LANSDOWNE, Pa. (WPVI) -- When Zakiyyah McKelven was asked to make a three-tiered cake for an upcoming wedding, it was nothing out of the ordinary for the Delaware County bakery owner.
But then a groom's cake was requested to their order, with one very specific source as inspiration: Gritty.
"I was highly amused. I'm not a big sports fan, but I'd recently seen memes popping up everywhere about this crazy looking mascot. We laughed about it and I agreed. So glad I did!" McKelven tells 6abc.com.
Gritty, the Philadelphia mascot that has caused Flyers fans to go through every emotion since his debut - anger, disgust, intrigue, and undeniable admiration - was now the muse for McKelven's next sweet creation.
"I Googled some images of Gritty and this picture popped up of a close up of his face. I giggled out loud so I knew that was the one I was going to use," McKelven said.
But what goes into a Gritty cake?
Some may say nightmares. Others might say laughter. McKelven went with buttercream with "some touches of fondant for detail."
"It was our classic chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream filling. The couple had already ordered vanilla, carrot cake and red velvet for their wedding cake. The husband wanted something chocolate, so the Gritty cake was it," McKelven said.
Don't tell Gritty, but he was not McKelven's main priority as the wedding approached. She wanted to make sure the wedding cake was all set for the reception this past Saturday.
"Funny enough, I'd spent more time on their wedding cake than I'd anticipated. I was running short on time so I quickly put the Gritty cake together in about 25 minutes. Surprisingly, it came out just as I'd expected in about half the time it would have normally taken. I snapped a few pics, boxed it up and delivered it and the wedding cake with a few minutes to spare," she said.
Though she didn't get to see the couple's reaction to the Gritty cake, she assumed they were very happy with it based on social media posts.
Will there be more Gritty cakes in her future? McKelven says she suspects so.
"I'm already getting inquiries for Gritty Halloween, Thanksgiving and birthday cakes. I plan to have Gritty cupcakes on the menu!" McKelven said.
McKelven has been in business for about three years. Prior to that, she was a home baker for years, learning her craft through YouTube videos.
"I never went to culinary school, as a matter of fact I dropped out of college because I couldn't decide what career path I wanted to take. I started baking as a hobby and it grew into a passion and then a business," McKelven said.
After renting space in other facilities, she said she was able to "snag the beautiful spot in the heart of Lansdowne business district that looked like it was pulled right out of my dreams."
Kia's Cakes and Café opened its doors on South Lansdowne Avenue last October.
"The road has been rocky (food pun intended), but it turns out, my two years as an art major still paid off. I started designing cakes with fondant about two years ago and it's been quite the journey. My Instagram is littered with a wide array of creations ranging from silly to realistic to trendy and child friendly," McKelven said.
Taking a look at McKelven's gallery of cakes proves Gritty is in good company. There's been cakes that resemble a taco, a Nikon camera, a piano, a suit and tie, and even a whole Chick-Fil-A meal!
"I have a phlebotomy teacher who orders a cake from me for each of her graduating classes. Those have gotten pretty crazy! I also designed a cake that was a pair of bamboo earrings which went viral on Twitter a couple months ago thanks to my cousin," McKelven said.
The fun is not stopping for this Delaware County baker. She says she has an Eagles wedding cake in the works for next month.
And though her cakes are going viral,
McKelven is still learning the ins and outs of Twitter to follow along as her cakes go viral. She remains grounded as her works of edible art gain internet fame.
"One of the greatest parts of this journey has been the love and support of the local Lansdowne community. Their encouragement, patronage and inclusion has played a major role in how well and how quickly I've been able to grow. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention them," McKelven said.
And thank you, Gritty, too, of course.
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