Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Publix Ruins Graduate's Proudest Moment

One of the proudest moments in young adult's life is when they graduate high school.  Especially if they're an honors graduate.  Doubly especially if they graduate with highest honors. 

Such was the case for Jacob Kosinski of Charleston, South Carolina.  Of course, you'll know that you've made that grade before the graduation, and his family, some from out of town, came to his graduation and party.
His whole family, many from out of town, saw the Charleston, South Carolina, student graduate from his Christian-based homeschool program with a 4.89 grade point average and the coveted honor of summa cum laude.
His mom ordered a special graduation cake from her nearest Publix, which lets customers build their own cakes complete with a customized inscription, which they enter into a little message box.
Carefully, she typed in the message she wanted on the cake: "Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude class of 2018."

The Publix software was unhappy with the word - cum. In Latin, cum is the preposition "with," as in summa cum laude "with the highest distinction." To the little box on the Publix website, however, the word meant something else and its sophisticated algorithm, alert for naughty words, returned a little message that said "profane/special characters not allowed." It substituted three hyphens for "cum."
It was the algorithms, of course.  Jacob's mother, Cara, said she filled out the request online, including a form that had a section for "special instructions" for the bakery.  She explained that Summa Cum Laude was a Latin term for high academic honor and was not profane, so she was concerned something like this might happen.  She even included a link to a website explaining the meaning of Summa Cum Laude and said she didn’t think much about it afterward.  Until the cake was opened at Jacob's graduation party. 

Jacob's mother was shocked and disappointed, saying, "I can’t believe I’m the first one to ever write "Summa Cum Laude" on a cake."  Maybe not, but maybe yours was the first order this crew ever got that said it.  

Publix offered to re-do the cake, but it was too late for that, so they gave her a $70 refund for the cake and a store gift card.  Jacob, for his part, is getting ready for college in the fall. 


  1. Yup, another entry in the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" file.

    Obviously no 'man-in-the-loop', so what's the purpose of the "Special Instructions" box?

  2. What do you expect? Look up "cake fails" and see more examples. Bakery people barely finished high school themselves.

  3. Graduated from High School in 1959. It was male only and one tested to enter. Freshman class was over 750 and only 295 graduated. Iron discipline from the start to the last day including corporal punishment. Yes, it was Catholic in an East Coast metropolis. No one in my graduating class came close to a 4.0 GPA. I was ranked 16th and ended up in an IVY Doctorate and Post Doc. Grade inflation serves no real purpose as it gives the student a false sense of worth.

    Dan Kurt

  4. Actually, it occurs to me that mom and her son were lucky. Consider the possibility that the baker _really_ was clueless. They could have decided the last word was wrong. The cake could have said: "Summ Cum Louder"

    SiG, you truly have my permission to delete this, with no hard feelings (yes, pun intended).