Real or Fake?




Lately there has been a bunch of buzz about knock-offs in the cake industry. A lot of buzz. You may be thinking to yourself, “Who cares if it is a knock-off? It’s the same product for a fraction of the price!” That’s not taking into account the entire picture though…

Chef Nicholas Lodge, and most other cake product designers, are dedicated to the craft of cake decorating and sugar arts. They are pioneers of the field and there is a reason why people want to take their classes and emulate their designs. Instead of keeping their design processes as closely guarded secrets, these selfless people have carefully crafted products to offer to the cake decorating community. These products are often designed with every consideration, first and foremost: FOOD SAFETY. The molds, mats, plunger cutters, gumpaste cutters, and cookie cutters are made with materials that meet all food grade standards issued by the United States FDA.

Knock-off products made in Asian countries and sold on places like Amazon or dubious Facebook pages may not be made with food grade materials. One well known example is the silicone mats and molds, Most often these are sold in a pink silicone which IS NOT FOOD GRADE SILICONE. Oh, you read that right. Most pink silicone knock-off cake decorating products are made with a material that is NOT SAFE for use with food. Let’s mull on that for a moment, shall we?

Many cake decorators are small business owners, and would like to run a cost effective business. That is very understandable. In an effort to save money, instead of buying a Katy Sue Designs Silicone Mat from Chef Nicholas’ website (a licensed and approved distributor of Katy Sue Designs Products), I find a knock-off on Amazon for less money. The fakey-sue pink silicone mat arrives, and I wash my new cake toy and begin using to make design elements for cakes for customers. Cakes that presumably people will be eating. And, that is a huge problem, because you are using a product that is UNSAFE to be used with food. Ethically speaking, it could be very problematic to be selling food products made with potentially dangerous products. So yes, these products may be very cost effective, but at a price. If you are picky about the ingredients you put INTO your cake, then you should be just as picky about the products you use to decorate your cake.

Next up- quality. Yes, I mentioned that many of the products (the silicones and perhaps even some of the hard plastic tools) are made with materials that do not meet food safety standards, nor made with food grade materials. Plastic plunger cutters made by these knock-off sellers are often made with very brittle plastic that can snap or break easily. Well, you aren’t going to be saving money if the cheaper products break and need replacing frequently. What if a small piece were to break off into your cake, and is found by a client? That will certainly affect your business. 

Chef Nicholas has all of his gumpaste flower cutters manufactured in the UK, using tin plated steel, and non-toxic (lead free) solder; the company does this to to ensure that all of their products are food safe. They are made specifically to be used in cake decorating and sugar arts. Chef Nicholas has seen knock-offs of these cutters; these are cheaply made, susceptible to rust, and may not meet food safety standards (especially if the solder has lead in it! Lead is highly poisonous!). These metal cutters and the plastic plunger cutters are often made poorly with little attention to detail; the detail is usually subpar and the edges are rough and uneven.

Another issue with quality is tied to what medium you will be using in these knock-offs. Many of our ISAC fans know and love Sidney Galpern of Simi Cakes and Confections. Sidney recently found knock-offs of her products (as well as many other products ripped off from a multitude of other cake artists) on a questionable Facebook page claiming to be a business selling original designs. Sidney found ALL of her sculpture mats on this page. These mats, designed by Sidney, were listed as the original designs of this business… interesting since the knock-off mats even preserved the simicakes.com logo! I am getting a bit off topic, let me back up to quality issues. If you know Sidney, you know that isomalt is her preferred medium, and that she designs products specifically for use with isomalt (though they are often compatible with gumpaste, rolled fondant, and chocolate). Isomalt is heated to a very high temperature and can be molded into shapes that dry hard. Sidney created her silicone sculpture mats specifically to be compatible with the extremely high temperatures of working with isomalt, not to mention safe to use with kitchen torches. Smart, right? She designed a unique, thoughtful, and food-safe product. What if you buy one of these fake sculpture mats? Well, maybe you pour your burning hot isomalt into the mat, and the cheapy silicone melts all over your counter top? Or what if you or a client gets sick because it’s not food grade silicone, and the high heat of the isomalt has compromised the integrity of the silicone?

This is no joke my friends. If these companies lie about designing the products, why wouldn’t they lie about being distributors for these products, food safety, quality standards, and lead-free solder?

Most of these products are obviously the stolen intellectual property of different cake decorators and designers. Many of whom teach their classes all over the world. Most, if not ALL, of these sugar artists are small business owners. They invest their time and money, not to mention their creativity and ingenuity, into these products. Products that are designed just for you- their consumers. Buying knock-off products is detrimental to the entire sugar arts ecosystem! You buy a knock-off from China, the Chinese company and manufacturer get the money. Ok, fine. China has a right to do business. But what happens here? A multitude of things could happen.

Cake product designers stop designing new and innovative products. Cake product designers could go out of business. Cake product designers no longer purchase from their manufacturers, and the manufactures stop creating cake products, and their business suffer. Cake product designers no longer offer classes, demos, or vendor booths at cake and sugar arts show. Cake shows and conventions cease to exist.

You may think this sounds fatalistic, but these knock-off companies are relentless. Sidney confronted the company that claimed to be the designer of HER product mats and she was successful in having the company remove her items, for now. Sidney is rightfully concerned that another Facebook or Instagram or Amazon company will be selling them tomorrow. Chef Nicholas was incensed when a vendor at a recent cake show was selling knock-offs of the products he had been demonstrating at the show. Many watched his demo then walked away and bought the knock-off items from a vendor not licensed to sell the original product. Molly, our very own customer service specialist, says that she has had people come into our store and complain that our propriety products are way more expensive then the “pink silicone molds” they can find online. Despite Molly explaining that these products are pirated and that they may not be safe to use, some customers do leave our store with the intention of buying these knock-offs. It is very disheartening to see and cope with, especially when people look to you for your wonderfully creative ideas then buy from a company who steals your intellectual property… rememeber some of these products take years and LOTS of money to develop. 

Consumers want these cake decorating tools, and they respect their designers. Yet, they are willing to leave these designers behind to purchase knock-offs. Listen, I have a fake Louis Vuitton in my closet that I bought back in college. I’m guilty of buying knock-offs myself, and I’m not saying it was right. But the rate and relentlessness of these disreputable companies can have a lasting negative affect on our cake decorating community. These products are sold at a low cost because they are not manufactured with food safe materials- if they were, the price would likely match the original product’s price point.

If you are a consumer who does care about the quality of your products, you still need to be wary. There are some knock-off companies who have even sunken to the level of color copying the exact packaging and labeling! This means that even a thoughtful consumer may not realize they have purchased a knock-off! When Chef Nicholas told me that this has happened to Katy Sue Designs, I was speechless. To make exact copies of the packaging is a pretty bold move.
If you want to be sure that you are buying an original product, there are plenty of ways to check. Many designers and companies use custom colored silicone molds (obviously, Chef Nicholas has bright green. Sidney Galpern’s signature colors are blue or yellow.), if it’s pink, it is likely a fake. You can contact vendors to ask if they are licensed to carry products by a certain company (ISAC is licensed to sell Katy Sue Design products). The global cake community is close-knit; you could simply call or email a company and 1- buy direct, or 2- ask for a list of their approved vendors (many companies may even have this information on their website).

There is a bright spot in this story (I know, this blog is much darker than my usual tone!). First of all, the cake community, while global, is a close and tightly knit community, as I mentioned before. Sidney had a HUGE outpouring of support once people knew that knock-offs of her sculpture mats were being sold. The community banded together, many people confronted the business that was illegally selling copies of her intellectual property. As I said earlier, the company relented and took her products down. A big thank you to all of you who supported Sidney and questioned that particular business on her behalf.

And there is more good news. Many cake shows, both in the US and the UK, know that cake product designers and vendors are upset over the recent influx of fake products. More than a few of these shows are opening dialogue with product designers and vendors to ensure that products sold in their vendor booths are original products and are being sold by approved vendors. Cake International has added guidelines that includes language stating, “Any exhibitor found to be selling counterfeit or unlicensed products may be removed from the event and will not be allowed to exhibit at future ICHF events.”

That right there, my friends, is community solidarity. Hopefully this is the type of thing that many cake shows will adopt in practice, not to mention conventions and Days of Sharing. We can all work together to slow down and hopefully halt these terrible, and quite frankly dangerous (in some cases) knock-off products.
Support small businesses that make high quality cake decorating products, just as you ask your clients to opt for high quality cakes. Be thoughtful about what you buy and where. ISAC has been in business for over 25 years because we respect and love our clients and always provide the absolute best when it comes to cake decorating needs. We hope you understand why Chef Nicholas and others are shaken and upset by the counterfeit products. And of course, we hope you choose not to buy these products, and instead choose to support the small businesses that make up a big part of our cake decorating family.

Speaking of stealing, I totally stole the image for this blog from Sidney! It was for the greater good! 

There are still seats available in these great classes this summer at ISAC! Click the links below to register now. 

Hanging Handbag with Mayen Orido

The Boombox Cake with Mayen Orido

Renshaw Academy Sugar Flower Module

5-Day Ultimate Gumpaste Flower Class

Tea Party Pastries with Joseph Cumm, 8/25

Tea Party Pastries with Joseph Cumm, 8/26

Sweetly yours, 


Nicholas Lodge Amazon

Our goal is for you to be completely satisfied with your Amazon order! If for any reason this is not the case, we would appreciate it if you would give us a chance to address your concerns, before leaving feedback or a review, by emailing us at customersvc@nicholaslodge.com. We would be grateful if you would leave us a positive feedback and review of your Renshaw Fondant. Leaving feedback seems like such a little thing, but it has great impact on our business and we would greatly appreciate your time in leaving it.

2017 Finalist Cake Masters Awards Cake Hero

2017 Finalist for the Cake Masters Cake Hero Award

WINNER of the 2017 Golden Tier Educator of the Year Award


Winner of the 2015 Craftsy Blogger Award for Best Craftsy Cake Decorating Instructor Blog

Chef Nicholas Lodge: 2015 Finalist for the Cake Masters Cake Hero Award




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