Icing on the Cake

Cake collection

Expressions.  I didn’t grow up hearing them very often so, most of the time, when someone uses one, I don’t understand it and I just nod my head in agreement.  (I also do that when the person speaking to me has an accent.  I can’t understand anything said to me by a person with an accent.).

Recently, I heard someone use the expression “icing on the cake.”  Doesn’t that mean an additional benefit to something already good?  That everything you’ve already gotten/received/done was completely sufficient and that this one last thing, although not necessary, would make everything better?  For the Jewish readers, I believe the saying is somewhat equivalent to Dayenu.

As I thought about “icing on the cake”, it started to make less and less sense.  I understand the concept of being able to be satisfied even if you haven’t gotten every single thing that you wanted, and I agree with it.  I’m just not sure that “icing on the cake” gets me there because if someone put a piece of cake down in front of me that didn’t have icing, I would be disappointed. Horribly disappointed.  It wouldn’t be sufficient.  For me, the cake itself isn’t “something already good”; it’s something that has the potential to be very good once the icing is added.  Isn’t the whole point of cake the icing?  I mean, sure, there’s pound cake which doesn’t have icing and is just fine, but for most other cakes, isn’t the icing a key component?  Think about it this way: if you’re the type of person who likes the cake but not the icing, if someone served you a plate of icing with no cake, would you be satisfied?  And if someone said “it’s the cake under the icing” would that make sense to you?  (Ok, that doesn’t make sense to me either, but you get where I’m going, right?).

I think we need to start using a different expression.  Cake without icing is wrong.  It would be so dry as to potentially be a choking hazard.  It would be so disappointing that it would discourage me from even wanting the cake in the first place.  I wouldn’t feel good about it.  When I think about an additional benefit to something already good, I think about getting a room upgrade at a hotel.  Or a free Coke with a slice of pizza.  Or finding out the pants you were going to buy on sale are now marked down for a second time.  Maybe I’ll start using the expression “double sale.”  Or maybe I’ll just say Dayenu, and people will look at me quizzically and just nod their heads in agreement.

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