Baking with politics

June 15, 2023 — For many people, the only message they’ve ever seen frosted on a cake is Happy Birthday. But for Becca Rea-Tucker ’15, cakes are her medium for sharing political messages.

One scroll through Rea-Tucker’s Instagram, @thesweetfeminist, shows decadent desserts bedecked with political slogans and empowering messages for her followers, such as “I’m proud of you,” “Hello, I’m vegan,” and “pro-abortion forever.”

Combining her cakes with her politics wasn’t always on Rea-Tucker’s agenda. She credits her interest in baking to her grandmother, from whom she first learned to bake. Rea-Tucker went on to hone her cooking skills while living in Food House at Grinnell College. A food blog, started in Washington, D.C. a year after graduation by Rea-Tucker and her roommate, is what led Rea-Tucker to where she is now.

Becca Rea-Tucker ’15 talks with students as they decorate cakes at a workshop that was part of Rea-Tucker’s visit to campus.
Becca Rea-Tucker ’15 talks with students as they decorate cakes at a workshop that was part of Rea-Tucker’s visit to campus.

“I was living in D.C. when Trump was elected, and because of the charged atmosphere, I was looking for an outlet,” says Rea-Tucker. “For me, that was baking.”

Rea-Tucker never expected her pies-turned-politics would take off, but nearly overnight, baking had gone from a hobby on the side to the spotlight. Her Instagram account currently has over 241,000 followers, and she’s even had run-ins with celebrities like Miley Cyrus.

“It was mostly just for me in the beginning, but then it snowballed, and very quickly got much bigger than I anticipated,” says Rea-Tucker. “I found a great community that way.”

On April 27-28, Rea-Tucker returned to her alma mater for two events. During Baking with Becca students joined her for a cake workshop in the Marcus Family Global Kitchen. The event began with Tucker asking the students to brainstorm political messages to write on their individual miniature cakes. Students proceeded to decorate cakes with those messages, and Rea-Tucker talked about processing feelings through baking.

“I loved seeing so much enthusiasm for a feminist approach to baking,” Rea-Tucker says. “It was exciting to revisit the campus as well.”

The next day Rae-Tucker gave a presentation during the Learning from Alumni series organized by the Donald and Winifred Wilson Center for Innovation & Leadership.

Becca Rea-Tucker ’15
Rea-Tucker gave a presentation to students during the Learning from Alumni class on April 28.

When Rea-Tucker first started frosting bold political messages onto elegant cakes, no subject was off limits. She has even been called a “rage baker,” a term that she says applied to her earlier work, but not to what she does now. As Rea-Tucker’s account has grown in popularity, she has focused her messaging on the topic she cares the most about.

“My work is very pro-abortion,” says Rea-Tucker. “I’m trying to destigmatize abortion and normalize talking about it. My work is focused on making people feel comfortable.”

One of Rea-Tucker’s latest mouth-watering creation is a pink cake ringed with white and gold sprinkles with the words “pro-abortion” frosted in white across the top.

“Having these ideas in the public consciousness perpetually is important,” Rea-Tucker says. Her many adoring followers would agree, filling her comment sections with encouragement and positivity.

Still, not everyone supports combining sweet treats with social justice, something Rea-Tucker is all too aware of, but she doesn’t get discouraged. The strong support from her followers and her personal convictions keeps her confident in her creations.

In 2022, Rea-Tucker published her first cookbook, Baking By Feel: Recipes to Sort Out Your Emotions (Whatever They Are Today!), providing readers with delicious recipes for every mood. Her favorite recipe included in the book are chewy maple cookies with a hint of cayenne.

“After writing my book, I’m moving into more long-form feminist writing,” she says. 

Wiralba Pichardo ’25, left, and Meghan Rydel ’25 display their cake creation
Wiralba Pichardo ’25, left, and Meghan Rydel ’25 display their cake creations following the Baking with Becca session on April 27.

Rea-Tucker uses Instagram captions to convey as much information as she can, but the space is limited, and only so many words fit on a cake. While she wants her work to be attention-grabbing, Rea-Tucker also wants it to be informative, which is why she is working on transitioning her fanbase from Instagram to Substack.

Rea-Tucker was a religious studies major at Grinnell. Outside of academics, she spent most of her time as a student working for Grinnell’s Liberal Arts in Prison program. Although she has long been interested in social justice work, she credits this experience with fueling her passion.

“I learned how to cook and bake from the incredible people in Food House, and my degree taught me a really great framework for how to think critically,” says Rea-Tucker. “What I got from my Grinnell education that I put into my work is that you can combine a lot of your interests.”

Social justice and baking aren’t the only things Rea-Tucker is passionate about. Lately, she’s been writing a series of blog posts where she revisits old romantic comedies like 50 First Dates through a feminist lens. Although she’s revisited many classic rom-coms with a new perspective, Rea-Tucker’s favorite hasn’t changed.

“My ultimate favorite rom-com would be When Harry Met Sally,” says Rea-Tucker. “Or anything Hugh Grant.”

For anyone looking to combine their politics with their passions but lacking baking skills, Rea-Tucker has a slice of advice. “Use the medium that is available to you,” she says. “One thing I learned at Grinnell is that you don’t have to choose one thing to be passionate about.”

— by Clara Bode ’26

For your information:

Check out some of Becca Rea-Tucker’s recipes, learn more about her book, and find additional information about her on the sweet feminist website

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