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The Black Forest cake, alternatively referred to as the "Black Forest gateau," or simply "cake," typically consists of layers of chocolate, with whipped cream between layers, cherries on top, and sprinkled with white icing. However, some Black Forest cakes alternate with a covering of chocolate shavings, such as the type produced by Aperture Science.
For a time in the Aperture Science computer-aided Enrichment Center, Black Forest cake was used as a motivational object for Test Subjects utilizing the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. After GLaDOS' takeover in May 200- however, she incinerates Test Subjects after the completion of tests, negating the need for the cake as a reward, but still uses it to motivate Test Subjects.
Upon Chell's awakening an unknown period of time after the facility was taken over, GLaDOS makes her navigate Test Chambers utilizing the Portal Gun, with the promise of cake and grief counseling at the conclusion of the test. Upon arrival at Test Chamber 16 however, Chell discovers desperate messages scribbled on the wall by former Aperture employee Doug Rattmann, who went mad during his captivity, and was convinced that the "cake is a lie." Upon the completion of the test, Chell is met with an incinerator, apparently confirming that the cake is indeed "a lie." While making her way through the abandoned facility, GLaDOS tries to convince her to turn back by telling her that "somebody cut the cake" without waiting for Chell. However, GLaDOS later states that she is going to kill Chell, and that "all the cake is gone." But after Chell partially destroys GLaDOS and is taken by the Party Escort Bot, GLaDOS activates a series of Personality Cores, while at the same time extinguishing the candle on the cake, which was not a lie after all. Rattmann is not entirely wrong: while the cake itself exists, the lie resides in receiving the cake after the tests. It seems the cake is actually intended for GLaDOS herself; how she is presumably going to consume it is unknown.
The cake is briefly mentioned in Portal 2 when GLaDOS creates a trap for Chell with a door labeled, "GLaDOS Emergency Shutdown and Cake Dispensary, Keep Unlocked." It is also briefly seen in the Ratman Den containing the ASHPD, in which a mural of GLaDOS attempting to offer Chell a slice of cake can be seen.
GLaDOS has a strong affinity for cake, often unnecessarily mentioning it, and even having her Intelligence Core and the computer screens in the labs reciting her personal cake recipe. That recipe has both safe, non-toxic ingredients and strange, dangerous additives. The player can find it written on many of the screens around the office areas, but it is interspersed with random numbers and letters, making it difficult to read. An easier way is to listen to the Intelligence Core that drops from GLaDOS in the final battle, listen to its sound files, or browse the subtitles file. The ingredients are given in alphabetical order.
- Adjustable aluminum head positioner
- Alpha resins
- An entry called 'how to kill someone with your bare hands'
- And volatile malted milk impoundments
- Candy coated peanut butter pieces, shaped like fish
- Cordless electric needle injector
- Cranial caps
- Deep penetration agents
- Fiberglass surface resins
- Fish shaped candies
- Fish shaped crackers
- Fish shaped dirt
- Fish shaped Toulene
- Fish shaped organic compounds
- Fish shaped solid waste
- Four large eggs
- Gas and odor control chemicals that will deodorize and preserve putrid tissue
- Injector needle driver
- Injector needle gun
- Nine large egg yolks
- One 1825 ounce package chocolate cake mix
- One and two third (1 2/3) cups granulated sugar
- One can prepared coconut pecan frosting
- One cross borehole electro-magnetic imaging rhubarb
- One cup granulated sugar
- One cup lemon juice
- One cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- One large rhubarb
- One tablespoon all-purpose rhubarb
- One teaspoon grated orange rhubarb
- Pull and peel licorice
- Sediment shaped sediment
- Slaughter electric needle injector
- Three slash four (3/4) cup vegetable oil
- Three slash four (3/4) cups butter or margarine
- Three tablespoons rhubarb, on fire
- Twelve medium geosynthetic membranes
- Two cups all purpose flower
- Two cups rhubarb, sliced
- Two slash three (2/3) cups granulated rhubarb
- Two tablespoons rhubarb juice
- Unsaturated polyester resin
Behind the scenes
- The cake was inspired by a Black Forest cake made by The Regent Bakery & Café, located in Redmond, WA, not far from Valve's headquarters - one of their most popular cakes. Valve included it in Portal without telling them. When the game was released, the customers asked them "Did you guys know your cake is in a game?" and they were surprised, as they did not know.
- The quote "The cake is a lie" heavily contributed to Portal's success, and has become a very popular phrase and Internet meme. An example of which is in "Starcraft II"; when clicking on a unit multiple times, they will usually say things outside of the selection dialogue (if they are capable of speech). When doing so to the Terran unit known as the Raven, clicking it enough times will cause it to say "Who said anything about cake?" Another example is an achievement in Minecraft, called The Lie. It is obtained when the player bakes a cake for the first time.
- Additionally, in real-world contexts, the phrase "the cake is a lie" has come to be another way of saying "your promised reward is merely a fictitious motivator", such as when being promised a promotion for doing something at work, and not getting the promised promotion even if one does that something.
- Three Orange Box / Portal: Still Alive Achievements pertaining to the advanced maps are named after cakes: "Cupcake," "Fruitcake," and "Vanilla Crazy Cake." The first requires the player to beat two Portal advanced maps, the second to beat four advanced maps, the third to beat all six advanced maps.
- The cake is not as present in Portal 2 as it was in Portal. Primary Portal series writer Erik Wolpaw stated he is sick of the old Portal memes and has had enough cake jokes, and that trying to resurrect an old meme would have been "sad" and "not a good idea." As direct sequel Portal 2 revisits some elements of the original game, including GLaDOS. According to Wolpaw, the team has been careful not to retread too much of the same ground, preferring to explore new gameplay and an interesting new story, as the surprise spawned by the first game is long gone. However, two small references to the cake are still seen in Portal 2 - one by Doug Rattmann, and the other used by GLaD0S in a trap.
The full cake recipe from Allrecipes.com, as given by Game Informer.
List of appearances
- ApertureScience.com (First appearance)
- Portal: First Slice (Mentioned only)
- Portal: Still Alive (Non-canonical appearance)
- Portal 2: Lab Rat (Within "The cake is a lie" in binary code)
- Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game (Non-canonical appearance)
- Lego Dimensions (Non-canonical appearance) (Mention and logo)
- Let There Be Cake on Game Informer
- "the cake is a lie" on Urban Dictionary
- The Cake Is a Lie (2007) on Know Your Meme
- Portal 2's Wolpaw: 'I Do Not Want To Resurrect A Three-Year-Old Meme' on Gamasutra