All the money we spent on the election? We could have baked a cake the size of DC with it.

The election is finally over, and I can finally stop obsessing over it and constantly refreshing Nate Silver’s 538 blog and the Princeton Election Consortium‘s page.

Now that Obama’s in the White House for another four years and Minnesota’s amendment to ban gay marriage has been shot down, my thoughts have returned to more pleasant–and important–matters. Of course, I’m speaking about cake.

On any given day, about ninety percent of my thoughts somehow involve cake. For instance, I’ll be going to get coffee at work, and the voice inside my head will lament: You know what would make this coffee even better? Cake.

Or the employment situation will be brought up, and I’ll immediately think of bakers. I envy bakers. You never see an unhappy baker. Why? First, they get chef’s hats, which is unfair. I wish I had an editor’s hat. More than that, bakers, by definition, get as much cake as they want. The same goes for pie, I suppose, but I don’t trust pie. Pie can be duplicitous. (Example #1: Shepherd’s Pie, which contains meat. Pies with meat should be illegal.)

Anyway, my wife and I were talking about the election the other day, and we both remarked how expensive the campaigns were.  By all accounts, the election cost billions, maybe even upwards of six billion. Then my thoughts turned to cake. After all, six billion dollars will get you a lot of cake.

So I wanted to find out how much. So I decided to do the math. I started out by wondering how many boxes of cake it would take to cover Colorado. Colorado looks a lot like a baking pan, you have to admit. And its dimensions (380 miles by 280 miles) aren’t all that far off to the standard baking pan (13×9), in terms of size ratio (1.35 to 1.44).

But after doing the math, it became clear you’d need way, way, way too much cake for it be possible. But then I started thinking about a more a realistic–and appropriate–locale to slather in batter: The District of Columbia itself. Aside from the obvious symbolism, DC kind of looks like a cake pan, albeit one with a weird handle. Plus, if one is going to blow billions of dollars on a silly, self-indulgent project that has no  positive effect on the nation, what town could be better? As the spending on the election ads themselves indicate, that’s exactly what DC just did. If one were to spend that money on cake itself, people would at least enjoy it.

So just for kicks, on my lunch break I decided to calculate amount of cake that the election dollars could have purchased us.

I’m assuming that all told, the election cost somewhere in the range of five or six billion, so let’s go with the high end of that range. Let’s call it six billion.

Now it’s time for math! (Correct me if I’m wrong, folks. I’m an English major.)

So…one 13×9 cake pan = 117 sq inches.  One box of cake can be expected to cover 117 square inches.

Area of DC = 68.34 square miles,which is 274,350,219,264 square inches

274,350,219,264 /117 square inches = 2,344,873,669 boxes of cake mix to cover all of DC. I am, of course, ignoring the district’s odd dimensions, elevation changes, the Washington Monument, etc.

A box of cake mix costs somewhere between $1-3. Since we’re (definitely) buying in bulk, let’s say we’ll get a deal @ about $1 per. So the boxes of cake themselves would cost about 2,344,873,669 dollars.

That’s not all we need, though. We also need eggs and vegetable oil. (I’m going to assume a river could be diverted for the necessary water.)

Each recipe calls for three eggs and 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. To save our nation’s chickens a bit of labor (and to make things healthier) let’s go with two eggs instead.

2,344,873,669 x 2 eggs = 4,689,747,338 eggs needed/12 = 390,812,278 dozen eggs x 1.99 per dozen= $781,624,556 dollars

Vegetable oil = $8 for a bottle, holds 24 oz, which is 3 cups. Each recipe calls for ½ cup. So each bottle has enough for six individual cakes. So we’d need 390,812,278 bottles x 8 = $3,126,498,225

Add all that up and you get: $2,344,873,669 + $3,126,498,225 + $781,624,556 = $6,252,996,450, just a shade over the high end of what the election cost.

Note: Barring the use of thermonuclear weapons, I have no idea how you’d bake this cake. The most awesome way I can envision baking it? With flamethrowers, obviously. Otherwise, we could all just enjoy the batter.


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