Birthday cake lovers, beware.

If you’ve ever taken part of the classic birthday ritual — you know: dimmed lights, loud singing of “Happy Birthday” followed by candle blowing — you’ve participated in a very disgusting tradition.

Researchers at Clemson University recently conducted a study to find out whether significant bacteria is transferred to the cake when someone blows out their candles.

Mimicking a traditional child’s birthday party, participants ate several slices of pizza before volunteering to blow out candles on top of an ordinary birthday cake.

A control group cake had no party-goers blow on it.

Then the two were compared.

Researchers found that the cake where the candles had been blown out had more than 1,400% more bacteria than the cake that was left alone.

Interestingly, people blew greatly varied number of bacteria — some didn’t transfer any, and some, for whatever reason, transferred a lot. (Maybe a germaphobic researcher out there would like to study for us how to hygienically blow on a birthday cake?)

While this is a disturbing find for party-goers out there, the candled cake won’t necessarily cause any harm if consumed.

One of the study’s researchers, Paul Dawson, writes the chance of getting ill from eating “blown on” birthday cake frosting is extremely unlikely. He told The Atlantic, “You could do this 100,000 and the odds that you would get sick would be very minimal.”

While it may be sick, at least it’s not deadly. So go ahead and celebrate as your friend makes it another year around the sun. Just remember one exception to this rule — It’s common sense, but if the birthday boy or girl is sick, maybe have them ask someone to blow out the candles on their behalf.

(h/t TipHero, The Atlantic)


Also see, Where to get free food on your birthday. 


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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.