You’ll Cringe at How Much Bacteria Is Spread When You Blow Out Your Birthday Candles

After these findings, your next birthday might not be as happy.

The history of blowing out birthday cake candles is a storied one. Some say the tradition originated in ancient Greece, and some say it dates back to 18th-century Germany. Studies show that the average American has one birthday per year, so we can be sure of one thing: you’re going to blow out birthday candles around 78.74 times in your life.

A constant threat for getting ill, that is. According to a new study from the Journal of Food Research, blowing out the candles on a birthday cake causes an increase in bacteria on the icing by 1400 percent. Wowza!


The process through which the researchers acquired the results was an interesting one. First, they made a fake cake, using a Styrofoam base. Next, they spread a layer of foil across the “cake” and then placed birthday candles into the base. And finally, they asked study participants to eat some pizza (appropriate, but not well explained in the study), then blow out the “cake.”

The Creative Inquiry Program at Clemson University conducted the study using 11 subjects, and replicated the results three times, resulting in 33 total observations.

So what does this all mean? It shouldn’t ruin any future birthday party, if that’s your concern. As Paul Dawson, one of the authors on the study, explains, “It’s not a big health concern in my perspective. In reality if you did this 100,000 times, then the chance of getting sick would probably be very minimal.”

There you have it: Go on and blow out those candles! (Just maybe throw in some antibacterial in the gift bags.)

Source: The Atlantic 

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