Is SugarSlam Rigged?

At first I was a little bummed that I even have to write a post like this – but a handful of nasty emails, tweets and comments have forced my hand. Then I realized its actually kind of flattering that anyone would think 1) that I’m enough of a heel to rig a baking competition and 2) that SugarSlam is big time enough to warrant being rigged. So here’s what you should know about SugarSlam:

SugarSlam is Non-Profit

In fact, SugarSlam costs me money to put on each year. This year I was lucky to have Dani contribute some cash to the contest, which helped to pay for the $100+ printing fees for posters, $100+ Facebook advertising fees and the cost of shipping the championship title to the new winner. I don’t even advertise on my site, so I’m not getting any money for all the traffic SugarSlam drives to my site. See those graphics under “Sponsors” on the right side of the site? Those are my friends’ businesses that I promote on my site for free.

SugarSlam Sponsors Donate Everything

Before I do anything to get ready for SugarSlam each year, I hand-pick cool, indie companies and designers and ask them to consider donating a prize to SugarSlam. Many of them do so simply because they love the idea of a pro-wrestling-themed bake off. Others hope that a few of you will click links to their sites and maybe buy something. But the cost of whatever prize they offer and shipping it to the winner(s) all comes out of their pockets.

I am Not a Judge

Nor have I ever been. When I put on the first SugarSlam in 2008 I immediately saw that there was going to be a conflict of interest if I judges – all the entries were from my friends! So I asked CM Punk to take on the task, and being a true heel, he chose a cupcake dedicated to himself. Oh, and incase you were wondering, the “grand” prize was a book of photos I’d taken, signed by Punk.

How the Judges Choose a Winner

I based his process on the way the winner of Threadcakes is chosen – each judge chooses his or her top five picks in rank order. The number one pick receives 5 points, number two pick 4 points, etc, down to the number five pick receiving 1 point. When all three judges send me their picks, I tally up the points. Last year Melissa’s Gorilla Monsoon cake scored a perfect 15 points, being the top pick of all three judges.

This year, two of the judges selected Nicole’s Kane piece as their top pick, while another ranked it number three (13 points) while Melissa’s Jake the Cake was ranked #1 by one judge, and number two by the others (13 points). I turned once again to my friend Punk. I sent him both photos and both descriptions – no names. I told him they were tied, and asked him to choose the one he felt deserved the title. He chose Nicole, and the tie was broken.

People bitched because at one point, early on in the competition, judge Justin Howard and myself encouraged Nicole to enter the contest via Twitter. I think it’s important to know that all of the judges and myself encouraged MANY people to enter the contest. Here’s another shocker for you, I personally invited two of my friends to enter via YouTube and they didn’t win!

So clearly, being invited to enter the contest by myself or any of the judges does not effect the outcome of the contest, nor does it sway the opinion of CM Punk, who ultimately broke the tie.

People’s Choice is Really Annoying

For last year’s contest I added a People’s Choice Award, and I have been regretting it ever since. Whereas I thought this would be a fun way to give another contestant a shot at victory, it turned out to be a giant popularity contest. I won’t name names, but if you go back and look through the 2011 gallery and posts you’ll see votes for some truly busted cakes. Not only that, but I was allowing people to vote on Flickr and on my blog, so I had to spend hours upon hours sorting through them all and tallying them up and trying to sort out the fakes and duplicates from the rest.

In the end, though, several of the contestants with low-scoring designs rallied around a design by the gal who ended up winning – Jessy. I thought it was really cool to see contestants actually telling their friends, “Don’t vote for my cake, vote for hers!” This year someone complained that I went to Jessy’s victory party last year, so please allow me to clear that up. Yes, I do know Jessy in real life. Most heavily tattooed moms in the Chicago area know each other, it’s a fact. She invited me to her victory party, which was part of her prize package, and I went. I don’t know this year’s champion Nicole, but she is also receiving a party as part of her prize and if she invites me, I will go to that too. So having me at your party after you have already won either because the judges or the people have voted for you, does not effect the outcome of the contest.

Why are There 15 Finalists?

As I sort of implied earlier, people will do almost anything to win free stuff. Even if it means pathetically cheating in a bake off. Originally I’d planned on selecting the five top-scoring designs from the Flickr gallery, and holding a final contest among those here on my site. However, when I started tallying up points (re-read the rules for voting here) there were dozens and dozens of comments that did not qualify. I actually considered disqualifying a few cakes because they had clearly been posting multiple comments from the same IP address, and in some cases, they didn’t even bother to change their user name to do so. 57 comments from WWEgurl4Evr, really? I’ll count one of those and delete the rest.

It got to the point where multiple entries were tied with the same amount of what I could only assume were valid votes. I couldn’t have five finalists because there were sets of two and three cakes that all had the same amount of points. So in the end, I included the 15 entries with the highest number of (what I hope are) valid votes. The final votes are being tallied on my site, automatically, by a plug-in that hopefully keep voting honest.

So that being said, please go vote for your favorite finalist! All of the contestants worked really hard and I wish they could all win prizes. Oh and FYI, I’ve never heard of the people who made the entries that are currently in places 1-4, so please don’t disrespect people I don’t even know with false accusations of cheating on my part.

Will There Be a SugarSlam IV?

I don’t know. I’m really sad about all the negativity surrounding this one. I created this contest to celebrate two of my favorite things, and up until this year it’s been awesome. All of the sudden people are accusing me of rigging it (what exactly I’m getting out of rigging the contest no one can seem to explain to me) and accusing the judges of being unfair. It’s just crappy. Not only is it rude to me, considering all the time and money I put into this thing, but it’s crazy disrespectful to everyone who enters and to our winners. Finally, the prize sponsors put their money and products on the line to give the winners something really cool to show for all their hard work – and when people are throwing around cheating accusations, it’s really cruddy for them.

Look, if I was going to rig the contest, the Sheikie Baby’s Hulk Hogan Raisin Balls would have won. That was my personal favorite entry and I am still considering sending the person who made it a t-shirt because it made me laugh. But the contest isn’t rigged, so let’s move on, shall we?

Thank you to all of this year’s judges, sponsors, contestants and fans.

- Natalie