Jacob Koscinski was certainly worthy of a grand graduation cake: The 18-year-old earned a 4.79 GPA in his Christian-based home-school program and is now set to head to North Carolina's Wingate University later this year on a full scholarship. But per WCIV, when partygoers got their first glimpse Saturday of the sheet cake for the South Carolina teen, it was a "huge shock" for everyone, his mom says. Cara Koscinski had ordered the cake online through Publix, requesting that it include the message "summa cum laude" to signal the high honors Jacob had received. But because Publix's algorithm apparently deemed the middle word (which means "with" in the Latin phrase) a profane one, it automatically generated three hyphens in its place: The cake revealed at the party read "summa --- laude." "Utterly ridiculous," Koscinski wrote on her Facebook page.
The Washington Post tried to order a cake on the Publix site using the same phrase and got an alert that said "Profane/special characters not allowed." Koscinski notes when she got that message, she explained the meaning of the phrase in the "special instructions" field and included a link to a site that explained it more fully. The hyphenated replacement for the omitted word actually made things worse for Jacob, who called the whole thing "frustrating and humiliating." "I had to explain to my friends and family … what that meant," he tells WCIV. "They were giggling uncontrollably." Publix offered to redo the cake, but Jacob's mom turned it down, as the graduation party had already passed. Instead, she received a refund for the $70 she'd spent, as well as a store gift card. (Four words on a New Jersey high school's prom tickets caused a problem.)