Birthday Kids Blowing Out Candles

When I was a little kid, around 1954, I wound up going to birthday parties of various other little kids.

I noticed something that really bothered me then, and even more later on after I grew up!

I noticed that a lot of little kids would want to make sure to blow out all the candles on the birthday cake, and so they would get lots of air in their lungs, and send out a blast of air to try to blow out the candles. Since they were all young, there were very few candles, and every kid always blew out all of them.

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But what I noticed was that in the effort to blow all the air possible, most of the kids seemed to also send out a spray of saliva in the air blast. So a good deal of saliva wound up landing in the icing of the cake!

Even though I LOVE cake and especially icing, it was hard for me to want to receive a piece of cake which just got sprayed with a kid's saliva! The best I could do was to hang back and be the last kid to get cake, so I could try to get a piece which was INSIDE the cake! This was even though I really LOVED icing (and still do!)

As a little kid, I was bothered by the fact that the cake icing got SLIMED by the birthday kid.

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But after I got to be an adult, I was aware that if the birthday kid had a cold or some disease (or in the modern world, even AIDS or HIV) then such spraying could SPREAD that cold or disease to the others at the birthday party.

Even as a kid, I noticed that NO adults seemed to ever have a piece of the birthday cake! I thought that was so that kids could have all the cake. Now, I am not so sure! Do the adults know about this saliva spraying issue and the possibility of catching some disease or a cold in that way?

After I became an adult, I learned that kids catch most of the colds they get from other kids in school classes. A kid coughs or SNEEZES and whatever cold or disease he or she might have gets into the air of the classroom, and other kids catch it. Teachers also get a LOT of colds, and it is commonly believed that they catch most of them from sick students.

So, my thinking about kids and birthday cakes and spraying saliva, seems just as solid today as when I was a kid, although for slightly different reasons.


This presentation was first placed on the Internet in April 2012.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago