According to Wikipedia, the term “cake” was derived from the Old Norse word “kaka”. In the old times, a cake is normally fried breads or cheesecakes that were shaped like a disk. But now, cakes are usually baked with icing of different flavors and some sweetened flower decorations that are often served in different sizes and shapes.
There are countless cake recipes that is time and again the dessert of choice for meals at ceremonial occasions, particularly weddings, anniversaries, and birthdays. Although cake is not a native Filipino delicacy, what we have in our homeland are unique creations of baked goodies – both home-made and commercially produced.
Our all-time favorites might be Red Ribbon and/or Goldilocks but even before these businesses arose top the charts in the market, there have been households already baking their way to local stardom- Mer-Nel’s Place (Cake) is one of them.
Mernel’s Cake House was founded by the couple Nelson and Merle Balicao. With the initial investment of P800, Nelson and Merle started the business in the early 70s. Her wide experience as a baker and cake decorator and his able assistance brought the demand for their banana and chiffon cakes.
During a Valentine’s Day celebration in 1980, Mer-Nels finally had a big break when the Association of Secretaries in the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) placed a big order for heart-shaped cakes. Through referrals and recommendations from satisfied customers, Mernel’s has become a byword for its cakes in the area. To accommodate more clients, it opened more branches in the Los Banos area. They also built Mernel’s Food House, which offers catering services.
The popularity of Mer-Nels’ cakes have spread through family after family and town after town. Though articles and blogs were unpopular at that time, they were able to reach Manila and other neighboring towns through visiting relatives and friends.
Way back some years ago, the “Mer-Nels” cake was introduced to me. Their tagline -”Home of the Famous Chocolate Cakes” really catches attention especially food critics. I must say, this cake really is one of a kind. I don’t know how and why its chocolate icing is far different from other chocolate cakes. It is really sweet and chocolaty but not to the extent that it will bring you “umay.” By the way, it is also a little milky and salty.
Mer-Nel’s cakes at first glimpse looks just like simple cakes but once you taste it, you will never forget it. I will not wonder when someday, Mer-Nels will have different branches across the archipelago. Locally made food like this, deserves to be patronized by the Filipinos. Yes! Tangkilikin at Mahalin ang Sariling Atin!