It's a time honoured tradition in North America, but most of us don't realize how gross it actually is to blow out candles on a birthday cake.
Aside from the threat of getting spit on the icing (ewwww), according to a recent study, blowing out candles on a cake can increase the number of bacteria on said cake by 1,400 per cent.
Excuse us while we quietly puke now.
For the study, researcher Paul Dawson and his students made fake cakes by frosting round styrofoam bases. They then stuck candles in the "cakes," lit them, and blew on some of the cakes but not others. They also ate pizza to "simulate a birthday party," said Dawson. "We thought it might help the salivary glands get going."
The frosting on the cakes that students blew on had more bacteria than the cakes that hadn't had candles blown out. The cakes with the blown out candles also had more types of bacteria than the cakes without candles.
As the Atlanic notes, there was a lot of bacteria on the cakes that had candles blown out, however Dawson said he was surprised by how much it seemed to vary per blow.
"On average, blowing out the candles increased the amount of bacteria on the frosting by 14 times. But in one case, it increased the amount of bacteria by more than 120 times," reports the Atlantic. "Some people blow on the cake and they don't transfer any bacteria. Whereas you have one or two people who really for whatever reason... transfer a lot of bacteria," said Dawson.
However, the study notes that we're not doomed to get sick after eating cake that has been blown on. After all, the researchers say that candle-blowing on cakes has been a tradition for decades and may even date back to ancient Greece. And as far as they can tell, that hasn't led to any deaths by candle-blowing.
"It's not a big health concern in my perspective," Dawson told the Atlantic. "In reality, if you did this 100,000 times, then the chance of getting sick would probably be very minimal."
So it looks like you can have your cake and eat it too.
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