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Home Town Cake

12 Cakes That Look Like Fast Food Specialties

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Home Town Cake

These cakes look they should be served out of a drive-through window.

1 & 2. McDonald's

McDonald's is the largest fast food chain in the world, so it shouldn’t be surprising that there are more McDonald’s cakes out there than any other fast food company. The impressive Home Town Cake version of a Big Mac and fries above was made for a McDonald’s grand opening, but there are lots of homemade creations, too.

Take, for example, this sweet treat, which was created by Cake Central user amberhoney for her 8-year-old nephew’s birthday. The French fry box and cup are both real McDonald’s props, but the fries are made from marzipan and the soda cup is actually filled with cola-flavored Jell-O. The burger is made from chocolate fudge.

While this McDonald’s meal might not look quite as realistic as the other two above, it does have the unique distinction of containing a drinkable soda. While Cake Central user Corikiky didn’t say any specifics about the cake, it appears to be for a crew meeting, which means that McDonald’s location really wanted to get the team inspired.

3. Fatburger

Fatburger might not be as popular as McDonald’s, but if this cake—created by Colette’s Cakes—is any indication, the company certainly has its legions of fans.

4. Whataburger

This impressively realistic-looking Whataburger cake by Cake Central user sherylshirley is made of a snickerdoodle cake for buns, a brownie for a meat patty and is served with pound cake fries. The whole thing has me ready to exclaim “Whatacake!”

5 & 6. Subway

Most people know that any amazing looking cake is made using fondant, but if you’re wondering how someone goes about getting such perfect coloration on a Subway sandwich cake, the secret is an airbrush. And this cake proves that Danielle Irby is a true master when it comes to airbrushing confections into a work of art (or a sandwich, as the situation may require).

This three-foot long cake was made by Cake Central user milmil95 for a Subway franchise owner’s birthday. It looked so real that the birthday boy was actually bummed out to see his friends just got him a sub sandwich for his birthday and he didn’t believe it was a cake until someone cut it.

7 & 8. KFC

A lot of the KFC cakes out there either incorporate actual buckets from the chain or at least the logo printed out on edible paper. So Laura Loukaides’ cake shows an amazing amount of skill and ingenuity: She actually painted and cut the design into fondant as she created her own bucket. And the chicken looks pretty real too—though not as extra crispy as many KFC fans like it.

Admittedly, the chicken and fries inside these KFC boxes aren’t quite as realistic looking as the one above, but the corn and beans look pretty spot on and the presentation—using a number of KFC boxes—makes this sweet assortment a pretty delightful tribute to the chicken restaurant. Cake Central user kerplunksky made these goodie boxes for a friend to give to her husband on Valentine’s Day. The fries, corn kernels and  chicken bones are made with fondant. The popcorn chicken is just rice krispie treats. The beans are Jelly Bellies covered in a gel glaze, and the chicken is butter cream frosting dipped in cookie crumbs.

9 & 10. Pizza Hut

While there are a lot of pizza cakes out there, one of the hardest parts is getting to make it look realistic—especially with all those nice colors the cheese gets as it bakes. This pizza by Cake Central user Barbend gets around that problem by looking like a pizza that is just about ready to be popped into the oven. It’s a fun way to celebrate a Pizza Hut employee's birthday.

Sure, kids love pizza—but they really, really love cake. So just imagine the pleasant surprise on the face of the little girls who got to eat this great cake from Julia of Cake You Up. Julia actually cooked the cake in a pizza pan and then served it in a Pizza Hut box. The pepperoni is candy melts.

11. Taco Bell

This might just be the most realistic taco cake ever made. What’s even more fantastic is that it comes with a Big Bell Meal Box and salsa—both of which are totally edible. This impressive combo meal of cake was created by Jenni Blackburn of Crème de la Crème Cakery.

12. Chipotle

Those who prefer Chipotle over Taco Bell in the burrito wars will almost certainly prefer this 3D cake version of a Chipotle burrito. As if showing the layers of beans, lettuce, and rice wasn’t enough, Elaine of Enticing Cake Boutique even perched the whole thing on a pile of fondant tortilla chips.

Of course, the true measure of any cake is how it tastes, so the real question here is: do any of these actually taste like the fast food concoctions they are aspiring to look like? Let’s hope the answer is no.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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iStock
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Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
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iStock

When you get an incoming call to your iPhone, the options that light up your screen aren't always the same. Sometimes you have the option to decline a call, and sometimes you only see a slider that allows you to answer, without an option to send the caller straight to voicemail. Why the difference?

A while back, Business Insider tracked down the answer to this conundrum of modern communication, and the answer turns out to be fairly simple.

If you get a call while your phone is locked, you’ll see the "slide to answer" button. In order to decline the call, you have to double-tap the power button on the top of the phone.

If your phone is unlocked, however, the screen that appears during an incoming call is different. You’ll see the two buttons, "accept" or "decline."

Either way, you get the options to set a reminder to call that person back or to immediately send them a text message. ("Dad, stop calling me at work, it’s 9 a.m.!")

[h/t Business Insider]

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