My most vivid childhood birthday memories involve Jiffy cake. Every year my mom baked the same version: golden yellow cake with fudge frosting. My brother and I would lick the frosting from the mixer beaters as my mom iced the cake and wrote Happy Birthday! in cursive with Cake Mate gel. We'd store leftovers in a old metal cake box that had a picture of a bowl of fruit on its side.
As a child, Jiffy cake was a delicacy. It tasted even better the next day when the frosting had slightly hardened.
Jiffy cake hasn't been the easiest product to find in grocery stores, but after several Jiffy-less years, I recently discovered the blue boxes on the lowest shelf in the baking aisle.
The afternoon that I frosted the cake, my girls licked the beater mixers until they were clean. As we ate, my husband remarked, not unkindly, that the cake's consistency reminded him of cornbread. I had to admit that the frosting, which is formed by mixing powder with two tablespoons of boiling water, has a distinct, if subtle, grittiness.
After eating Jiffy cake as an adult, I'm pretty sure that my memory of it is better than the cake itself. And that's okay.
Jiffy cake tastes like childhood, and nobody can argue with that.