• Dr Alex Baker

Cuthbert's charity skydive | The world's first caterpillar cake skydive for charity

If you’ve been anxiously following the story of Cuthbert, the following video needs no introduction: Cuthbert is skydiving from the edge of space to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust. Of course. If you’re still confused, enjoy the video and read on below for the explanation.

Who is Cuthbert the Caterpillar and why is he in the news?

A seemingly unassuming if delightful insect-themed cake, Cuthbert the Caterpillar made headlines after his dramatic disappearance from Aldi’s shelves in April. The reason? Marks & Spencer announced they were taking the rival retailer to court over similarities between Cuthbert and their own caterpillar cake, Colin.

Cuthbert may have gone from stores, but he definitely remained in hearts. Thanks to a well-orchestrated PR campaign by Aldi, the #freecuthbert hashtag was soon seen across social media and billboards nationwide, with hundreds of avid Cuthbert fans protesting the move by M&S.

After much deliberation behind the scenes, a plan was hatched to bring Cuthbert back to stores, this time for charity. Of course, he couldn’t just show up again after his long absence. Aldi’s marketing & comms team came up with a brilliant way to bring the caterpillar back: a skydive to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust. Naturally, that’s where we come in.

Who launched Cuthbert into space?

Sent Into Space is the world’s leading marketing-focused space agency. When Aldi reached out to us, they’d already spoken to many skydiving clubs and airfields who were daunted by the prospect of getting a cake to survive a skydive—and filming the event, no less. By contrast, we’re well used to unusual challenges involving food. Attentive readers might recall the pie we launched into space for the World Pie Eating Championship, or the chicken nugget that soared above the planet for Iceland’s 50th anniversary last year.

We constructed a bespoke aircraft to carry Cuthbert to an incredible 40,000 feet. Under normal circumstances, the maximum altitude allowed for a jump in the UK is 15,000 feet, but there’s nothing normal about these circumstances. Cuthbert was lifted by a stratospheric balloon the size of a two-storey house, filled with lighter-than-air hydrogen gas. Alongside the cake and his miniature parachute, we carried camera equipment to film the journey, a flight computer broadcasting live data back to our launch and recovery team, and a cut-down mechanism to prevent Cuthbert from sailing off into space.

Our team launched Cuthbert from one of our dedicated launch sites in Derbyshire, where he rose up through the atmosphere at a steady speed of about 17mph for nearly an hour. Whether Cuthbert used the time to consider his life choices, or simply tried his best to weather the freezing cold temperatures (as low as -50°C), we’ll never know. Whatever the case, once the cutdown triggered, he fell at over 50mph through the upper reaches of the troposphere in a world first charity skydive for a cake.

Without ruining too much of the movie magic, we do have to reveal that the parachute visible in shot is purely for display. Cuthbert’s craft was suspended on a much larger parachute, for his own safety and that of any other airspace users. Furthermore, the flight was licensed and authorised by UK Space Agency and the Civil Aviation Authority.

When is Cuthbert coming back to stores?

Cuthbert is making a triumphant return to stores from Monday 17th May, where he’ll be on offer at £4.99 for a limited time, with all profits from sales going to Aldi’s partner charity, Teenage Cancer Trust. You can also donate to the campaign at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/caterpillarsforcancer.