As we approached Independence Day, the time finally came to transport our creation to the nation's birthplace, Philadelphia. Five of Sara Lee's white fleet trucks were decorated for the occasion with a red-white-and-blue birthday cake graphic and loaded with chocolate cake, royal icing paintings (each carefully crated), and the cake's superstructure. The convoy was led by a white van, decorated to match the trucks and driven by yours truly. We took off from Deerfield (outside Chicago) and headed for Toledo, the first of five stops along the way. Over three days we had scheduled press receptions in Toledo, Cleveland, Youngstown, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg, and it was my job to lead the convoy and conduct the press conferences. At each stop we drew a small crowd. I made a brief presentation, passed out press kits, and showed off a scale model of the cake.

President medallionsThe road trip was my first experience with truckers and CB radios, and I swear I laughed all the way. We drew plenty of attention on the road, and our story was well covered. Other truckers and CB-ers were constantly asking "Is that the big cake I heard about?" One driver said our convoy of white trucks looked so pretty, like pearls on a string moving down the highway.

Spirit of 1776We pulled up at our destination—Memorial Hall in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park—and assembly began. It took another two or three days to put the cake together. The finished product was stunning. All our hard work and planning had produced an eye-popping vision, now framed in a setting that was perfect for the occasion.

Next: The birthday party...

1. Introduction 2. Chicago to Philly 3. The birthday party
4. Updates 5. Behind the scenes 6. The collection