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In March 1971, President Richard M. Nixon announced the engagement of his daughter Patricia to Edward Cox. The details of the wedding preparations soon appeared in newspapers. As the June date drew closer, media attention began to focus on the wedding cake.

White House Chef Henry Haller and his colleagues, White House Pastry Chef Heinz Bender and New York pastry specialist Maurice Bonté, were now in the spotlight. The cake was to be a marvel of engineering and enchantment. Its base layer would be at table height, and feature the intertwined first initials of the couple. The confection was to soar to a height of close to seven feet.

Henry Haller served as spokesman for the White House kitchen as the cake became an ever more prominent news feature. At the beginning of June, the White House released a recipe for a scaled-down version of the cake. Food writers for major U.S. newspapers tried the recipe, and announced that the batter overflowed the pan.1 Haller stayed up late testing and retesting the cake formula, and declared the recipe to be accurate.2

Haller, Bender, and Bonte had reason to celebrate on June 12, 1971. The Nixon-Cox wedding cake was picture-perfect.3

Henry Haller and Maurice Bonté with the Nixon-Cox wedding cake, June 12, 1971.

Library of Congress

Footnotes & Resources

  1. Sarah Booth Conroy, "Cake Mess?" Washington Post, June 3, 1971: B1; Raymond A. Sokolov, "Warning! It May Not Work," New York Times, June 2, 1971: 36.
  2. Raymond Sokolov, "The Great Cake Controversy, Continued: The Making (and Then Remaking) of a Recipe, Step by Step." New York Times, June 4, 1971: 17.
  3. James M. Naughton, "The President and the Cake Pass Tests," New York Times, June 13, 1971: 76.

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