Mother left red-faced after ordering $70 cake to celebrate son's graduation with 'Summa cum laude'

Cara Koscinski, of Charleston, ordered the $70 cake from Publix to celebrate her son Jacob graduating homeschool with the highest honors, but was left embarrassed.

                            Mother left red-faced after ordering $70 cake to celebrate son's graduation with 'Summa cum laude'
(Source:Getty Images)

A mother was left red-faced after the cake she bought for her son's 'Summa Cum Laude' graduation was wrongly censored for profanity in South Carolina. Charleston resident Cara Koscinski wanted to celebrate her son Jacob's graduation wherein he received the highest honors from a Christian-based home-schooling program, and so she ordered a cake from Publix for $70.

However, the franchise's website flagged a special message she wanted to ice on the cake which read, 'Congrats Jacob, Summa Cum Laude, Class of 2018'. The website threw an error message informing her that special characters or profane language were prohibited according to company policy.

Publix has an online system which automatically monitors submissions and autocorrects profane words to dashes. 

Nonetheless, Koscinski clarified on her submission that the Latin phrase simply meant "highest honors" and that it was in no way intended to be rude or profane. She says she also included a note in the special instructions section detailing the origin of the Latin phrase with a link, and included her phone number for any further questions, but was never called.

That being said, when Jacob's father came home with the cake, the family was left speechless to find that Publix had replaced the word 'cum' with three dashes, in order to play safe, albeit with ignorance.

“Congrats Jacob!,” the cake read. “Summa — Laude Class of 2018.”

Koscinski lashed out at the bakery in a Facebook post. She said she was stuck in an embarrassing position where she had to explain to her family, especially her mother, as to why the cake company had chosen to censor an honorary Latin phrase. "How utterly ridiculous," Koscinski wrote.

"Publix refused to write the words 'Summa Cum Laude' because I was using ‘profanity!"

"Shame on you Publix for turning an innocent Latin phrase into a total embarrassment for having to explain to my son and others (including my 70-year-old mother) about this joke of a cake.

Jacob's grandmother, who was invited to the party, had to ask Koscinski to explain what was happening. She had no clue as to why everyone was laughing and was visibly confused about the censorship.

"My mother had no idea what that was! I think me having to explain it to her was the worst part!!' Koscinski, a speaker and course creator in autism and occupational therapy. 

"My son was humiliated! Funny-not funny."

On the other hand, Jacob said that his friends were rolling on the floor with laughter over the unfortunate mess up instead of celebrating his graduation with a whopping 4.79 GPA.

"The cake experience was kind of frustrating and humiliating because I had to explain to my friends and family like what that meant. And they were giggling uncontrollably. At least my friends were," he told WCIV.

In a conversation with PEOPLE, Koscinski asserted that when her family had noticed the mix-up, they were stunned.  “Jacob is not a dumb kid,” says Koscinski. “He knows what those words mean, and his friends were laughing so hard at it. He was humiliated though.”

At one point, Jacob's mother admitted that while all the guests enjoyed the cake, nobody wanted to eat the part with the dashes “because it was just gross at that point.”

According to Koscinski, if the cakes were to go through some kind of a double-verification system wherein the bakery could call the customer if they had problems with the decorations, patrons wouldn't be disappointed. She says that she doesn't see a point to an online automatic censorship based system.

“I actually think that they should accept all requests for cakes,” Koscinski says. “Just let people submit things, because they’re paying $70 for a cake, and then [Publix] can use their discretion or call the family if they have a problem. I do think that the censorship of it all is absolutely ridiculous. Just to assume that every time you use the word c-u-m it means one thing is absolutely ridiculous.”

Koscinski immediately called Publix after voicing her frustrations on Facebook. She spoke with the assistant manager of the bakery outlet situated east of Charleston on Savannah Highway, who apologized and offered a full refund for the cake along with a gift card that could be used at the store.

"It's fine for us to be compensated for the cake. We're just happy that our son graduated school and has a bright future," said Cara Koscinski.

Koscinski's son is now planning to major in pre-med at Wingate University. As for the Publix employee responsible for the mix-up - the system can also make mistakes. 

“Satisfying our customers is our top priority,” Publix tells PEOPLE in a statement. “You can feel confident that this situation has been addressed, and the appropriate business areas and leaders are involved.”