Thatz Not Okay: Can I Make All My Recipes Secret Recipes?

I made my husband a birthday party and invited his friends and colleagues. I prepared a bunch of my best dishes including a chocolate cake I have perfected for the past 4 years from various recipes. Now let me tell you about the cake: It's perfection, moist, rich and the frosting achieved the delicate balance for it to be delicious to chocoholics and those of us that aren't. Everyone went crazy for it and now my husband asked me to give him my recipe to pass it to the wife of a colleague. Normally I wouldn't mind—I've given my recipes to people in his office—but this lady rubs me off the wrong way. Ever since I met her there's something about her I can't explain that makes me dislike her very much and I can't imagine she cares that much about me given that we have barely spoken and are not even Facebook friends. So now I don't want to give her my recipe since she didn't even bother asking me personally, but my husband says I'm being childish and should just share it. Is that okay?


Thatz not okay.

This is like question #678 on one of those 800-question personality quizzes. Given your nuanced, innate understanding of ownership, zeal for fair dealings, and refusal to back down in the face of popular opinion, your ideal occupations are: estate lawyer, patent examiner, Project Runway: Under the Gunn guest judge (team challenge episode).

Unless your recipe includes ingredients that exist on Earth in a finite supply (fossil fuels; discontinued candy from the early '90s), your ability to bake a special cake will not be threatened by this woman baking the same special cake. Your cake will not taste like cigarette ash if someone else knows how to make it. Ina Garten's simple, elegant quayside picnic recipes do not suffer because she went on TV and gave away all their secrets.

One reason you say you don't want to share the closely-guarded flour to sugar ratio is that you "can't imagine" the woman seeking the recipe "cares that much about [you]." Unfortunately "YOU DON'T CARE ENOUGH ABOUT ME!" is not a valid, non-insane reason for refusing to share a recipe. Your case is only further weakened by the fact you have given out recipes to people in your husband's office before.

(Side note: "This lady rubs me off the wrong way" makes it sound like this woman regularly gives you handjobs you don't enjoy!!! Don't say that!!!)

People who don't give recipes out are regarded by the rest of the population as petty, childish, selfish misanthropes. These are individuals for whom the phrase "I love to make people happy through my cooking" is completed by the unspoken caveat "BUT ONLY UNDER MY TERMS!" The only man America has ever forgiven for bogarting a recipe is Colonel Sanders.

If you don't give out this recipe, prepare to be made fun of. Know that you will be the subject of an email or two, and that no one will take your side. Know that your already strained relationship with this woman will become even cooler, hardening like day-old buttercream icing made from a recipe you will take to your grave. You cannot guard your recipes like an old troll and be thought of as well-adjusted and normal; you cannot have your cake and eat it too and neither can anyone else because you refuse to cough up the recipe.

All that being said: I probably wouldn't give her the fucking recipe. As a fellow black ops baker, I also don't like giving out recipes I have worked to perfect. When people ask me what's in a batch of cookies, I run through a vague list of ingredients ("Sugar, butter, flour, some other stuff."). If they press me for details, I ask if they have any allergies; otherwise: "Don't worry about it." Even though I know it's intended as a compliment, what I hear when someone asks Can I get the recipe? is: I want to know how hard this was to make and how much it cost.

I could probably come up with some convincing lines in defense of secret recipes—how not knowing the secret is much more fun and exciting than knowing the secret; how no dish tastes as good once you realize you can replicate it yourself—but the truth is that this refusal to cooperate stems from an insecurity; if I'm the only one who knows how to make delicious cupcakes the way I make them, any time people want to experience delicious cupcakes the way I make them, they will have to include me in their plans. This is a personal failing. I am not proud to find myself in your camp. The food is great and I hate it here. Three stars.

Refusing to give out a recipe is not okay, because giving out recipes is a simple courtesy that will not hurt anyone. I know that. But sometimes, even though I know something is not okay, I do it anyway. It is these imperfections that give our personalities color; that make our delicious cakes so difficult to replicate blind.

It is unlikely your husband's coworker will continue hassling him for the details of the cake if your husband never gets around to offering them. If he does, your husband can throw you under the bus: "Ha, this is actually a secret recipe she refuses to share with anyone. I know, it's crazy. Why did I get married too?" Don't have him relay the clause about her needing to friend you on Facebook and ask you personally, because that will make you sound as crazy as you are, and the whole point of polite society is that everyone does their best to hide how crazy they are from everyone else.

Going forward, try not to be so petty. Don't judge people based on whether or not they are your Facebook friends. And please send me the recipe for your cake. It sounds incredible.


I have tickets for a very expensive concert (around $70 with fees and all). My boyfriend purchased four of them, three of which went to him, myself and a friend of his. The third one went up for grabs on my Facebook page and a casual friend messaged me asking to take it. I've been waiting for her to pay up since the tickets were purchased, which was months ago. It's beginning to feel like I'm chasing her around for them, and I feel like, as a grown woman and because she doesn't know my boyfriend at all and he is therefore a complete stranger to her, she should have offered to get us the cash right away. I feel it's really rude and inconsiderate of her to withhold this cash and for me to have to keep asking her to meet up with me for it.

Now a good friend of mine and my boyfriend wants to go instead. I feel like writing this other woman an email and being completely transparent with her and letting her know that I don't really want her to have the ticket—something along the lines of "I've decided you don't seem to have much enthusiasm to go to this concert and frankly I feel it is inconsiderate of you to withhold $70 in cash that belongs to someone you don't know very well, and I would prefer to give the ticket to someone else." After all, it isn't a $20 ticket to some local band, and she isn't a close friend of mine and doesn't know my boyfriend, and she knows it's his money. The concert is a week away. Is this okay?

Thatz not okay.

Did your Facebook post read "For Sale: One (1) ticket to Under the Sun Summer Tour (Sugar Ray; Smash Mouth; Blues Traveler) in Asbury Park. Cost: $70 and u gotta make me BELIEEEEVE that u NEED it!!!"?

This ticket is not a state championship and you are not this woman's football coach; therefore, you cannot penalize her for not wanting it BAD enough. She's not paying for the concert with drive.

She should, however, be paying for it with money. The fact that she's not is a problem. If she agreed to pay you for the ticket months in advance and then never got around to doing that, you are released from your part of the bargain. But if you said "You gotta pay me for the ticket," and she said "I'm gonna," and you said "You gotta!" and she said "I'm gonna!" and you said "YOU GOTTA!" and she said "I'M GONNA!" with no firm date attached, that complicates things. You shouldn't have to hassle her to meet up, but you also shouldn't have to meet up with her in the first place: Unless she was planning on rendering payment with a small bag of gold, there is no reason why, in 2014, you two must perform a monetary transaction face to face. She could send you a check, or PayPal you, or wire $70 (!!!) directly into the Swiss Bank account you opened the same day you bought these concert tickets of untold value. It is possible she wanted to wait to give you the cash until she had the ticket in-hand. These are all details that should have been ironed out a couple months ago.

You can't disinvite someone from an event a week beforehand if they've been planning on attending for months. Further, even though full disclosure sounds like a noble idea, there are actually instances when total transparency isn't necessary. You don't need a bowling ball made from glass-clear polyurethane; you don't need to perform a rap for this woman about the specific ways in which you feel she has been inconsiderate.

What you can and should do is send her an email that reads: "Hey, another friend of mine is offering cash for the ticket and I haven't received payment from you yet. Please get me the money by tomorrow night. Otherwise, I'll plan to sell it to her." If she pays, she comes.

The real lesson here: Don't put event tickets up for grabs on Facebook. Do you really want your freshman roommate coming with you? Your aunt? Your mom's friend's daughter? If you don't want to spend time with someone, don't offer them an invitation.

Thatz Not Okay is a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions (max: 200 words) to caity@gawker.com with the subject "Thatz Not Okay." Art by Jim Cooke.