22/06/16 What is the Depressed Cake Shop?

Click on the image to download the pdf

WEP230616 Cover

One in four people will suffer from, or be touched by, a mental health issue at some point in their lives

Vocabulary. Read and check you understand this before you read and listen to the article:

platform (n): space where a cause can be promoted.

pop-ups (n): temporary shops which suddenly appear.

toolkit (n): set of tools needed for a job or task.

charities (n): bodies which collect & distribute money to those in need.

conspirator (n): a person who participates in a conspiracy. 

donate (v): to give money or goods to a good cause.                                                                                       marshmallows (n): a spongy sweet confection.


The Depressed Cake Shop is a unique (and delicious) platform designed to raise awareness of these challenges.  With the help of its co-conspirators, it hosts pop-ups worldwide that sell highly customised baked goods as a way to get people talking about mental illness.

The organisation provides a safe place for conversation and a unique toolkit that enables interested bakers and organisers to raise funds for mental health charities through locally organised pop-ups.

What is the origin of the Depressed Cake Shop?

In the summer of 2013, Emma Thomas, a creative director and P.R. specialist in the United Kingdom, conceived a project called the Depressed Cake Shop. One in four people will suffer from mental health issues at some point in their lives. The Depressed Cake Shop was created as a unique (and delicious) platform to raise awareness and discuss these issues while raising money for local mental health charities.

Emma’s brief was very specific — the cakes had to be grey, but could have a spot of colour to symbolise hope. Her astute intuition was that this would ensure that the concept stood out from the countless charity fundraisers that take place each year.

It was very successful and received attention throughout the United Kingdom. It also created an active community of bakers and organisers who joined a Facebook group and were inspired to create pop-ups of their own.

Then, something magical happened. The concept did not end with that first pop-up, the bakers and organisers kept going. Shops popped up in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Glasgow, Houston, Seattle, Kuala Lumpur, Atlanta, Australia and India (just to name a few).

Many of the cakes were designed and donated by bakers who had personal experience with depression, and they used their creations to express their struggles with and experiences of their illnesses. Others were compelled to join because they had seen friends and family members suffering and wanted to be part of a solution. The committed co-conspirators who have kept the Depressed Cake Shop movement alive are continually looking for new opportunities to change the conversation around mental health one grey cake at a time.

What does involvement entail?

When a baker becomes involved with the Depressed Cake Shop there is only one requirement, that the baked goods you donate have an element of grey to signify the grey cloud that can descend over a beautiful world when someone is struggling with mental health issues.

The Depressed Cake Shop welcomes any type of donated baked good, and its shops have become a wonderful and curated collection ranging from professional bakers with store fronts, to licensed home bakers, to people who bake as a hobby and just want to be involved.

The organisation asks that contributors avoid using nuts as so many people are seriously allergic to them. Other than that, volunteers can make a cake to be sold in its entirety or by the slice, cake pops, cupcakes, or cookies. Some people have made custom marshmallows, ‘misfortune cookies,’ pies, chocolate covered Oreos. The only limit is the contributors’ imagination.

A list of ingredients should be provided, as well as the type and flavour of the item. A fun name is great too. Vegan and gluten free items are also welcome as customers often request them.

“Let’s chat about that!”

  • What is the Depressed Cake Shop?
  • How did it get started?
  • What happens to the money collected?
  • How can making cakes help with depression?
  • Could it catch on here?
  • If you are feeling down do you eat (or do) something special?

Adapted from Depressed Cake Shop


Leave A Comment