Arthur Wiki
"Dad's Dessert Dilemma"
Season/Series: 3
Number in season: 7b
Original Airdate: United States November 24, 1998[1]
Canada September 14, 1999[2]
Germany March 1, 2002[3]
Written by: Sandra Willard
Storyboard by: Jeremy O'Neill
Alex Greychuck
"Arthur Rides the Bandwagon"
"Popular Girls"
Read transcript

"Dad's Dessert Dilemma" is the second half of the seventh episode in the third season of Arthur.


Arthur is unsure about his father's "cooking experiments". But after seeing that the cake his father made impress the entire school, he keeps asking his father to make more cakes to make himself more popular. Arthur's father doesn't mind this until he sees Arthur's constant request hindering his schedule.


David greets the viewers who are here for Arthur. He calls for him, but doesn't get an answer, so he says that Arthur must be doing his homework; however, Arthur is actually shown to be eating cookies.

David then announces he is working on a special cooking project for the Read Family. He shows the viewers cinnamon toast soufflé; he notices that getting them out of the toaster is a struggle. He also realizes that his cooking experiments have been misunderstood. Once, for dessert, he brought out some chunky pudding balls, which disgusted D.W. and Arthur. Another time, while Arthur and the rest of the family were watching TV, David brought out "Cranberry Prune Crumble", which was a shortcake with cranberries and prunes. Arthur said he didn't like broken-up food, but Jane tried it and liked it, much to Arthur and D.W.'s disgust. David feels that he can deal with the setbacks and disagreements. Arthur arrives, and his dad tells him he needs a volunteer to taste one of his cooking projects. Arthur quickly leaves.

Dad's Dessert Dilemma

One day at school, Mr. Ratburn teaches Arthur and the class about the physicist Galileo, who invented the first astronomical telescope in 1609. He tells the class that tomorrow is Galileo's birthday, and the class will celebrate by studying his theory about the solar system. Binky suggests a party, and Mr. Ratburn agrees. Buster says that every birthday party needs cake and ice cream. Arthur says that to celebrate someone's birthday and not have cake seems disrespectful; Brain agrees, saying that they can't disrespect Galileo. He then says he'll bring ice cream, Francine says she'll bring cake, and Arthur says his mom will bake chocolate chip cookies. Mr. Ratburn announces that 5 questions will be cut from the quiz about Galileo. Buster tells Arthur that he wishes that peanut brittle would have been brought instead.

When Arthur comes home, he announces to Jane about Galileo's birthday and mentions that he said she'd bake cookies, but Jane tells Arthur that she has a few business deadlines she is attempting to keep track of. David notices this and decides to bake Arthur something. Arthur wonders if David will make something weird. David is puzzled by what Arthur means by this, but decides to give up on the conversation and check on the turnip muffins he is making. Arthur is disappointed and Jane tells him that David will bake something unique (i.e. the clue).

Later that day, David reveals Arthur's surprise: Honey cake in the shape of the [ [Leaning Tower of Pisa]]. Arthur is disappointed by this, ("But I said I'd bring cookies, not a whole tower of pizza!") but disappointedly thanks David when Jane admonishes him. When David drives to school, Arthur imagines some of his friends and Mr. Ratburn refusing to eat the cake and Mr. Ratburn saying "I give this cake and its owner a D — D for disgusting!"

The scene cuts back to the present. Arthur arrives at his school, and he sees his friends having the party. He brings in the cake and hides it with a book. Francine compliment's Brain's mom's ice cream. Buster agrees, and asks Arthur if he brought something. Arthur gets terrified when Mr. Ratburn uncovers the cake; he cuts a piece, and then actually thinks it's delicious, much to Arthur's surprise. Arthur's friends want some as well. Miss Sweetwater comes in and Mr. Ratburn convinces her to try the cake. She does and likes it as well. She adds that she would love to treat her own class to this kind of cake after their upcoming singalong. Arthur tells her that David can make it without any issue and Miss Sweetwater compliments him.

Arthur tells his parents about the cake, saying that it was the most popular one of all, and adding that he promised Miss Sweetwater one for her class. David is pleased, but caught by surprise a little bit at Arthur's promise. D.W. is jealous that Arthur's class got cake but not her own class (it's "against the law!") David decides to make D.W. a cake for her school as well.

The next day, Arthur sees Miss Sweetwater presenting her class with the cake his dad made for them. Mr. Ratburn goes to drop off an important letter. Arthur sees the class enjoying his cake when Francine catches him bowing and enjoying the attention of Miss Sweetwater's class. Mr. Ratburn arrives in Miss Sweetwater's classroom, and is enamored with the cake, even snatching a piece away before a student could get it. Arthur realizes that "everyone" likes "his" cake.

When Arthur comes home, he asks David to make another dessert, this time for a band recital. David already is feeling pressured from having numerous orders, but Arthur pleads for another dessert, telling David how much people want his desserts, and how popular he is (even more so than Bionic Bunny!) David agrees, and as Arthur leaves, he mentions that in addition to the cake for the band, there should be a couple more for the audience, as well. Jane sees Arthur walking out and says to David that she thinks Arthur's getting carried away. David thinks about how much Arthur (who, just recently, wouldn't even try his "chocolate-dipped ham"), now loves his culinary creations. David feels he could cope with making a few more desserts. That night, David is making the desserts, but starts to show signs of being overwhelmed, messing up a couple of other items he is making.

The next day, at the band recital, Buster tells Arthur that this recent cake was the best dessert ever (or, at least since Monday). Mr. Ratburn comes in and, noticing cake, he grabs a plate and serves himself a piece. Francine compliments Arthur as being "the most popular kid in school".

Later the next day, Arthur goes down the hallway and some students high five him about the cake. He spots Fern and offers to have a cake made for her upcoming birthday. At lunch, Francine and Muffy are eating outside and Muffy unwraps a snack cake that greatly resembles the Hostess Ho-Ho and the Little Debbie Swiss Roll. Arthur bears witness to this and scoffs at her dessert of choice. Now clearly developing an ego, Arthur even goes as far to tell Francine and Sue Ellen to give him a call the next time that Francine's mom is having a bake sale.

When school is out, Arthur is about to get on his bike when he spots Brain and Brain's mom giving her extra ice cream to Buster, Francine, Binky, and an unnamed male sheep. Binky states that ice cream is the best dessert in the world. Arthur is horrified and convinced that Brain is "moving in on his dessert turf." At home, Arthur has created his most demanding order yet, consisting of: 4 cakes, 6 pies, and sachertorte (a type of Austrian chocolate torte). He asks his mom if she knows where David is, but she tells him that while David does like to do things for Arthur, all the extra desserts have been putting a real toll on his regular cooking, and then asks Arthur if he believes it is fair for David to be doing all this extra works. Arthur admits it isn't, and decides to wait awhile before asking him to make any more desserts. Jane approves of his answer and kisses him on the head.

A mere hour and a half later, (which Arthur decides is enough waiting), Arthur goes into the garage to see David talking to Ed Crosswire about why the food for his party isn't ready. David apologizes and says that he had a "special cake order" to fill (obviously the cakes that he made for Arthur) and promises that everything will be done in two hours. Ed agrees to this, and informs him that otherwise he would have to take his business somewhere else.

D.W. discovers a disappointed Arthur and asks what's wrong. He informs her that David's business has been behind with all the cakes being made and because of him, David may end up losing Mr. Crosswire's business. D.W. misinterprets this to mean that David would lose his catering business, thus causing the family to have no money and lose their house and end up on the street.

Arthur corrects her, only for D.W. to then believe that they would have almost no money and their furniture would end up on the street. When Arthur wonders what to do now, as he needs those desserts (while holding up the piece of paper with the orders on them), D.W. demands "Throw it away — your crazy demands will destroy us!"

She then tries to take the piece of paper away from Arthur, and Arthur replies with "Give it back!" A tug-of-war ensues over the paper.

When David appears and asks what's going on, the siblings stop fighting; D.W. tells David that Arthur ruined the business and to "put him on the street first."

A surprised David turns to Arthur, who admits that he was only using the desserts to make himself popular. He rips up his order, apologizing to his dad for making him get behind in his work. David is understanding and reaffirms what Jane said about his willing to help out Arthur, but only if he is asked instead of told. To make it up to him, Arthur agrees to help fill the Crosswire order. D.W also volunteers, but not before reminding everyone that Arthur is to blame for the mess.

The trio gets to work — doing everything from cutting up vegetables to measuring ingredients to washing dishes. Pal even assists by transporting bowled ingredients across the kitchen via the red wagon. By the time they are done, Arthur and D.W. are exhausted. Arthur is shown to have a new-found appreciation for the amount of work that cooking requires.

David thanks them for their help before revealing that thanks to their assistance, he had enough time to make a second cake for the family.

As if on cue, Mr. Ratburn appears at the door with the spring reading list, once again saying, “Oh, are you having cake?” This, in turn, causes Arthur to roll his eyes and proclaim, “Oh brother.”

Mr. Crosswire, now once again on friendly terms with David, returns and leaves with his order. Mr. Ratburn gets a whiff of brownie cake, and hungrily drives off after Ed.






  • Arthur mentioned that Fern's birthday was "coming up", meaning that her birthday is shortly after February 15, Galileo's birthday (unless he was mistaken).
  • Morals: Don't take advantage of what others do well, for your personal gains.
  • Running Gag: Mr. Ratburn saying "Oh, are you having cake?" when he conveniently shows up at a specific place and time to see David's cakes being served.

Episode connections[]

  • Mr. Ratburn's love for cake — especially David Read's — is further explored in "The Rat Who Came to Dinner".
  • David tells D.W. that he'd love to make desserts for her school. While we don't see him make desserts for her preschool class, he does bring desserts to D.W.'s kindergarten class in "Arthur's First Day".
  • D.W. freaks out about David getting behind on his orders and worries about being put on the street. This is similar to when she freaked out in "Arthur the Wrecker" after Arthur caused Jane's computer to switch off, causing everyone to assume that the computer was broken.

Cultural references[]

  • Mr. Ratburn teaches the class about Galileo Galilei, who did not invent, but greatly improved, the telescope.
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa cake likely references the apocryphal story of Galileo dropping objects of different weight off the tower.


  • When Arthur tells his dad, "You're more popular than Bionic Bunny!" David is seen from the back, and appears to have been replaced by Brain (complexion and shirt color)
  • Prunella is seen in Mr. Ratburn's class, although she is in the 4th grade.
  • Galileo's birthday is one day after Valentine's Day, yet no leftover decorations are seen in the hallways.
    • It is possible that the school did not put up decorations for Valentine's Day, or they were taken down already. It is also possible that the writers of the episode either did not consider the timing of Galileo's birthday and Valentine's Day, or thought it would be confusing and unnecessary for the episode's plot to include decorations for Valentine's Day.
  • When Arthur looks at the clock, it says 6:50, but Mr. Crosswire says it's 4:00.

Home Video[]




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