Etymology [ 'kAk-"wok ] (noun.) 1879. Originally a form of dance that white masters had their slaves perform for them and their audiences as entertainment. The slaveowners considered the spectacle extremely amusing since the dances derived from sophisticated white European aristocracy. As such, slaveowners dressed the slaves in costumes of exaggerated finery, like ridiculously tall tophats and flashy striped pants, and taught the slaves variations of the original dance steps designed as highly comical parodies. Audiences selected their favorites, and the slaves who performed most entertainingly for their masters were rewarded with a piece of cake.