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Whole Foods’ Berry Chantilly Cake is 20 years old — but it’s having a viral moment now

“These layers? Immaculate,” one TikToker says about the cult-favorite cake. “It is like a hug.”
The Berry Chantilly Cake from Whole Foods.
The Berry Chantilly Cake from Whole Foods.Courtesy Whole Foods

The Berry Chantilly Cake from Whole Foods has been around for nearly 20 years, but it’s recently reached viral status on social media.

“I’ve always been able in a big city just to be able to walk in and get it. The berries to cream ratio is also perfect and these layers? Immaculate,” says TikToker @jessicawantsanap in one of hundreds of odes to Whole Foods’ Berry Chantilly Cake on social media. “It is like a hug.”

But what is Chantilly cake, exactly?

The grocery chain’s version of the cake consists of layers of vanilla cake, fresh berries and Chantilly cream frosting. It’s proven so popular, the cake is now made in full-size, mini-size, cupcake and by-the-slice versions.

The origins of Chantilly cream — a sweetened, whipped vanilla cream and the basis for the cake’s signature frosting — are debated. One theory suggests it was invented by chef Francois Vatel in the 1670s during a banquet at the Château de Chantilly, while earlier writings indicate that it existed far earlier, possibly as early as the 1500s.

Back in the present, the Chantilly cake has become a bit of an obsession online. TikTokers the country over have been consistently singing the Whole Foods dessert’s praises — to the tune of over 30 million views on the hashtag #berrychantillycake and tens of millions more on #wholefoodscake and #chantillycake.

The supermarket cake has famously appeared at birthday celebrations, cheered people up and solved marital woes. Some have even gone so far as to call it “the best cake in the world.”

But Whole Foods isn’t the only grocery chain selling the cake. Publix, Sam’s Club and Trader Joe’s make their own versions, which have garnered plenty of public praise, too.

TJ’s Chantilly Cream Vanilla Bean Mini Sheet Cake, which retails for under $6, has its own fierce fandom, with Reddit users and TikTokers stunned to silence by its magnificence. The 18-ounce cake, which combines “moist, flavorful cake with smooth vanilla buttercream frosting,” per the company, has some people calling it their “death row meal.”

To procure the cake for myself, I had to visit Trader Joe’s three times before I could get my hands on one. The second time I went, a helpful employee told me when the cakes’ shipping day was, so at 8 a.m. on a Saturday I finally secured it — but even then, there were only two left by the time I got there.

First introduced to TJ’s stores in Southern California in 2015, the cake broadened its sugary footprint to stores across the country three years later — and, according to the company, “It’s been a hit with customers around the country, likely owing to its versatility,” a Trader Joe’s representative tells TODAY.com. “It’s small and simple enough to enjoy as a special treat anytime, while also impressive enough to serve at an intimate dinner party. We’ve also heard of customers layering several of these cakes to make an even more impressive cake for birthdays and other celebrations.”

But despite the popularity of TJ’s take on the dessert, it has a long way to go before it can reach the cult status of Whole Foods’ version.

“Many are unaware of the noteworthy history of Whole Foods Market’s now infamous Berry Chantilly Cake,” Natalie Dunham, a member of the bakery category team for Whole Foods Market, tells TODAY.com. “The cake first made its debut at Whole Foods Market’s Arabella Station store in New Orleans about two decades ago.”  

Dunham tells us that a team member developed the recipe and it became an “instant hit” with customers. After Hurricane Katrina, a team members relocated to Houston and brought the recipe with them, and the cake began to garner its cult following outside of Louisiana. 

“The cake is now a staple at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide and is still the #1 cake flavor west of the Mississippi where our stores might see hundreds of Berry Chantilly orders during holiday weeks!” she says.

Chaya Conrad, the inventor of Whole Foods’ Berry Chantilly Cake, had no idea the dessert would catch on the way it did.

“You never know what’s gonna take off. I mean, you know, it’s not like I made up the idea of whipped cream and berries. It’s a classic combination,” Conrad tells TODAY.com. “You look up these videos and they have like a million views or stuff. It’s crazy, just this humble little cake, you know?”

Conrad did, however, come up with a unique recipe for the icing in the Chantilly cake: a combination of whipped cream, almond flavoring and mascarpone cheese, which she says helps to stabilize the frosting and keep it from melting.

“I took inspiration from something that my grandmother used to make,” she says. “People get tired of buttercream because it’s so sweet, so it’s a nice, light, refreshing thing to eat.”

Chaya Conrad, owner of Bywater Bakery in New Orleans, works on a Berry Chantilly Cake
Chaya Conrad, owner of Bywater Bakery in New Orleans, works on a Berry Chantilly Cake on June 5, 2023.C. Ross / Getty Images

Conrad, who now owns and runs Bywater Bakery in New Orleans, is delighted that something she created early in her career is still so beloved.

“I get so much joy out of just seeing people enjoying it. I just want to see it go far and wide and see people enjoy it. That makes me happy. I don’t need the credit,” Conrad says. “I mean, it’s kind of cool that it’s come around, but it’s not like I was trying to get credit for it.”