What Does the Expression “That Takes the Cake” Mean and Where Did the Phrase Come From?

African Americans of the Old South highlighted their social season with a dancing contest called a cakewalk.

The contestants often practiced for months and included couples of all ages.

The prize was a huge cake which was set in the center of the hall and around which the dancers exhibited their skills.

A panel of judges would watch the innovative dancers until a winner was chosen, who would then “take the cake.”

We say, “That takes the cake” when something is done exceptionally well.