The concept seemed simple enough when Jenna Karvunidis came up with it: a cake with pink or blue icing on the inside to reveal the gender of the child she was expecting with her husband. The idea quickly caught on after she wrote about it on her blog, and it was picked up by other publications.
What followed was a social media likes-striving arms race to see who could create the biggest, most shareable, and in many cases, unintentionally most dangerous, gender-reveal parties—or as advocates have begun calling them, “genitalia reveals,” as gender is more complicated than simply sex assigned at birth.
“There’s this huge pressure to publicize these once-private moments,” Carly Gieseler, an associate professor at the City University of New York’s York College, who has studied gender-reveal parties, told the Associated Press. “You get that outside validation that what you did was unique, that it was extra special. It drives celebrations to the extreme because you’re trying to do the thing that no one’s done before.”
Karvunidis no longer supports gender-reveal parties, and has a child who does not adhere to gender norms.
Nevertheless, the trend continues, in some cases with catastrophic results.
Pipe Bomb Kills Woman in Iowa
Pamela Kreimeyer was killed in Knoxville, Iowa on October 26, 2019, when an explosion meant only to send up pink or blue smoke sent shrapnel flying as well. The expectant couple had inadvertently made a pipe bomb. A piece of metal hit the 56-year-old in the head, killing her instantly. Authorities said she was standing about 45 feet away from the device and that the piece that struck her landed 144 yards away from her, according to KCCI.
Another explosion intended to reveal the gender of a couple’s child occurred in Iowa the day after the incident in Knoxville took Kreimeyer’s life. This time the homemade explosive device did not cause death or injury, thankfully, but it was powerful enough to shake homes more than two miles away, KCCI reported.
Waukee Fire Department Capt. Tommie Tysdal said the property owners shot a commercial explosive gender-reveal kit with a rifle, which appears to have been legal, as they were outside city limits. Neighbors were reportedly not pleased with the disturbance just the same.
A Fight Breaks Out at an Applebee’s in Ohio
A gender-reveal party at an Applebee’s in Boardman, Ohio, in October of last year turned violent when a manager asked the party to clean up after themselves.
A manager told police a party of 20 initially planned to reveal the gender of the baby by shooting off pink or blue confetti poppers inside the restaurant, but were asked to move the celebration outside to avoid disrupting other customers.
They obliged, but when asked to attend to the mess they had made in the parking lot, a number of them began hurling insults and menus, striking both the manager and a hostess. The group then left without paying their bill.
If you’re wondering, from the looks of the litter they left behind, they’re expecting a baby boy.
Also in October of 2018, in Australia, a family revealed the expectant mother was having a boy via blue smoke emitting from a truck while the driver did a burnout in the driveway. The tires quickly burst into flames due to all the friction, leaving those gathered running for safety.
Another Burnout in the Same SuburbACT Policing
In May of that same year, in that same suburb in Theodore, Queensland, a similar incident took place, resulting in the individual responsible facing a number of charges.
Friends and Family Take Fireworks to the Face in Philadelphia
In July of last year, a couple in Philadelphia informed friends and family they were expecting a girl by shooting off pink fireworks. All was going well until the fireworks fell over and began firing in their loved ones’ faces, sending them running and screaming.
Thankfully, no one was too badly injured, with some adults reporting mild burns.
Jersey Man Breaks Ankle While Kicking a Football
In June of 2018, an expectant father in New Jersey had a football-kicking fail so painfully bad, it would make Charlie Brown look like Adam Vinatieri.
Christopher Ojeda was celebrating Father’s Day and his birthday, which were both on the same day, with friends and family. He decided to also use the double-occasion to reveal the sex of his baby. After the football exploded with pink powder, Ojeda went down hard, grabbing his ankle. Doctors informed him it was broken, and that he might need surgery.
Border Patrol Agent Ignites 47,000-Acre Wild Fir
In April of 2017, an off-duty border patrol agent revealed he was expecting a boy with an explosion that ended up igniting a 47,000-acre wildfire in Arizona, causing millions of dollars worth of damage.
Dennis Dickey, 37, of Tucson, Arizona, admitted to starting the blaze and was ordered to pay more than $8 million in restitution, with an initial payment of $100,000, according to the Department of Justice.
He was also put on probation for five years and was ordered to make a public service announcement with the U.S. Forest Service about the cause of the so-called Sawmill fire.