The AVEN forum has a long tradition of welcoming new members with cake, it is commonly used to great newcomers in the Welcome Lounge and AVENchat. Since its creation as an emote in 2003, it has become an informal symbol of asexuality and is often referenced to in asexual-related blogs and other asexual media.
Cake is also given for congratulations, comfort, or when a poster does something particularly asexy.
How it all started
The cake emoticon was first suggested in this thread on June 23rd, 2004, and drawn on the same day by Live R Perfect. The tradition, and popularity of cake on AVEN had been around for some time before then, as evidenced here and here, at the end of 2003.
The Legend of the AVEN Cake
Once upon a time, in the castle of the AVENguy, there was much sorrow. The castle had only been rebuilt after a vicious troll attacked it and people began fearing perhaps a new troll would arrive. AVENguy reassured them all that no evil soul would ever enter the castle again, but the people were still afraid.
One day, a young girl arrived at the castle. She was a very mysterious girl, who wore a black cloak and hid her face. All the people could see was her eyes...her dark and enchanting eyes. All the people welcomed the mysterious girl into the castle, except one. The old village fool felt that something was wrong with the girl. He went around and told everyone that she was a troll but they didn’t believe him. "Look at her eyes! She is so lovely," they all said (in a non-sexual way, obviously). When he finally went to AVENguy and told him about it, AVENguy locked him up in an asylum.
The days passed and the people began noticing strange grunts and other noises coming from the mysterious girl's room. Slowly they all started believing the old village fool, and together they went to AVENguy with their worries. AVENguy decided to investigate the matter further. At night, he put on his villager clothes and went for a walk. It was a dark night and all the people were in their houses reading colorful animated books and talking about how frustrating the outside world was. And then, amidst all the houses, he saw a strange light coming out of the window. As AVENguy approached the room, the light disappeared and he started hearing strange noises: grunts and moans and humming sounds. He tried to look inside the window but it was dark; he couldn’t see a thing. However, he knew what those sounds were. He knew that this mysterious girl is a fake. He decided to banish her.
He quickly burst into her room and saw that the room was empty. He looked all over for her but could not find her. All he found was a letter:
"Dear AVENguy and AVENites,
I would like to thank you for your hospitality. I am sure that by now, you have figured out that I am not one of you like I claimed to be. But I am not what you might think I am, either. I am a peasant girl from a faraway land. A year ago, my father died, and now the king of my land has decided that he wants to wed me. When I refused, he banished me from my country. I then escaped to a neighboring village where I was adopted by a witch, who taught me witchcraft so I could fight the evil king.
When I heard the king was to wed my sister, I decided that it was time for me to fight him, despite the fact that I wasn’t ready. At the time, I did not know witchcraft well enough; when I fought the king, I accidently turned him into a dwarf. The king vowed to kill me so I had to escape and seek refuge in your castle. I kept communicating with my family during the past few weeks; those were the noises you kept hearing from my room. They have just told me the evil king has died, and it is safe for me to return to my home. I would like to thank you and your people once again for your kindness. If only the world was full of more people like you, it would be a better place.
To thank you for your hospitality, I will give you a secret recipe I learned at the witch's house. It is a recipe for cake. But it is no ordinary cake; anyone who eats it will immediately feel welcome. The greatest gift you can give to wondering, wandering people who happen to come to your castle is the gift of feeling welcome, and this cake will do it. I wish you all the happiness."
And thus the AVEN Cake came to the AVENites.
It is a very common sight on the AVEN forums.