We have the World’s Largest Shortcake
Imagine going into your kitchen and baking a cake to serve more than 15,000 people. All you need is 514 cups of sugar, 224 cups of shortening, 192 cups of eggs, 992 cups of flour, 576 teaspoons of salt, 2048 teaspoons of baking powder, 448 cups of milk and 18 cups of vanilla.
That cake is made every year, not in an ordinary kitchen but at a local grocery store baker.
The shortcake was not part of the festival for its first 22 years, but was added in 1931. The first several cakes were baked by Wesley Munyan, owner of Munyan Bakery.
The recipe developed by Munyan is a cross between a sponge cake and a biscuit. When the bakery changed hands, later owners Clarence Shimanek and Claude Durlam continued the tradition.
After the cake-baking duty wandered among several restaurants in the community, now provided by Mega Foods.
The “World’s Largest Shortcake” label was applied early on, but has been disputed by other communities at times. In 1975, there was a “Battle of the Shortcakes” between Lebanon and Garden Grove, California. Lebanon won easily. Our cake weighed 5,700 pounds and served about 16,000. Their cake weighed 1,200 pounds and served 3,000.In 1946, following three years with no festival, the shortcake was “sacrificed as part of the community’s effort to conserve food for hungry countries which not only have no shortcake but no bread,” according to a news story at the time. Shortages occurred in Lebanon too. The same issue of the Lebanon Express told of an “acute shortage” of meat and bread in Lebanon.
Once baked, in hundreds of smaller sheet cakes, the cake is assembled by the GFWC OFWC Lebanon Zenith Woman’s Club into a three tiered trailer, covered with powdered sugar and dotted with strawberries. It travels through the Grand Parade under a cover of clear plastic.
When it arrives at the festival grounds at Cheadle Lake Park, organizers expect that about 15,000 free servings complete with juicy strawberries and whipped cream, will be handed out by the Oregon Dairy Wives, who donate the whipped cream. Beta Sigma Phi sorority members of Lebanon deliver the 1000 pieces of shortcake to people who are unable to get out to the parade, including residents of The Oaks and Willamette Manor, patients at Lebanon Community Hospital, and those on duty at the fire and police stations.
The GFWC OFWC Lebanon Zenith Woman’s Club have been decorating the cake since 1964.