Depressed Cake Shop Pops Up For A Good Cause

By David Konow 11/24/17

The Depressed Cake Shop sells customizable treats that serve as conversation starters about mental health issues. 

baker holding a platter of cupcakes and a cake platter.

The Depressed Cake Shop is a pop-up business that raises money for mental health organizations across the country. The company has a slogan on their official website: “Where there is cake there is hope, and there is always cake.”

In recent weeks, Depressed Cake Shops have popped up in Florida and Texas, and there have been hundreds that have been set up all over the world since 2013. (Just a few of the places Depressed Cake Shops have appeared include Australia, Glasgow, India, and Kuala Lumpur, to name a few.)

The company was founded by a UK woman named Emma Thomas. As the official website states: “We are a global community that promotes self care through the power of creativity and uses it to raise awareness and donations for mental health initiatives around the world.”

The company’s mission is to set up pop-ups “that sell highly customized baked goods as a way to get people talking about mental illness.”

The Depressed Cake Shop's sweets are created in black and grey colors, and often feature a lot of unhappy, frowning faces while the cakes' interiors are brighter colors that symbolize breaking through sadness. (Mara Shapshay, a close friend of the late Carrie Fisher, also made “paranoid pop tarts” and “bipolar brownies” for one pop-up event for the mental health organization This is My Brave.)

Along with raising money for mental health organizations, the Depressed Cake Shops also want to spark discussions about the importance of mental health awareness. As one mental health advocate who has been an active participant in Depressed Cake Shops told Today, “It’s such a conversation starter. Cake is so strongly associated with celebration, happiness, holidays – the pairing of cake with depression stopped people. Why is this cake depressed?”

According to WhoTV, one recent pop-up event was in Iowa at the Hy-Vee Sweet Shop. The store’s manager, Maddie Endicott, says, “You put something people represent as a good thing, like sweets and cake, that people do enjoy talking about with something they don’t want to talk about.”

And indeed, Nancy Bobo, the Vice President of the children’s mental health organization Orchard Place, added, “It really got people’s attention as to what is going on here. This is more than just cookies and cake.”

Bobo added that, “One in two kids, by the time they are 18, are going ot have some type of mental health disturbance, and 20% of those are going to suffer from more of a depressive episode. If kids and adults alike get the help they need, those issues can be taken care of, and those people can move on to health, productive lives.” 

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.