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Slicing Through The Layers: How The LSU/Alabama Groom’s Cake Prank Embodies American Tribalism


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Today, we outsourced the topic on the fly.

If you haven’t by now seen the latest in this series, here is a primer: LSU woman marries Alabama man, has purple and gold layers baked into the groom’s cake so that when he slices through the white and crimson Alabama-themed icing, he’s in for the shock of his newlywed life.

It’s a surprise, only it’s not. Everyone seems in on the prank, and even he senses that something is amiss as he begins slicing and the crowd collectively inhales in expectation. He delays. But he is now on center stage. He cannot help himself. The knife slowly continues slicing, and the piece of cake is eventually parted from the remaining bulk of the rest of it with painstaking deliberation, exposing the bold colors of his hated rival. The room is engulfed in raucous and thunderous celebration.

This is America.

Per Merriam-Webster:

Definition of tribalism


: tribal consciousness and loyalty; especially : exaltation of the tribe above other groups

: strong in-group loyalty

The “exaltation of the tribe above other groups.” The raw fanaticism in this declaration is potent. There is a silent and unsaid “ROLL TIDE” hanging in pregnant pause at the end of this description. But it’s the second definition that spurred this prank.

Life in America in 2018 seems to be defined by clinging to what you identify with, sometimes with extreme and questionable motives and levels of rationality. Folks, that is, at its heart, the fundamental identity of college football.

LSU is in the midst of a seven-game losing streak to Alabama, going back to the 2011 National Championship game. Only two of those games have been decided by a touchdown or less. It’s been a long, bruising slide into what has now become the second-longest losing streak in the long and storied rivalry. But if you know Tiger fans, you know they won’t lie down quietly. Sometime, somewhere, there is a deliciously surprising confection lurking and waiting to pounce, Alabama fans.

Strong in-group loyalty, indeed. The crowd could not have been all pro-LSU. But at that moment, with that knife suspended tantalizingly above the icing, they didn’t care. They knew that something out-of-place and exciting was about to happen, and they wanted to be a part of that feeling of being in a group. Better to cheer for your rival’s colors being revealed in a cake than to actually experience a loss on the field. Any way you slice it, that’s the embodiment of a sports rivalry: sabotage, fun, embarrassment, all followed by a nice little party. The icing, as it were, on the cake.