it's probably a helpful feature in some contexts that the online ordering system censors out profanity, so that the human on the other end of the system doesn't have to see it, it might also be helpful if the system could recognize common phrases that *might* be profanity-adjacent, that are also likely to show up on a customized cake. Or, heck, we could also just let adults print what they want onto a sheet cake. It's 2018, after all.