Candles may be an essential for a birthday cake, but science may have given us a reason to forego them.
Apparently, blowing out birthday candles can increase the amount of bacteria on the cake by about 1,400%.
Think about that for a second. A 1,400% increase means that if there was even just one bacterium on the cake at first, there are 1,400 bacteria on it after someone blows out the candles — and you know there's never just one bacterium on anything.
For the study, published in the Journal of Food Research, researchers made fake cake (because why waste a real one?) by frosting a circular piece of foil and sticking in some birthday candles. They then had "party-goers" who had just eaten pizza blow on the candles of some of the cakes, but not on others. Testing the frosting found that the cakes that had been blown on had massively more bacteria than the cakes that had not.
The good news, according to the researchers, is that it isn't as gross as it sounds (even though it sounds pretty gross). Sure, the results of this study means that you've likely been eating bacteria from the mouths of every friend or family member who had a birthday for your whole life, but that bacteria probably wasn't harmful.
"It's not a big health concern in my perspective," study co-author Paul Dawson told The Atlantic. "In reality, if you did this 100,000 times, then the chance of getting sick would probably be very minimal."
That said, it's probably best not to eat the cake if you're at a party with a bunch of five year old's with runny noses. Blowing on the cake definitely can and will spread illnesses like the flu or a cold if the person doing the blowing is sick.
While it may not be likely to get you sick, we're willing to bet you think twice before popping a bite of just blown-on birthday cake in your mouth ever again.
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