In terms of cakes, we are given reference later to the Queen’s tarts. If asked what these are made of most of us would instantly assume jam, but in fact there is no reference to this at all in the novel, and indeed when asked what the tarts are made of, the cook replies mostly pepper, whilst the Dormouse suggests that they are treacle tarts.
These examples go to show that the symbolic nature of the Mad Hatter’s tea party has gone beyond the book itself – it is now a way of epitomising the magical, farcical, ludicrous nature of the book in a situation that we can all relate to. By clashing it with our knowledge of a traditional afternoon tea, with both sweets and savouries on offer, we can turn it into something that conjures up Alice’s world with playing cards and flamingos, top hats and glass teapots, mushrooms and potion bottles. As long as there is good tea, served in teapots and tea cups of course, and some bread and butter, then the essence of Dodgson’s party remains.