While honesty boxes are common among rural communities in the UK, the Shetland Islands have taken the concept further than the typical eggs and baked goods for sale outside a farmhouse. Across the islands, full-sized cake fridges and sizable structures are stocked with sauces, jams, bannocks, and even hand-knit souvenirs.
The Original Cake Fridge (also known as Da Cake Fridge) was created in 2012 by Lynn Johnson, a farmer and avid baker who came up with the idea after farmers markets closed in Shetland. Without the usual outlet to sell her baked goods, Johnson decided to use the honesty box system, which was already prevalent on the islands, to sell cakes 24/7.
As the fridge’s popularity grew, so did the products on offer and the number of businesses inspired by it—all of them trusting customers to leave cash as payment before taking their tasty treats. In the town of Hoswick, a brightly colored cake shed known as Emma’s Cake Corner offers sweets next to the visitor center. In the community of Sand, a box next to the bus stop offers eggs, cupcakes, and cinnamon swirl biscuits. On the island of Unst, a house-shaped box can be found next to the well-known attraction Bobby’s Bus Shelter.
Know Before You Go
Local websites, such as the tourism bureau and NorthLink Ferries, have published lists of some of the more notable Shetland honesty boxes and fridges. The creator of the Original Cake Fridge has also opened a tearoom next to the fridge.
Tourism on Shetland is very seasonal, so most honesty boxes are likely to be closed for at least part of autumn and winter, unless explicitly marked as 24/7. Given the nature of this type of commerce, it's best to verify online if the boxes and fridges are open during your visit.