Cake mixes, which were first introduced in the 1930s, didn't really catch on until after World War II. And even then, despite stereotypes of the apron-clad '50s housewife juggling taking care of kiddos and cleaning the house with just enough time to whip together instant baking creations, cake mixes actually weren't popular at first.
Simply adding water to a dry mix wasn't enough to make consumers feel proud of their baking handiwork. So, those crafty manufacturers reformulated their mixes so that consumers had to add fresh eggs themselves. Sneaky.
Today, the same appeal exists. Just add a few ingredients and baking a masterpiece of a cake (that's all your own) becomes a piece of cake. Whether a mix or a homemade cake rates better on the tasty-scale, will probably be a debate that goes on, well, forever. But from a health standpoint, there's no debate. Homemade cakes are healthier, even if it is dessert.
Why? Because you're in control. You can choose what ingredients go into your cake. Using whole, fresh and organic flours, sugars and butter, will blow any conventional cake mixes' ingredients out of the oven.
Need proof? Take a look:
Ingredients in Duncan Hines Classic Yellow Cake Mix:
(I'm going to pick on Duncan Hines, although other popular cake mix brands including Betty Crocker and Pillsbury have similar ingredients.)
Sugar, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Propylene Glycol Mono- and Diesters Of Fats, Mono and Diglycerides), Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate). Contains 2% Or Less Of: Wheat Starch, Salt, Dextrose, Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cellulose Gum, Artificial Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Maltodextrin, Modified Cornstarch, Colored with (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake).