Who wants the first slice?

By Mike Pomranz
March 13, 2017
© Theerawat Kaiphanlert / Getty Images

Thanks to globalization, the ease with which information can spread to the US from other parts of the world is incredible. Sometimes that might mean a new medical procedure can be used to save a child on the other side of the Earth. And sometimes that might mean  “meat cakes” finally go viral on Twitter. Thank you, technology!

Despite sounding possibly illicit, meat cakes are actually as innocent as they are surprisingly self-explanatory. These strange concoctions are, in fact, raw meat fashioned into the shape of a cake, typically intended for someone’s birthday. That simplicity is actually what makes a meat cake so compelling: the stark visual contrast of seeing what should be a fully-baked, sugar-loaded, carb-bomb that is actually made out of protein-packed raw meat.

According to Kotaku, the current meat cake trend actually began to take shape in Japan a few years ago. (Kotaku originally covered it back in 2015.) But the Instagram-ready phenomenon has since become popular at yakiniku restaurants across the country where patrons are typically served raw meat to cook themselves at their table. (Yakiniku spots are essentially Japanese grilled meat restaurants, although they may be of Korean origin.) Though it certainly feels like a special occasion any time someone brings you a tray of full of raw meat, these eateries obviously figured out that they could beef up birthday parties by combining the main course and the birthday cake all into one.

Thanks to the eye-popping images they create, meat cakes have recently been making a splash in the US – getting coverage on wide array of sites from Nerdist to Global Meat News and taking social media like Twitter by storm. Meanwhile, the photos are probably provoking an opposite reaction from vegetarians: Meat cakes certainly seem like one of the gaudiest ways to flaunt a love of animal protein.

Based on this newfound popularity, it’ll be interesting to see if meat cakes catch on here in the US.