Icing on the Cake (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Icing on the Cake"?

The term "icing on the cake" means an additional benefit. In other words, it refers to something good on top of what you already have. In the USA, the term "frosting on the cake" is also used.

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Icing on the Cake (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • Jack welcomed the extra responsibility. The extra money was just the icing on the cake.
  • Reaching the summit was life-time dream. The success of the documentary was the icing on the cake.
  • My work is so much fun that the money is just icing on the cake. There seems to be a lot of icing. (TV presenter Ken Jennings)
  • We have always said that advertising is just the icing on the cake. It is not the cake. (Businesswoman Meg Whitman)
Cakes have been around for thousands of years, but the icing (or frosting) is relatively new (hundreds of years) because the refined sugar required to make icing was so expensive. A cake is, of course, already a treat, but one with icing is considered even more special, i.e., the icing is a bonus.

This idiom is a metaphor. It has been in use since the early 20th century (evidence).

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