"You know you’re getting old when the candles cost more than the cake” is an old joke; however, people older than teenage years usually just have a single candle, or have two or three candles representing the digits (such as “5-0” or “1-0-0"). At a birthday party for comedian Dick Shawn (1923-1987), comedian Carbett Monica (1930-1998) cracked in 1963:
“He’s reached the age where the candles cost more than the cake.”
About a month after this joke appeared in print, comedian Bob Hope (1903-2003) celebrated his 60th birthday, saying “I’m at the age now where the candles cost more than the cake.” The joke has been almost universally credited to Bob Hope, but Corbett Monica said it earlier.
Wikipedia: Corbett Monica
Corbett Monica (June 1, 1930 – July 22, 1998) was an American comedian who appeared 18 times on The Ed Sullivan Show. He also was a regular guest host of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and was one of ‘The Comics’ in the Carnegie Deli of Woody Allen’s 1984 movie, Broadway Danny Rose.
Wikipedia: Bob Hope
Bob Hope, KBE, KCSG, KSS, born Leslie Townes Hope (May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003), was an English-born American comedian, actor, singer and dancer who appeared on Broadway, in vaudeville, movies, television, and on the radio. He was noted for his numerous United Service Organizations (USO) shows entertaining American military personnel—he made 57 tours for the USO between 1942 and 1988. Throughout his long career, he was honored for this work. In 1996, the U.S. Congress declared him the “first and only honorary veteran of the U.S. armed forces.”
Google News Archive
5 April 1963, Beaver County (PA) Times, “Earl Wilson on Gay Broadway,” pg. 13, col. 5:
Comic Dick Shawn had a big birthday party, and Corbett Monica cracked, “He’s reached the age where the candles cost more than the cake.”
29 May 1963, Seattle (WA) Times, “Where There’s Hope There’s Life—Even at 60” (Associated Press), pg. 2, col. 4:
Bob Hope, who still goes like he was 40, turned 60 today.
“I’m at the age now where the candles cost more than the cake,” Hope quipped.
Encyclopedia of Humor
By Joey Adams
New York, NY: Bonanza Books
“At your age — (over) — The candles cost more than the cake.”
OCLC WorldCat record
When the candles cost more than the cake : analysis and recommendations for financing nursing-home care in the twenty-first century
Author: Steven M Lack
Publisher: San Francisco, Calif. : Golden Gate University, 1990.
Dissertation: Thesis (Ph. D.)--Golden Gate University, 1990.
Edition/Format: Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : English
The Greatest Quotations of All-Time
By Anthony St Peter
Xlibris Corporation (Xlibris.com)
You know you are getting old when the candles cost more than the cake. Bob Hope