Sink cake is leftover celebratory cake--say, birthday cake--from an office conference-room party that you did not attend. The generous organizers then put the half-eaten cake on the break-room kitchen counter for the rest of the office to share. And that’s where you encounter it: a crumbly fraction of a sheet cake, its icing flowers wilting beneath the fluorescent light--a sad remnant of a 30-minute party that guests were invited to via Microsoft Outlook.
There are also “sink cookies,” “sink bagels” (after other people’s breakfast meetings) “sink Indian food” (after other people’s lunchtime seminars), and so on. Sink pizza is always popular. At many jobs I've had, late summer also brought sink tomatoes and sink zucchini, when gardening coworkers brought in the fruits of their overproducing backyard gardens.
Sink cake is paradoxically both tempting and revolting. It often shows up late in the afternoon, when boredom, fatigue, and hunger make a person highly susceptible to sugary treats. Then again, that sugary treat has been sitting there, for who knows how long, right next the rancid sink sponge and someone’s two-day-old unwashed Tupperware.
This unsavory environment can make sink cake hard to enjoy. So you cut your piece, put it on a paper plate, cover that plate with a paper towel, and scurry back to your cubicle with it--for me, at least, there's always something surreptitious about sink cake. I feel slightly guilty for taking a piece--after all, I haven’t been officially invited, and there's not enough for everyone in the office to share. If you sit near your office’s kitchen, you have surely noticed people attempting stealth when removing sink cake or sink pizza back to their cubes.
And then there’s the sad disappointment of walking into your office kitchen and finding that the sink cake is all gone.