MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Pull out the old photo albums, and you’ll probably find some pictures of a 1-year-old with birthday-cake-covered hands and face.

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It’s a traditional picture, because it’s cute.

These days, however, many parents are turning that impromptu photo-op into a formal photo shoot — complete with props, costumes, and elaborate theme cakes.

Social media is fueling the surge.

Little McKenna’s family celebrated her first birthday with a “smash cake” photo shoot, which is exactly what it sounds like. McKenna just takes the pink-frosted cake and pushes it into her mouth and all over her cheeks.

“It’s just fun. It’s great for memories,” said McKenna’s mom, Amanda. “It’s just fun to watch the experience of them dig in and get messy.”

Meghan Dub has done dozens of smash cake shoots. She says they’re just a natural extension of a trend: having 3-month photo shoots from newborn through age 1.

“They change so rapidly, so it’s really fun to see all those pictures, you know, kind of in succession,” Dub said.

Tara got her smash cake ideas from Pinterest, the popular photo-sharing site, and loves the pictures of her son, Hudson, and his green monster cake. They are a big upgrade over the pictures from the boy’s actual first birthday party, when he cried.

“So, we prepped and prepared for this,” Tara said. “He got a cupcake a day and we practiced every day until the day of the pictures to make sure he was comfortable eating the cake with his fingers.”

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Megan Greulich made the cake for Hudson’s photo shoot, among many others. Her Groundswell bakery has been making more and more elaborate smash cakes as parents look for even more memorable pictures.

“We’re a visual society now,” Greulich said, “and we love to have memories with photos.”

And what about the fact that that these beautiful cakes really just end up as photo-op props, no matter how good they taste?

“Cakes are made to be eaten, and sometimes they’re made to be smashed and I’m so happy to see it being enjoyed,” Greulich said.

You don’t need to go to a fancy bakery to get a smash cake. Cub, Target, Lunds, and Byerly’s are among the bakeries that will give you a small smash cake for free when you buy a first birthday cake.

Betty Crocker has also jumped on the trend. The company has posted all kinds of do-it-yourself designs online for parents who want to do something fancy but want to make their own cake.

We’d love to see your smash cake photos. Send them to morning@wcco.com and we’ll show some of our favorites Tuesday on WCCO This Morning between 4:30 a.m. and 7 a.m.

For more information about those involved in the photo shoot, we’ve provided the contact info. for each:

Valerie Fischer
Queeniebabe Boutique

Meghan Dub
Meghan Elizabeth Photography

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Groundswell Coffee House and Bakery