About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

So I'm buying Yodels at Pathmark tonight because they're on sale for $1.99 for the "family pack." And I notice it has this extra logo on it, that the package now says "Drakes ... by Hostess," with a note on the back to tell me "Since 1998, Drakes and Hostess have had more in common than bakery-fresh taste. They've both made by the same company. You can taste this dedication to quality in everything we make, from our famous Twinkie and Devil Dog snack cakes..."

For the many of you who do not know, a Drake is (in this context) not a duck but a regional brand of snack cakes (though one with a duck as its mascot), mostly in the Northeast, and as explained at length in the Wikipedia article on the subject without much long-term success when trying to branch out. Interestingly, Drake's was once owned by Borden, which also owned the NE-localized Wise chips brand. A Yodel is their version of a swiss roll, chocolate cake and cream rolled up and wrapped in chocolate frosting. I have always had a soft spot for Yodels, kind of like the timbit thing I was talking about earlier. My older brother has a soft spot for Funny Bones, the article for which has been deleted from the Wiki. Shows him. Devil Dogs were another family favorite. Yankee Doodles and Sunny Doodles were always very blah. Ring Dings were good. My younger brother was just telling me he still thinks highly of the Drake's coffee cake.

To those who do know what a Drake or Yodel is without being told, this double-branding is not good news. It almost has to be seen as the first step toward doing away with the Drake's name entirely, and perhaps selling some of their products under the Hostess name. I guess this wouldn't be a surprise. The ten years since Interstate Baking purchased the Drake's name have not been good for business. The company has been in financial trouble. Brands like this have felt pressure from improved grocery store bakery departments. Now prices of flour and other ingredients are going up. I used to hold out for $1.49 Yodels, and now I have to give in at the rare $1.99 sale, and I cannot conceive that anyone would pay $3.99 for a pack of Yodels.

Even if the rest of the world might not care, Drake's cakes have a warm spot in the heart of those of us who live in the Northeast. As is explained in the Wikipedia article, Drakes cakes were and are kosher, and while some Hostess cakes are now kosher in some bakeries, the pack of Hostess cupcakes I looked at today had pork something or other in the ingredients and would not be safe to take as a hebrew school snack. We did not keep Kosher when I was growing up, and I still don't, but it's always nice to know there's some treat I can bring to the synagogue... I believe Entenmann's has benefited over the years from this same virtue.

If the brands to merge, a HoHo is a lot like a Yodel. Will a Yodel still have a place, or will it have a place only for a while as the Drake's cakes languish and eventually disappear.

Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I just can't conceive that they're changing the Yodels box to put the Hostess logo on because the people at Interstate Baking are having warm loving thoughts for the Drake's name. I had no idea until I started this post that the Drake's heritage dates back to 1888. Will the Drake's logo be around for the 125th or the 130th?


Anonymous said...

I've never commented on a blog in my life but Drakes Cakes are important enough to do so now. I live in Seattle but grew up in NY. I'm home visiting my mom and she bought me my customary several boxes of Drakes Cakes to take back with me to the Pacific NW to my family and friends.

I took one bite of a Ring Ding last night and told me Mom something was wrong. (I had been home at Christmas time and the Ring Dings were just fine!) Sure enough, the box says Drakes by Hostess. I am so sure that they are putting Hostess cream (the very thing that I have disliked about Hostess for all of my life) into the Ring Dings!!!!

I can only say that I am distressed. What am I going to do with all of these boxes of Drakes Cakes with Hostess cream inside??
I emailed Drakes right away and begged them to start using the old recipe. We'll see...

Peat said...

I'm with your brother. Funny Bones are (were?) where it is (was?) at.

Did they stop making them?

Tez Miller said...

If you ever come across them, Tim Tams are kosher: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Tam Rather yummy.

Have a lovely day! :-)

The Brillig Blogger said...

the Funny Bones were on sale for $1.99, too!

Peat said...

I don't think I've eaten a Funny Bone since I was in college.

I think I need to remedy that.

Charlaine said...

It sounds like the same thing that happened to Moon Pies. When I was young, they were wonderful. If you went to the swimming pool, you bought a Moon Pie and an RC cola and you were in snack heaven. When I bought one in a fit of nostalgia a year go, the Moon Pie tasted like flavored cardboard. The fault wasn't due to my tastebuds, but to the quality of the ingredients.

Jean said...

Does anyone remember the large drakes coffee cakes they used to make. They were wonderful. Fresh and so tasty. Not like the small ones that they make today.