Warren Buffett is known best as the investing genius who transformed Berkshire Hathaway from a failing textile manufacturer into a $522 billion conglomerate. But he's also famous for something else: his sweet tooth.
When it comes to his favorite soda, Coke, Buffett is even known to drink several a day.
"I'm one quarter Coca-Cola," Buffett told Fortune in 2015. "If I eat 2,700 calories a day, a quarter of that is Coca-Cola. I drink at least five 12-ounce servings." Berkshire Hathaway held an $18 billion stake in The Coca Cola Company as of June 30.
So when Buffett visited Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in Manhattan, New York for his annual charity luncheon benefiting the Glide Foundation on Thursday — on the billionaire's 88th birthday — the restaurant decided a special Coca Cola-themed birthday cake was in order.
The steakhouse hosts the Glide Foundation meal each year, which is auctioned off to bidders willing to donate millions for the chance to dine with Buffett. This year, the winner's bid topped $3.3 million.
Themed as a "Coke float," the chocolate cake is soaked with cola syrup, and topped with dark chocolate ganache and a buttercream made to taste like ice cream, pastry chef Cory Colton tells CNBC Make It. To achieve the flavor of ice cream, the chefs bought freeze dried "astronaut ice cream" and whipped it into the frosting, he adds.
Source: Sara Mavec | Smith & Wollensky
In total, the cake took over four days to make. Although Colton and his fellow pastry chef Lucy Blanche were baking for one of the richest men in the world, Colton says he didn't get nervous.
"He's just such a nice, comfortable, kind guy, I never feel like we have to continuously impress him," Colton says of Buffett.
Still, the stakes are high. The idea for a Coca Cola cake came about last year, when Smith & Wollensky created a "birthday cake extravaganza" for Buffett's 2017 Glide luncheon, which fell on his 87th birthday.
Source: Smith & Wollensky
"Last year's theme was Warren Buffett's favorite things, and we didn't really get to include the Coke element," Colton says. "This year we wanted to just focus on that."
Buffett has had a sweet tooth since childhood, when he would take his "nickel-a-week" allowance straight to the candy store as a kid.
"I like the peanut brittle a lot and there's no way to stop once you start eating peanut brittle. … And Whoppers, I love. And Milk Duds. … I like almost everything. Just offer it to me and find out," Buffett tells fellow billionaire Bill Gates on a trip to a candy shop in June.
Today, with a considerably larger amount of money at his disposal, Buffett is still spending on sweets. Berkshire Hathaway owns See's Candies and Dairy Queen, which specialize in candy and ice cream sundaes. Although consumers are trending toward healthier and organic food choices, Buffett says his sweet treats bring joy.
"I am a very, very very happy guy," Buffett said at Berkshire's 2016 annual meeting. "I really wish I had a twin, and that twin had eaten broccoli his entire life, and we both consumed the same number of calories. I know I would have been happier, and I think the odds are fairly good I would have lived longer."
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