CHICAGO—Though the stock market remains shaky and consumer spending has reached a standstill, the U.S. economy is apparently still robust enough to produce nearly half a dozen television shows about cake. "This flies in the face of basic economic theory," University of Chicago economist John Holloway said Friday, referring to such programs as Ace Of Cakes, Cake Boss, and Last Cake Standing. "Despite the worst recession in a generation, these shows somehow make enough money to pay for sets, celebrity hosts, producers, camera crews—not to mention the cakes themselves—all so people can see a dessert that looks like a Dr. Seuss character." Holloway made it clear, however, that no known mathematical model has yet been able to explain why in the hell anyone would watch those Real Housewives Of Whatever shows.