Hello, my strain is: Cake

The terpenes of “cake” strains

Anyone who knows cannabis, will tell you about the absolute importance of terpenes. Total terpenes, for example, is a good indicator of how fragrant a bud will be, while specific terpenes are known to modulate the particular smells, tastes and even the effects of cannabis.

Many, if not most, strains are named after their smells which, in turn, are mostly due to terpenes. There are lots of guides out there that talk about the particular smells of terpenes and what other foods or plants they are found in: Myrcene is found in mangos, Pinene is found in pine trees, Caryophyllene is found in black pepper and so on. While the presence of those terps can explain some basic smells, what about the complex smells that cannot be explained by the presence of a single terpene?

For the purpose of this post, we’ll be exploring “cake” strains and what exactly makes them “cake”. For example, there is no specific “ice cream cake terpene”, so what causes strains to have that particular smell? Also, is the terpene mix in other cake strains the same? If so, can we predict precisely how a strain will smell based on terpene data alone?

To answer these questions, Cannametrics has teamed up with Molecular Science Corp (MSC) to compare strains on the legal market. We’re taking a look to see how similar products with the same names, as well as smells, compared when it came down to their terpenes. What we have found so far is very interesting and we’ve begun to answer these questions through MSC’s analytical capabilities.

Firstly, we began by grabbing  5 representative “cake” samples and ran them through MSC’s advanced analytical testing. Of the 5 samples, 2 were “Ice Cream Cake” strains and 3 were “Wedding Cake” strains.

Here are some of the key insights from our experiment:

The “Cakes” have a lot in common

The first striking study result is how similar all these flower samples were in terms of their terpene profiles. The graph below shows how closely the terpenes of all 5 of our Cake samples match up.

You don’t need statistics to interpret this graph:

With such a high degree of similarity in terpene content, we can start to map what makes a “Cake” cultivar.  For example: In 4 out of 5 strains, Caryophyllene, Limonene & Linalool were the 3 most abundant terpenes suggesting that this mix is a “terpene signature” for Cake strains. 

These results in themselves were fascinating, but we wanted to go deeper, so we prompted the next question:

What makes Ice Cream Cake strains and Wedding Cake strains different?

Once again, the answer was clearly underscored in our testing results. Caryophyllene was the most abundant terpene in all the “Wedding Cake” strains whereas Limonene was the top terp in the “Ice Cream Cake” strains. It seems, in terms of these samples, that the “cake” component was defined by the particular mix and the difference between the kinds of cake by the top terpene.

Insights into the Lineages of Wedding Cake & Ice Cream Cake

Wedding Cake

  • Widely believed to be and advertised as “Cherry Pie” x “Girl Scout Cookies” cross. However, only some of the products acquired for this investigation were advertised as this, while others were less clear.

Ice Cream Cake

  • There’s no doubt about Ice Cream Cake’s lineage, as it is:

    Wedding Cake” (Breeder = Seed Junky Genetics)  x  “Gelato #33” (Breeder = Sherbinskis & Cookie Fam Genetics ).


Looking into the analytical chemistry of Cake strains, we were able to find that there is a signature terpene mix that makes a strain “Cake”.  Interestingly, we were also able to see a clear distinction between “Wedding Cake” and “Ice Cream Cake” in the order of the terpenes.

The samples analyzed here had such striking similarities and such clean distinctions between them. We are excited to continue to explore how terpenes define our favourite strains and how they come together to express their characteristics and complex smells.

Coming next in Hello, my strain is… the terpenes of Cheese.

Eric Jacobsen

Co-Founder, CEO @ Cannametrics. On a mission to elevate the status of cannabis through transparency and science. I want to help by providing everyone with real information they can use to have the best possible experiences.