A Scientist Figured Out the Perfect Way To Cut a Cake—in 1906

A method from 1906 shows the perfect way to cut a cake—if you don’t mind putting rubber bands around your confection

You're doing it wrong. Nikouline/photocuisine/Corbis

Thanks to science, we already know the ideal way to eat a hamburger. But science, it turns out, has also given humanity an ideal way to cut a cake. 

This cute video (created by Brady Haran and narrated by Alex Bellos) describes a century-old letter, published in the journal Nature, by noted scientist Francis Galton.

It remains unclear if Galton wrote this 1906 letter-to-the-editor out of genuine concern for stale cake (and because he wanted all his peers to know that they were Doing It Wrong) or if this was the result of a Victorian-era bet: "I bet I can get Nature to publish an article about Cake" "You're on."    

Either way, the letter, titled "Cutting a Round Cake on Scientific Principles," included diagrams showing that the best way to cut a cake. It is this: cut a slice straight through the middle of the cake. Then, push the resulting halves together. Bind them with a rubber band placed around the edges of the cake. Voila, your cake is now tasty and fresh, even 24 hours later. 

Should you do this at your next party? Probably not. As Bellos explains in the video, this method really works best when you’re expecting a lot of leftovers. Which means, yes, you should buy that tasty-looking cake...all for yourself. 

Also, as Slate points out, there are some other situations where this might be less than ideal: 

This might not work as well on a gloppily frosted cake, or one festooned with excessive 3-D decorations. A rubber band might simply dig into the flesh of an ungarnished cake. But the cutting method itself is a sensible idea that could also work even more simply on a loaf pan cake, from which slices could be taken from the middle, the two ends pushed together between servings, or a square pan of cake cut into strips and small squares from the middle, not the ends.

Another solution? Invite a few friends over. Teamwork will have that cake gone in no time, no matter how you slice it. 

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