Why Threadless’ Cake Contest is a Tasty Idea

It might've seemed odd a few months ago when Threadless started putting social causes on its T-shirts for charity, but the community-fueled apparel company has long been enthusiastic about doing things that seem somewhat unusual. Case in point, 2011 marks the fifth year of its somewhat elusive -- and not well-publicized -- Threadcakes contest.

If you haven't heard of Threadcakes, its premise is quite simple. Threadless devotees are to bake a cake recreating a shirt design, submit several photos of it both being made and subsequently eaten, and then allow a panel of judges to determine whose entries are the best.

It's not like Threadless has been keeping Threadcakes a secret, but since kicking off in 2007, its existence hasn't exactly been shouted from the highest hipster mountaintops. That might be because it's actually run by a very dedicated Threadless enthusiast: Chris Cardinal, who runs the unofficial Loves Threadless fan blog, started the contest on his own blog back in the day. Now it's officially sanctioned by Threadless, with the T-shirt company donating prizes for its lucky winners.

And it's clear to see why. For a company that's built its success because of its fervent community, it'd be a colossal misstep to discourage this kind of unbridled culinary worship. In 2009, 600 cakes were submitted. Threadless ponies up some gift certificates and $500 cash at most, and in return it gets oodles of free publicity. Heck, in order to enter Threadcakes, you have to Facebook and tweet out your submissions. That means Threadless just has to sit back and let its fans do that aforementioned shouting -- and baking --  for them. Pretty sweet.

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