Snack On That


Childhood snack cakes evoke nostalgia

(Photos by Steve Mosco)

I remember going to school and eagerly anticipating what delicious snack I would find in my lunch box. There is something about an individually wrapped dessert made just for you that made any youngster feel independent. Noisily unwrapping a Ring Ding, Twinkie or Devil Dog before quietly indulging in their sweet, creamy goodness until the bell rang was one of the great joys of elementary school once you grow out of snack time. Years later, I still have a sweet tooth, and brands like Hostess, Drake’s, TastyKake and Little Debbie keep it going. My dad loves Hostess cupcakes and Yankee Doodles and my brother is still as obsessed with Mallomars as he was when he was a kid.

Let’s get down to business. Hostess and Drake’s are without doubt the two biggest names in the snack cake industry. Little Debbie would be third with brownies, soft baked sandwich cookies, seasonal cakes, honey buns, donuts and rolls and TastyKake would come in fourth, with offerings like Butterscotch Krimpets, Kandy Kakes, Donuts, Chocolate Bells, Dreamies and Honey Buns), each bringing comparable versions of their own sweets to the table.

Easily the most recognizable for Hostess is the Twinkie, proclaimed “The snack cake golden child,” by the brand. A lighter than air vanilla cake filled with creamy filling is devoured in a maximum of three bites. Much like the Oreo, the Twinkie has become a friend to the fryer, with staples like fried Twinkies and even chocolate dipped Twinkies popping up at carnivals and on restaurant menus. A close runner up for Hostess is the chocolate cupcake, enrobed in chocolate frosting with a squiggle of icing.

The popular choice at Drake’s is the Yankee Doodle cupcake; just a simple chocolate cake with cream filling, no frosting. Many tend to mix up the treats of both brands as they are similar. For example, Hostess has Ding Dongs while Drake’s has Ring Dings, the same chocolate hockey puck-shaped cake covered in chocolate and filled with cream. Another snack sibling is Hostess Ho Hos versus Drake’s Yodels. There’s no difference here between these two chocolate rolled logs, but if you want to step up your cream-filled game, go for FunnyBones, which are pumped full of peanut butter and elicit delightful moans from lovers of the chocolate and nut combo.

Hostess is also home to Zingers, Chocodiles, and a personal favorite, Snowballs, which marries chocolate and coconut together. Drake’s rounds out the list with Fruit Pies and Devil Dogs, and if that wasn’t enough chocolate, the brand recently launched fudge-dipped Devil Dogs.

So if you’re just not in the mood to bake something from scratch or want to feel like a kid again, grab a snack cake and enjoy the memories of what it felt like to eat dessert before dinner without any regrets.

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