Recipes For Grown Ups

A Sweet Memory: My Mother’s Coca-Cola Cake

After moving to a new home in a new city, I found myself rummaging through my mother’s old recipe box, a treasure trove of culinary nostalgia. I was unsure what I would find, but among the worn and weathered clippings, some handwritten with love, others typed on a clunky manual typewriter, I unearthed a delightful piece of my childhood — my mother’s Coca-Cola Cake. 

In the age of Pinterest-perfect desserts and artisanal ingredients, my mom’s recipe was neither. It was so much more in my mind — a rare find, a memory-filled gasp of unexpected pleasure.

As I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, my mother was the epitome of the quintessential home cook. Dinners were a symphony of casseroles, Jell-O salads, and her pièce de resistance — the Coca-Cola Cake. 

A dessert that transcended the boundaries of family gatherings and potluck dinners, this cake was my mother’s fail-proof sweet treat, always leaving a lasting impression.

As I carefully unfolded the stained recipe card, I couldn’t help but notice the ingredients that were a testament to the cooking norms of that era. Included in the recipe were oleo and Crisco, two components that have lost their charm in today’s health-conscious and organic-focused kitchens. 

Determined to bring the essence of my mother’s era into the present, I updated her Coca-Cola Cake recipe with butter and buttermilk, opting for more contemporary and wholesome ingredients, reflecting a natural food approach. 

As I mixed and measured, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of rebellion against the rules of the times my mother abided by. Would the revamped Coca-Cola Cake live up to the fond memories etched in my mind?

With trepidation, I took my revised creation to a recent dinner party, eager to share a piece of my heritage. The familiar aroma filled the room when I sliced the cake, triggering precious memories of Sunday suppers and special occasions. 

The first bite transported me back to a simpler time when taste reigned supreme over dietary fads.

To my delight, the cake was everything I remembered — moist, decadent, and undeniably delicious. 

The enduring combination of Coca-Cola, cocoa, mini marshmallows, and a touch of Southern charm had stood the test of time, transcending generations and culinary trends.

As I told the story of my mother’s Coca-Cola Cake at the dinner party, I couldn’t help but appreciate how it effortlessly bridged the gap between the past and present. 

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Violet enjoying the Coca-Cola cake. | Photo by Sharon Kurtz

Eager to share my joy, I baked it again and introduced the cake to my granddaughter, Violet. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words — and in this case, her crumb-filled face made me smile. It’s a beautiful continuation of a tradition, passing down the recipe to yet another generation.

In a time where there’s a constant pursuit of the next big trend, the most delightful surprises often lie in the everlasting charm of tried-and-true recipes. 

Here’s to my mother, the unsung hero of the 60s and 70s kitchen, and her beloved Coca-Cola Cake — a dessert that continues to evoke the warmth and nostalgia of years gone by, one delicious bite at a time. CLICK HERE to get the recipe.


Sharon Kurtz

Sharon Kurtz is a freelance writer and photographer. Her passion is travel, telling stories, and tussling with her four-legged friends. As a baby boomer who loves adventure, she welcomes opportunities to share stories of people, places, food, and flavors around the corner or around the world. A regular contributor to fyi50+ Magazine, she's published 200 articles in various digital and print publications. Austin, Texas, is home with her husband and three spoiled dogs when not searching out new adventures. You can follow her travels on Instagram and Facebook.

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