Bakery Censors ‘Summa Cum Laude’ On Homeschool Grad’s Cake

A homeschool family in South Carolina was quite surprised with their graduate’s cake they ordered from Publix. The  cake was ordered to celebrate her son’s graduation from a Christian-based homeschool program with a 4.89 grade point average.

Mom, Cara Koscinski, ordered the $70 cake to celebrate her son’s academic achievement. She requested the Publix bakery to write “Summa Cum Laude” on his cake. Summa Cum Laude is Latin and means “With Highest Honors.” Jacob Koscinski, her son, had just graduated from the Lowcountry Christian Home Educators Association. Cara, his mom, says Jacob has worked really hard for his 4.7 GPA and she wanted to recognize those high honors by displaying “Summa Cum Laude” on Jacob’s graduation cake. She says, “I ordered the cake online, and I ordered it Thursday night from the Publix website, and they immediately said “censored” when I went to hit the submit button. So I redid it because I didn’t know what word would be censored. And it still didn’t accept it because it had the three letters, c-u-m in it.” She says she tried to explain in the comment section where she explained that she wasn’t trying to order a vulgar cake and the word is Latin. The algorithm in the online ordering system considered the request to have profanity. Koscinski says, “That’s what I said in the comments. We’re homeschoolers, we know what that means, and we’re not using it in that way. We’re using it in a way to celebrate that he’s graduating and I wrote in quotes, “with highest honors”, so I even translated it for them.” She says the day of the graduation party, she called to check on the cake. She says, “When they read it to me they couldn’t pronounce the words, but it sounded fine.” When his dad picked up the cake prior to the graduation party, he didn’t check the cake, not realizing the drama with the order placement. They realized that Publix had censored the word after they had returned home.

Ironically, that is not what Publix wrote on the graduation cake. Publix claimed the word in the middle is profane so instead they used dashes…  so the cake read “Summa — Laude”.  Koscinski says, “It was humiliating and funny at the same time, but definitely shocking.”

When Cara, Jacob’s mom, contacted the manager, “The manager of Publix seemed not to know what that word meant either. It’s not like I made a request that hasn’t been made before. Jacob can’t be the first student to graduate with honors.” When Koscinski complained the next day to the Publix assistant manager, they offered to remake the cake. She declined, telling the assistant manager, “You only graduate once.”

The Koscinski family thought the whole incident was embarrassing at the time, but now they just laugh about it. The family stated that when they returned to the store, the manager did apologize and give the family a $150 Publix gift card.


News 2 reached out to Publix Supermarkets for a statement. The company’s Media Relations Manager, Kim Reynolds, says, “Satisfying our customers is our top priority. You can feel confident that this situation has been addressed, and the appropriate business areas and leaders are involved.”

There are so many things I could say … but I think I’ll just leave it right here.

It’s ironic don’t you think? What would you have done if this was your cake for your son?


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  1. What I would have done is order the cake in person to make sure they understood what it meant. Then if they had still messed it up, I would have been happy with the gift card since it was for more than the cake cost.

    1. Yes. If an online algorithm makes a mistake, I’m not going to assume the humans are any better. I’m marching down there to make SURE they understand and get my order right.

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