As Maryland’s official state dessert, Smith Island Cake is a standout dish on any chef’s table. Now, the famed cake is set to receive a new sign marker in recognition of its historical significance.
Smith Island United was recently awarded a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, whose mission is supporting and celebrating the preservation of community history. The Pomeroy Foundation, through the Hungry for History Program, is funding a new sign marker for the Smith Island Cake.
Traditionally, the scrumptious cake consists of eight to 10 layers of yellow cake with chocolate frosting between each layer and slathered over the whole. Smith Island, the last inhabited island in Maryland without a connection to the mainland, is home to the State Dessert.
The Hungry for History Program recognizes food history by telling the story of local and regional food specialties. The program is designed to commemorate significant food dishes that have played a role in defining American culture and forging community identity.
In order to qualify, the authentic food must be at least 50 years old. Since the cake was not officially documented prior to the second printing of Mrs. Kitching’s Smith Island Cookbook, the request was initially denied.
The Beach to Bay Heritage Area stepped in to assist with completing the successful application, which included handwritten letters from Smith Island bakers Mary Ada Marshall and Janice Marshall.
The letters told the story of their memories of helping to bake the cakes with their grandmothers and mothers, clearly placing the cake’s history well beyond the 50-year mark.
The marker is said to read:
SMITH ISLAND CAKE PROCLAIMED MARYLAND STATE DESSERT IN 2008, THE 8-10 LAYER CAKE HAS BEEN A TRADITION ON THIS ISLAND SINCE CA. 1900. WILLIAM G. POMEROY FOUNDATION 2023.
The sign marker will be erected in front of the Smith Island Cultural Center located on 20846 Caleb Jones Road in the village of Ewell.
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