Now Reading:Culture | High Culture: Polly Cooks’ Cakes Combine Personality, Humor, & Cannabis Culture
California-born Utah-raised cake expert Paulette Goto is a unique soul. Having grown up as a forced Jehovah’s Witness under the watch of an abusive mother, Goto was never allowed to celebrate birthdays.
Never one to bash anyone else’s religion or experiences, Paulette’s upbringing as a JW saw more negatives than positives. “I found the JW religion to be very fear-based and overly restrictive. No holidays, no birthdays, no fun…to say the least,” she tells Herb.
For Goto, the “no birthdays” hurt the most. Why shouldn’t a 7-year-old child celebrate the day they were born? In fact, she didn’t receive her first birthday cake until the age of 17, baked by a friend’s mother.
Growing up on welfare, Goto explains how money was scarce, her mother was a hoarder, and she would often be physically and verbally abusive.
“I was always in fear, never knowing what could set her off,” says Paulette, adding that her mother would save food for events that would never happen, leaving Goto unaware of what she was allowed to eat.
Not to mention her insatiable sweet tooth, prompting her to scarf down anything sweet in the house with a sense of fear and urgency. Although her mother was a fierce believer in the JW faith, Paulette wasn’t, and she found relief in getting away to smoke weed and do LSD.
At the tender age of 16, Goto’s mother kicked her out of the house. “I wasn’t really scared when she threw me out; I was more relieved,” she explains.
Polly later moved in with three friends and worked two full-time jobs to stay afloat. After moving in with one of those friends, David, and his parents, Goto explains how she “pretty much made love” to her first birthday cake, made by David’s mother on her 17th birthday.
After three years of living there and paying rent, David’s parents graciously returned her “rent” money so she could spread her wings. Paulette then studied Pastry Arts at The French Culinary Institute and landed her first job in the pastry kitchen of Le Cirque while making cakes along the way.
Goto has been smoking weed since she was 14. Once her social media started gaining traction, friends would warn her about the dangers of posting weed-related content and how it could hinder work opportunities in the future. “I played the game and kept my weed use out of the public eye,” she explains.
After a visit to @astorclubnyc in July 2020, Paulette found herself happily immersed in the cannabis community. She says it’s the most “supportive, loving, and friendly space.”
Eventually, Paulette heard from a co-owner of Astor Club NYC, who asked her to bring a cake to a dinner party for a special guest of honor. Who was that guest? None other than Berner, rapper, and founder of the world’s first legal cannabis empire, Cookies.
As time went on, Paulette’s social media expanded, and her cakes landed her over 20,000 loyal followers who adore Polly for her unique cake style.
A perfect example of this is Paulette’s 2014 visit to a well-known Mormon-owned bakery, where she ordered a cake with the word “slut” on it. The employee didn’t look so thrilled when bringing her the cake, which read “sluts” instead of “slut.”
“Can you please take the S off? It’s just for one slut, me,” Polly asked. The silence was deafening, and the S was removed. Encounters like this never fail to make Polly laugh.
“I love and live for the juxtaposition of a beautiful cake with ‘congrats, you’re kind of a cunt’ written on it,” says Paulette. We couldn’t agree more.
Today, Paulette Goto’s Instagram page is packed with visually stimulating and mouthwatering cakes that not only pay homage to her love for cannabis, but her personality, humor, and natural wit.
Paulette, we couldn’t be more honored to share your story and feature a custom Herb cake for our Holiday Gift Guide cover. We are grateful for you, your cakes, and your touching story.
Stay baked and up to date with Paulette Goto on her Instagram page, @pollycooks.