I was exposed to a lot of snack cakes in my childhood, and they were a big contributor to my tubbiness. (What's my excuse now? you ask....) Mostly TastyKakes, which are still my favs - butterscotch Krimpets! chocolate Juniors! Tasty-Klair pies! We'd also have the odd box of Drake's cakes, or, very rarely, Hostess somethingsorother. But never Twinkies. Blech! First of all, they weren't chocolate, and secondly, they had a nasty chemical taste. In fact, all of the Hostess cake-type products tasted too sweet and artificial for the tastebuds in my picky (ok, not very) family. The Hostess cupcakes were nicely decorated, with their swirls of white icing, and the Snoballs were festive, but they didn't taste good, so no thanks. About the only thing that was palatable were the Hostess pies (Neal still likes them) but they also suffered from X-treme Sweetness.
But Drake's cakes - mmmmm! They were primarily chocolate--Ring Dings, Devil Dogs, Yodels--but there were also yummy Coffee Cakes topped with cinnamon streuselly goodness. Honestly, Devil Dogs were my least favorite, because I thought the cake was too dry without the addition of the waxy chocolate coating shared by Ring Dings and Yodels. But I ate them, grateful that they were not a Hostess Suzy-Q, one of those cakes that had so much sugar in them, it came out of solution and made them unpleasantly crunchy.
Then there was the Holy Grail of snack cakes. During the Peanuts specials, there were always ads for Dolly Madison products, and I was desperate to try them. If they were good enough for Charlie Brown and Linus, they had to be delicious! They didn't seem to be sold in the Baltimore area, but I once snagged a Zinger on an out of town trip. It was vile, and I was sorely disappointed that I had fallen for the cruel joke played on me by commercial television.
It is interesting that now Drakes, Dolly Madison, and Hostess are all owned by the same parent company, Interstate Bakeries Corporation. I haven't had any of the above for well over a decade, and I wonder if they've all started to taste alike.
And don't let me forget Little Debbie! Ok, so I'd love to forget Little Debbie! Especially the Oatmeal Pies. (gag) My mother adored those nasty patties of unnaturally squashy cookies filled with white ooze and always kept a box or two on hand. I always thought that Little Debbie looked like a Little Hick and am surprised that the company hasn't gone the way of Betty Crocker and Aunt Jemima and modernized their fictional icon. Even if they do, in the future, it will not improve the flavor or texture of their products.
I haven't had a TastyKake in a number of years, and hope they haven't changed their formulas to better resemble their lesser companions on the grocery store shelves. Perhaps I'll keep an eye out for a seasonal favorite of mine, pumpkin pie. Or maybe I'll just grab a package of peanut butter KandyKakes and remember how I never had to share them with my peanut-allergic little brother.
What was your favorite snack cake as a kid? Leave a comment and let me know.