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Drake’s Finally Returns!

September 23, 2013


Went out on Monday night, the promised date of the 23rd (just now), and both “Food Bazaar” (Bogopa) supermarkets had them. For Hostess, it would take weeks for them to show up there, and they couldn’t be found anywhere I looked the first week, and then they would be sold out when finally appearing in Target and Duane Reade. But the Drake’s are still fully stocked, in their own space, taking up all the shelves of the fixture (as shown).

So I started with Devil Dogs. Tastes just as they did before! (Even though they promised they would, there was still this nagging fear they would nevertheless end up as just Little Debbie “Devil Cremes” under a new label).
Though my wife says the icing tastes different. As an “introverted Sensor” (SJ) she’s more aware of sensory subtleties than I am. Not sure if she’s comparing them to the last ones we had in December, or just how they were back in the day.
That latter difference I notice too. As I’ve said elsewhere, there was nothing like coming home from college and loading up a bag of them, after not having them (down South) for months! The use of corn syrup instead of sugar is probably the biggest factor. (Though sugar is still listed). The taste is basically “syrupy”, and has an aftertaste. But then this is just how I remember them for the last few decades or so up until a year ago.

Inside the box, the cakes are wrapped individually, and fully marked for individual sale! So they can theoretically appear individually in corner stores at any time.

OF course, finally gone is the “By Hostess” logo in the front, and now, the McKee logo appears above the company address in the back.
Also gone is the Borden-assigned old UPC mfr code of 41261, and McKee’s 24300 is adopted; 1200 series for the boxes, and 1400’s for the individual cakes. (Devil Dogs=1201/1401, and the others run from 02-04).

Unlike the Twinkies I got, and tasted a couple and left the box in the crew room at work (avoiding wheat and sugar as much as possible, remember), I’m not doing this with my Drake’s. (Only 8 in a box; my wife and I just had one a piece, so I’ll try to spread the rest out, so it’s not too much affect on the blood sugar).
When I get paid, then I’ll try the Yodels. (Won’t try Ring Dings, because they basically are Yodels in a different shape and I always leaned toward Yodels for some reason; and I won’t bother with Coffee Cakes right now, because I was never really big on them, and actually always preferred Hostess).

On the Facebook page, people have really continued to clamor for Funny Bones (Never into these because I never liked peanut butter sweets, but they are a unique product and should be brought back). People from all over the country (where Hostess had spread them, or people who simply grew up with then in the northeast remember them) are also asking for Drakes to come to their areas.

And I of course also want Yankee Doodles and Sunny Doodles to come back (the only “homemade” style cupcakes among the major brands, with the paper baking cups, and the simple “risen” top with icing hole visible not having the top flattened and covered with icing like the Hostess cupcake with the swirl and all its imitators. The taste was very unique as well, the devil’s food likely using the same or similar formula as Devil Dogs, and the yellow cake tasting like common pound cake). As well as their own version of Swiss Rolls (which again was one large roll with a lot of creme, but without any frosting, and at times, there were two smaller ones. This different from what LD and others calls “swiss roll”, which again is more like a funny tasting Yodel).
Not that I’ll even be eating a lot of this, with my diet and all. But good to have around for that occasional treat.

So now, we have the new Drake’s website: http://www.drakescake.com and on Wednesday, a new “product locator” will go online. On the “Products” page http://www.drakescake.com/www/cakes, we also see in addition to the four original products returning, several existing Little Debbie products will be branded as well (though they’re not in the store yet):

Honey Buns
Blueberry Muffins
Banana Nut Muffins
Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
Blueberry Mini Muffins
Cherry Cheese Danish Pastry
Cheese Danish Pastry

You also see “Zoinks “, which was Drake’s name for their imitation Twinkies. (Which before this 1987 rechristening were known as “Shortcakes”, and also came with different flavored cremes).
These are obviously a rebranded “Cloud Cakes” (I thought that was a cool name they should have kept. Like Tastykakes have adopted Flowers’ “Dreamies” from their third party “Mrs Freshley” label; where the first party “Bluebird” brand uses the old “Bingles” monker). “Zoinks” I always thought was silly, ripping off Shaggy’s exclamation from Scooby Doo.

Even though Little Debbies are generally sweeter than Drakes (and most everything else), they always did remind me of Drake’s for some reason, in having such unique tastes. So hopefully, they will go together well, and McKee will resume spreading Drake’s everywhere (at least a few on Little Debbie shelves if nothing else), and not just the original northeast 11 states.

So since they are doing the third party rebranding (as I had hoped they would), then I would like to see:

•Banana Twins, or perhaps a banana roll, like the old swiss roll, but using the current Banana Twin recipe.
•Zebra Cakes (two smaller ones in a pack like in the family pack boxes). Perhaps round them into vanilla Ring Dings. (Someone posted an old ad or something, and it seemed Drake’s once had something like this, including with the chocolate stripes!)
•Banana Pudding Rolls
•Apple Delights
•Perhaps also Fancy Cakes (which are white cake) and Frosted Fudge Cakes

The idea would create more balance in Drake’s, since they are heavy on the chocolate side.

I was also saying Apple Danish, but I finally got to try this one (finally saw it in a single pack), but it’s too “bread-y” tasting and didn’t taste the apple enough for me).

I would also say, to differentiate products between both brands (If ever sold on the same shelves):
•Devil Cremes – Change back into Devil Twins to avoid confusion with Devil Dogs
•Swiss Rolls – Change into Boston/Banana sized rolls to avoid confusion with Yodels
•Cocoa Cremes – Replace with Ring Dings or change shape

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23 Comments
  1. Just got the Yodels, from a smaller supermarket (Associated). Also tastes as good as before. Icing same color, lustre and texture!

    Inside the box are pairs in fully marked packs.

    The locator is up and working: http://www.drakescakes.com/www/findlocation
    (Wasn’t working yesterday when it went online, and I first tried it).

    So Drake’s are finally back, no longer under archcompetitor Hostess’s wing! Now just hoping they sell and do well, and that they eventually come back out with the Yankee and Sunny Doodles (and for everyone else’s sake, the Funny Bones), and begin reexpanding .

    Also found this other “Drake’s” brand (don’t know if it’s still around):

  2. The rebranded products (Zoinks, muffins, honey bun, cherry danish) now starting to appear. (Saw in Key Food and Target, Queens Blvd). Seem to be in all big stores now, except the K-Mart. But then I don’t think they had Drake’s before, so they may not get them. They do have Little Debbie, and it seems some space was emptied out, so not sure if they’ll get them. (Meanwhile, they do have a full Schmidt bread stand topped off with a Schmidt Baking Co. sign, which you’d expect in the Midatlantic. Also, the Christmas tree for sale are up already, and the new thing they have is “Color Switch”, which is a multicolor LED set that alternates between the standard five color red/amber/green/blue/purple, and then becomes all white (2700K). Can be set or switch back and forth).

    Was also told in a newstand that has Little Debbie that they were told Drake’s would not be available in individual packs for now.

  3. So now, I’ve seen a deli store that bought the boxes of Drake’s and opened them up for individual sale. I imagine what I had been told before meant that the company won’t deliver packs to stores on its own, however the stores themselves are free to open the boxes. So it was good that the packs were marked for individual sale. (Some bodegas do this even when the packs are not marked).

    So I got to try the coffee cakes, which are two little ones in a pack (as they always had been in the boxes) rather than the one big one.
    They too taste the same as before, which is still too dry for me. Drake’s are generally drier than most other brands (the now parent Little Debbie is an exception, and people I once asked in Florida about Drake’s complained that they were too dry), which was good for devil’s food, but for the coffee cakes, I preferred more moist; hence, Hostess.
    Though before I really tried to cut out wheat, I had made the coffee cakes apart of a daily snack for some reason. Perhaps because it was something new for me, and it seemed like it would be less sugary than the creme filled stuff, as I was already trying to cut the sugar.

    The mini muffins come in this opaque white little bag.
    The prices (marked by the store) were 75¢ or 99¢ depending on whether its one or two cakes in a pack.

    Just found this article;

    McKee sees Drake’s snack cakes increasing footprint
    http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Business_News/2013/09/McKee_sees_Drakes_snack_cakes.aspx?ID=%7B1CB9020B-0DB6-4B30-B9BC-89CFB573FFC4%7D&cck=1

    McKee kick-started the relaunch with the roll-out of the top four selling varieties of Drake’s snack cakes on Sept. 23, a move Mike Gloekler, director of communications at McKee Foods, told Milling & Baking News was made because the company knew it could get those products “out quickly.”

    The company already makes Devil Cremes, Swiss Rolls and Cocoa Cremes under the Little Debbie brand, and those products are similar to certain Drake’s snack cakes brands. Offering his personal opinion on how the Little Debbie and Drake’s cakes compare, Mr. Gloekler said he thinks Little Debbie products are “a little sweeter” while the creme filling in the Drake’s cakes is “a little creamier.” The chocolate enrobing is “quite different” between the two, he added.

    One Drake’s product that isn’t part of the initial roll-out is Funny Bones… Mr. Gloekler said Funny Bones are a challenge because of the inclusion of peanut butter.

    “It’s not cost effective to run alongside our current equipment,” he said. “That product almost needs its own dedicated line.”

    McKee currently offers Peanut Butter Crunch Bars and Nutty Bars (which include peanut butter), but Mr. Gloekler said the Little Debbie products are wafers, which require different equipment then the cake-based Funny Bones.

  4. While McKee said their promotion wouldn’t be as big as Hostess (No “9.23.13” sitting high over Times Sq), there was still this huge mural under Columbus Circle I didn’t even know about until I stumbled upon it yesterday:


    Also, several delis and bodegas are opening the boxes and selling them individually.
    So Drake’s are finally back in the corner stores. (Meanwhile, Walgreens/DuaneReade and 7-Eleven are the main places to find Hostess sold individually).

    In other cake news, in one of the stores that had the Drake’s individually, I noticed that Mrs. Freshley’s banana pudding cupcakes are being sold in two-packs. I had hoped Bluebird/Tastykake would begin carrying at least the boxes of them.

    (Mrs Freshley is distributed by the same carrier as Joey’s, a small line of cakes based out of Newark. Joey’s might be the distributor itself. This is what had taken over the old Hostess/Drake’s shelf fixtures in many stores, and they are still there, as Drake’s have been set up on all new wire racks, with the cakes sitting in the opened boxes. This is separate from Operative Cake Co. also now in NJ, which still has some Lady Linda products, most made by Prince Donuts. Operative used to be the main distributor of Flowers cakes in the bodegas, under the third partly label predecessor to Mrs Freshley, “Aunt Hannah”, or its own Lady Linda. Perhaps Joey’s is the successor to Sheppard Baking Co., which carried Flower’s “Mountain Farm” or its own “Betty Jane” label in other stores).

    • This space has finally been put to retail use, as the new “Turnstyle” mini-mall:

  5. While not Drake’s, yesterday, I finally saw and tried yet another victim of the fall of Hostess: Zingers. A Duane Reade had individual packs of the yellow ones. They too were just as they were before the shutdown, including being very dry compared to years ago. (Chocolate and raspberry coconut are planned to return too).
    While it was known they would come back too, I hadn’t seen any sign of it yet.

    So it’s basically RIP to Dolly Madison. Zingers, its sole remaining product, will now forever be integrated into the Hostess family. (Before the shutdown, Zingers could be found in both Hostess or Dolly labels, depending on the distributor). Hostess and Dolly Madison had been the national archrivals. Even though it was Dolly who bought out Hostess, Hostess is the brand that triumphed.

    So glad this didn’t happen to Drake’s!
    Most of Dolly’s other products were either copies of Hostess (like the cupcake, which was chocolate only), and others, from what I remember, were just variations of Ding Dongs (different shapes or icing flavors). The streusel cakes were a bit different (square, for one thing, and an interesting taste), and the pies, while just like Hostess, came in this nicely printed wrapper covered in colorful pictures of the featured fruit.

    I first heard of them around fourth grade, when my mother placed a pack of Zingers in with my lunch. The old label was familiar for having the Peanuts characters.
    Only the most common Dolly Madisons were distributed in NYC, by Operative, and under the Blue Ribbon brand, by Sheppard, but the DC/Baltimore area I was exploring in the 80’s had a huge Dolly Madison presence in the 7-Elevens, and Richmond had a distributor, with a thrift shop up on 21st St, Churchill. Spring ’86, they tried to move into Norfolk, just as I was about to leave the area (in 7-Eleven, they had to squeeze them in next to the Hostess and Tastykakes), but I don’t think they lasted very long there.
    So I saw their whole line of products in these places, and it wasn’t really much to write home about (hence me not even remembering them well).

    They had also a few years later purchased American Baking Co. and its Mickey Cakes. These were also pretty much the same stuff. Chocolate-only Hostess cupcake knockoff with the swirl on top. I also still have the wrapper from the Ding Dongs imitation, called “Choc-O,s”. (An interesting, unique name, but called “Boom Booms” in the picture, below). The “finger” cake was “Creme Boats”, which were a bit wider and flatter than Twinkies, and also had a raspberry striped version (though they look like Twinkies, but with rounded or apparently “risen” tops, in the picture).
    They also had a banana flip (in the picture), which tasted much better than the gritty Flowers version that was common in that day. (It had apparently replaced something called the Banana Dream, which was a spice cake cup filled with banana creme. Sounded really good, and the one thing a lot of people miss).
    There were creme horns, like Flowers’ Creme Twirls, but these surprisingly had no animal fats, like nearly all other Mickey or Flowers products (and Dolly Madison, and Hostess), especially the pies. The horns were flaky as well, and lard was supposed to make it like this, but it shows that it was possible without it. Another unique product (which I either never saw or never tried, I don’t think) was the Devil Delight, which was a sandwich cake similar to Suzy Q’s, but were round (also in the picture).

    A few of these did survive integration into Dolly Madison; most notably the banana flip. The Creme Boats then began to be identical to Twinkies. (This yet before the acquisition of Hostess, mind you).

    But now it seems Zingers will be the sole survivor out of both of those brands, and the brands themselves will be gone for good. I kind of wish the Dolly line, at least the Zingers, had been picked up by McKee as well. Zingers would fit in since they were so sweet like Little Debbies. Hostess didn’t need another famous franchise. I would also be asking them to bring back both the banana flip and the Banana Dream. The banana flips tasted pretty much like LD’s Banana Twins, so that would have been easy for them to recreate.

  6. The Drake’s Facebook group came up with a sweepstakes to win free cakes. Just post what makes Drake’s special. This is what I said:

    Unique taste, unique products.

    Hostess and Drake’s came up side by side, and while Hostess went national and Drake’s didn’t, every one else copied Hostess, and Hostess even copied Drake’s products like Ring Dings and HoHos, and then most everyone who copied those copied Hostess’ formula. They also copied Hostess’ familiar cupcake with the swirl on top of the icing.

    Drake’s devil’s food had a nice smooth taste and texture different from the “heavier”[?] cake used by all the others (even better the LESS fresh it was!)
    The cupcakes, “Yankee Doodles”, were totally different from all the others, with the homemade look baked in paper cups, with the unfrosted risen top with the creme hole visible.
    Devil Dogs was the same cake or similar, but shaped to look like a hot dog. Just as iconic as the Twinkie, to me. (Suzy Q’s seems to be the knockoff of that, and they are good, but still uses that same heavier chocolate).

    Drake’s yellow cake (used for Sunny Doodles and the original “Zoinks” or Shortcakes) was also different from the yellow cake used by all the others, and tasted more like pound cake. Shortcakes originally came with strawberry, banana and even chocolate creme.

    Swiss Rolls was also unique, as being unfrosted, larger (usually), and having a thicker layer of creme.

    Even though I don’t like peanut butter snacks, Funny Bones were also a very unique product (apparently which is why it is so hard to find a plant for them to get started back up from).

    They were also one of a few line of cakes that did not use animal fat (yuck!)

    When I went down south and couldn’t find all this stuff, I looked all over the place, and then couldn’t wait to come home for the holidays to eat them.

    So I think the other three or four core products mentioned above should be brought back, and expansion beyond the original northeast states resume (even if just a few on Little Debbie racks). They should be everywhere.
    ———————–
    On the Cartoon Research group, a discussion on the Dolly Madison Cakes sponsored original airing of Charlie Brown Thanksgiving turned into a discussion on Drakes (Wonder who could have done that!) and someone posted a picture of the original box for Zoinks:

    I then responded:
    I remember that. It was ’87, I worked at the Macy’s flagship (Around this time of the year), was on lunch, went into a deli across the street and saw the individual packs. (Don’t think I remember that box, but the packs had that bright red logo).

    With all that red, you would have thought they brought the strawberry creme back, which they previously had under the name “Shortcakes”, along with banana and chocolate creme versions, but that was never to be seen again (tasted similar to Tastykake’s jelly Krimpets except for being creme and not jelly).
    So it was just plain vanilla creme, and tasted identical to Sunny Doodles (not like the Little Debbie produced ones today). I thought the name was silly, ripping off Shaggy from Scooby. I had hoped if Little Debbie did start rebranding their products, they would just keep it “Cloud Cakes”, so I was shocked that they brought this back.
    ——–
    In other news, K-Mart finally did get Drakes, in the right side of the Little Debbie end-cap fixture as I thought they might when it was empty weeks ago. And I also finally saw then in the Atlantic Terminal Target when stopping there to get the RGB lights and my wife asked for a box of Yodels.


  7. Drake’s put out this nice Christmas colored version of their logo for Facebook. The regular logo is similar opposite colors blue and orange, so now the blue becomes green, and orange becomes red.

    I had said they should have branded the Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes, using this logo.

    Also, tried chocolate Zingers, which I saw at RXR Plaza on Long Island, where they have their own little “Rockefeller Center” with a rink and a tree. The little newsstand/candy/card shop there had never had regular snack cakes as far as I remember, but now has Hostess, and I think this is the first time I’ve seen and tried the chocolate Zingers since coming back out. Suzy Q’s is what I’m still waiting for.

  8. Little Debbie currently categorizes its products on the website:

    Brownies
    Cakes (the standard creme-filled products)
    Cookies (mostly the creme sandwiches, but with marshmallow and jelly creme “pies” also)
    Donuts (including donut sticks)
    Muffins
    Pastries (the danishes, streusels, honey buns and pecan spins)
    Pies (the standard glazed rectangular with fruit or chocolate filling)
    Snack Bars (candy bar like filled products, and also marshmallow rice “treats”, fig, wafers)

    There’s also “Seasonal”, which currently has Summer (ocean/beach) themed cakes and cookies.
    I also see now that the Delight cookies (apple, strawberry) are now under the Fieldstone brand along with some health bars, and sharing several of the bars, cookies and pastries Little Debbie also has.

    If I owned the company, I would divide the eight Little Debbie categories, and the standard “snack cake brand” line of cakes, donuts, pastries and pies would go to Drake’s, and the muffins (and the “little” snacks): the brownies, cookies and snack bars, would remain “Little” Debbie.

    Again, I would do away with the Hostess-imitation cupcakes and Cocoa Cremes (to replace with Yankee Doodles, and Ring Dings, of course), and the Devil Cremes would lose the imitation Devil Dog size and rounded edges to become Devil Twins again.

    So then Drake’s would inherit the Little Debbie formulas for unique products like Zebra Cakes (a nice “opposite” of sorts of Ring Dings”), Banana Twins and Creme Rolls, and the four square cakes (including the all white “fancy Cakes”, the all chocolate Frosted Fudge Cakes, Chocolate Chip Cakes, with white frosting and creme and chocolate cake, and the opposite plain Devil Squares). I would then bring back Drake’s Swiss Rolls, and make a banana yellow cake roll based on the Banana Twins as a companion.

    However, the current Little Debbie Swiss Rolls then could remain Little Debbie, to differentiate from both Yodels and the Drake’s Swiss Roll.
    I would likely keep Cloud Cakes/Zoinks, because they actually taste slightly more like classic Twinkies than the current Twinkies do. It’s the sugariness of the creme, where Twinkies now uses a smoother more syrupy tasting creme. Cloud Cake is slightly denser, though, where Twinkies retain the classic texture.
    Or if they insisted in keeping cupcakes and Cocoa Cremes, they too would remain Little Debbies.

    I know the company wouldn’t want to deprecate their original brand like this in favor of the new acquisition. Perhaps if they themselves got bought out (and thus owned by a “neutral” party).
    Orograin always seemed like a natural parent of Drake’s, and then it would be aligned with its long time [and NYC-based] whole cake cousin Entennmann’s. (And also Bimbo/Marinellas products. Their Twinkie-shaped “Submarinos” come in strawberry creme, and thus like the old Drake’s Shortcakes, though the Submarinos have like no taste.
    It would also be co-owned with Break Cakes, though that is defunct by now, and also the Texas-based Mrs. Baird’s, who once made their own Devil Dogs. (so they could make them again and not have to deal with any trademark problem).

  9. BobbyBouchee permalink

    McKee will likely never get rid of their current Swiss Roll or Chocolate cupcakes in the LD line , as they are two of their top sellers. Also, they have grown the LD bagged powdered and chocolate donuts to be at the top of the market in terms of share, albeit they are introducing those flavors in under the Drakes label in the near future.

    • Oh, OK. I was thinking cupcakes were fairly new, and seemingly identical to Hostess, so they were probably expendable. When you think of the top (and classic) Little Debbies, obviously, the Swiss Rolls, and also the Zebra cakes.

      What I want to see avoided is them saying they can’t restore more Drake’s products (like Yankee and Sunny Doodles), because they are at production capacity or something like that. So Yankee Doodles are more original than the imitation Hostess cupcakes, and Ring Dings are more original than Cocoa Cremes; so I figured maybe if they get rid of some of the Hostess knockoffs, since they now own the Drake’s. (Swiss Rolls have their own original taste, so I’ve never said they should be replaced; perhaps changed into the [larger] size of their other three rolls).
      I guess the problem Drake’s had in earlier expansion plans was people not being used to them, so I could see where the rest of the country might prefer the Hostess knockoffs, since those are what nearly everyone else copies. But at least in the northeast they could try some readjustment to squeeze the other Drake’s products in.

  10. Now they come up with this nice graphic:

    Amidst the usual demanding of Funny bones, and occasionally Yankee Doodles and Swiss Rolls (the one’s I’m waiting for), the host says “we are planning to bring back several Drake’s favorites.”
    Hope it’s true.

  11. A friend sent a link to a story showing that Hostess Chocodiles are coming back.

    I had already seen banana Twinkies in boxes in some stores, and now checking their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/Hostess I see the strawberry ones are also back as well. (Those to remind me of the original Drake’s “Shortcakes”, which were among the most unique tasting things I missed in college.
    Wonder if they’ll ever do again the strawberry cupcakes that were prominent when the old company went down).

    Just like all the Drake’s fans incessantly demand Funny Bones; on the Hostess page, fans demand Suzy Q’s (which I had been looking for), but the host (company representative) said there were no plans.
    (Every time I go there, I see the post demanding Devil Dogs, not realizing it is another company).

  12. Found this on a Hostess rack a week ago. With the funny solid colored label, I at first thought it was some other cake (like Marinellas or something), and saw the picture of a Zinger (which is what I was looking for), and figured it was a knockoff, but then noticed the big “MADISON”. There was also the round “chocolate creme filled cake”, which would be the same as the Ding Dong.

    Cool that they brought back a retro label.

    Also, see that the chocolate creme Twinkies are coming back too. So all three “neapolitan ice cream” flavors plus banana; and what Drake’s ShortCakes originally started as (before becoming the vanilla only “Zoinks”).

  13. Sudden news last week of the Fruit Pies coming back this week (apple and cherry), and today finally saw them (boxes in the supermarket, and individual, though the ones not marked for individual sale, in a corner store).
    At first, I wondered if it might be simply the Little Debbies rebranded, but it was the same two half pies.

    I was actually never big on pies, because they are all too sweet! (So except for the unique size, they could have well pulled off rebranding Little Debbies as far as I was concerned, for they all taste the same to me).
    [Edit: what I sometime afterward would start seeing instead, was perhaps the opposite: a square half pie resembling Drake’s, being sold (singularly) as Little Debbie!]

    So after nearly a year back in production, they finally expand with another old product. Makes me think I should become like all the Funny Bones fans and begin demanding “YANKEE/SUNNY DOODLES!” every day. Those were the most unique products, to me.
    You would think those would have been next (apart from them claiming not to be able to resolve the peanut issue for the Funny Bones), so who knows what determines what and when to reintroduce something.
    Will it be another year before something else comes back out?

    Also, figured out how to streamline the Cocoa Cremes. I had earlier suggested changing the shape; well they are already pretty much round versions of the Devil Squares. So just sell Devil Squares, and add single two-pack units tro replace the Cocoa Cremes.

  14. OK, finally, FUNNY BONES RETURNS! I heard last week that they would be returning this Friday. But when I checked the FB page last night to see if there was any word for sure (they even had a little clock graphic saying “Almost here” and captioned “Coming to shelves this fall!”), I saw some people saying they were seeing them. So today, I check, and sure enough, they’re back! (box UPC #01207).

    http://www.bakingbusiness.com/articles/news_home/New_Products/2015/10/Drakes_Funny_Bones_revived_by.aspx?ID=48BD040D-F542-4ABF-9519-E9C0C8369D6A

    I myself don’t like peanut butter sweets, recall, but now all those fans can finally lay off, and now us Yankee Doodle lovers can start up more. (I wish it wasn’t only one product added per year).

    As for expansion (the other thing people are waiting for), a couple of weeks ago, someone in Chattanooga reported seeing Drake’s in the local Little Debbie “outlet” store there. So perhaps people in other areas could also check their outlet stores. Bakery thrift stores often carry products including whole brands they own that they don’t distribute in the local retailers. And if they don’t have them, then ask the outlet to get them. It would be a great way of establishing a “demand” base without the risk involved for the company in expanding to the whole area first. If it works, then they would see the demand to expand, and if not, at least the small base of Drake’s consumers would have a close by place to get them.

    In other bakery brand news, I’ve seen a whole line of Hostess BREAD in a Duane Reade. Recall, they’re not related to Wonder anymore, but apparently they wanted to get back into the bread business, so they simply expanded their familiar cake brand.

    See that this was announced at the beginning of the summer:

    Metropoulos moves Hostess into bread, bun market
    http://www.bakingbusiness.com/articles/news_home/Business/2015/06/Metropoulos_moves_Hostess_into.aspx?ID=%7BA6282207-02DA-4204-8E1E-77641AEB68F2%7D&cck=1

  15. Right as Funny Bones finally returns, I go into the corner store (to see if they have a 2032 button cell for my glucose meter), and what’s sitting there in the rows of cakes, but packs of SUZY Q’s!
    So they finally brought those back, even after there seemed to be no sign of Metroupolous even thinking of them. On the FB page, people continued asking for them, and back in June, when they were still promotng “minions” Twinkies, the host began alluding to a return, telling requesters “tell us what you’d do for a Suzy Q…using #SQEatenHere.” Now that they’re out, there was no announcement on the page; only [aside from promotions of their fall/Halloween products], people continuing to ask for them, and some people responding that they are in fact out.
    As several have said, they are a bit smaller and also drier. Also, not quite as much creme as before.

    (People on the Drakes page have often requested Suzy Q’s, not realizing that they are Hostess; likely their answer to the Devil Dogs!)

  16. Hot on the heels of the Funny Bones return, Drakes FB page announces “We’re bringing back another Drake’s Classic”, raising everyone’s excitement, and the speculation of whether it’s Yankee Doodles (the next logical choice) or Swiss Rolls.

    (There was another post mentioning something about an expansion to a new state, and then someone comes with a rumor that they’re returning to Tampa, but I don’t know where he heard that from).

    A week or so later, we get a post with this image:

    It’s obvious what that is, as you can see the letters, and “Yodels” are already out, aside from it eing much longer than that name. Yet, people also saw the “8” count, where Yankee Doodles are 12 pack, so tey continued to think it was Swiss Rolls (bot those were actuually 4 packs).

    So then I periodically search for any news on this, and then run across the item already being sold on drakescakesonline.com, and even Amazon, complete with the “8” count:

    Noooooooooooooo!

    They took the image from the old box, and shopped the frosting on it, and did away with the paper cup as well. I’ve lost my excitement.
    And I hope it’s not simply Little Debbie cupcakes rebranded, like they did with the Zoinks (Cloud Cakes). I don’t see why else they would add frosting to it, instead of bringing back the original first. (And it would explain it coming out so fast, when it’s usually one per year. And being individually wrapped also seems to go along with that, as LD’s cupcakes are. Some stores take them out of the box and sell them separately at 50¢. I’ll probably get one of those when I first try these new “Yankee Doodles”, to see if they’re the same thing).
    You could get away with that with Zoinks, because that was just a fake Twinkie, and not a unique and popular core Drake’s product (aside from it using the same formula as Sunny Doodles). Drake’s chocolate is so different from everyone else. They should at least use the Devil Dogs formula. (Recall, I had wished they would scale down the cupcakes to make room for Yankee Doodles, since the cupcakes are just knockoffs of the original Hostess design, and the chocolate tastes pretty much the same. But someone said the cupcakes do well).

    If they want to sell the cupcakes as Drake’s, that’s one thing (Culinar did it, side by side with Yankee Doodles), but not to call them Yankee Doodles! (and not in place of of real Yankee Doodles). They should know Drake’s fans by now! They’ll never go for that! Did they already forget the drubbing the FB page got over Funny Bones being withheld?

    The drakescakesonline site still has the original up, though warns it’s “not released from the bakery” yet, which sounds like it’s coming out too, though they say if you try to purchase it, they’ll just refund you, which sounds like it’s not on the horizon, and considering they’ve already got a March 1st shipment date for the frosted ones.

    So we’ll see how these taste.

  17. OK, so they’re back out now! (I thought they were coming out March 1st based on those order sites). Checked a supermarket, they had the 8pack, and then I went to a corner store to get a single Little Debbie cupcake, to compare, and it turns out, they had the two packs of the Yankee Doodles I could have gotten in case I didn’t like them. Oh well. I took the chance rather than bothering with returning them.

    They do smell different, and are lighter in color, pretty much like the original. The texture is more like the standard LD/Hostess/et.al. The taste is different from LD (a bit tastier, like the Yankee Doodles), but I would say still not quite the original. I can even pick up a hint of LD “Devil Creme” (the imitation Devil Dogs). Also reminds me a lot of Oreos! I think it might be the texture that is making it taste different. (I made sure to try a piece without the frosting first). It’s supposed to be lighter and fluffier, basically like the Devil Dogs.

    What I think they did is simply try to run them through the existing LD cupcake machinery, and it was easier to keep the frosting. (So I assume. Is there no way to run a batch of cakes through the line and turn off or skip the frosting?)

    Part of the different texture was likely from the paper baking cups, which require no greasing. So that makes them drier and lighter tasting. The grease and the direct contact with the bare baking pan metal is what makes all of those cupcakes have that texture, at least on the outside.

    I really think they should try to go back to the paper cups, and either ditch the frosting, or keep it as just a variation.
    (So now, I wonder if they will try to do likewise with the Sunny Doodles, as someone wondered. That would be interesting, as they currently have no yellow cupcakes. But still, we all want the originals back).


    Edit: In other news, someone posted the address of the original Brooklyn bakery, which was 77 Clinton Avenue in another of a recurring Drake’s FB post https://www.facebook.com/Drakes/photos/a.186011358218001.1073741828.169814603171010/558776260941507
    So on Google, I found the building matching the one in the old photo. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/435864070167363854/ I knew it was in that area, but never knew which building, and for some reason thought it was one of the older looking factories along the elevated BQE (over Park Ave).
    It’s now the Benjamin Banneker high school Academy.

  18. When one of the View cohosts mention “Yodels”, and the other guest (Paula) doesn’t know what they are, I post Drake’s most recent FB post (pitching Yodels) links:
    https://www.facebook.com/Drakes/photos/a.186011358218001.1073741828.169814603171010/601097450042721/ to the show’s page. This starts a discussion with one person pointing out they’re not in Chicago, and another now realizing what they are, in comparison to Hostess HoHo’s and other’s “swiss rolls”. I of course explain why they’re not national.

    The latter person eventually points out “I’m not a fan of Devil’s Food… I like the Swiss Cake Rolls because they’re not Devils food. To each their own.”

    So then, I suddenly realize: “Maybe that’s it”. I forgot the actual difference, and thought it was all “devil’s food”, but I’m seeing the other brands all just say ‘chocolate’ (except for Little Debbie’s ‘Devil Cremes’, which are just Drake’s Devil Dog knockoffs anyway).”
    Meanwhile, all of Drake’s chocolate products said “devil’s food”.
    It also explains why the newfangled “Yankee Doodles” taste like Devil Cremes. That’s the devil’s food of the original Drake’s product, being adapted to the conventional cupcake baking process (which again, has apparently changed the texture. Still wonder if it’s the actual Drake’s formula, or they just used their own Devil Creme mix, which doesn’t make sense, since the similar Devil Dogs use the right mix. But again, it may be from the texture and the added frosting. In any case, we can just sum up the current “Yankee Doodles” as “devil’s food versions of Little Debbbie cupcakes”).

    This also shed light into why people across the nation were slow to take on Drake’s, in the previous attempts to expand them. Even in Orlando a decade ago, where they were long estalished, but Hostess was suspending distrbution of them there, the lady in the Merita [former ABC/IBC] thrift store said they were “too dry”. So I guess, people are used to regular “chocolate cake”, and not used to “devil’s food”, like this FB commenter this morning. Speaking of ABC, Mickey’s once had a round sandwich cake called “Devil’s Delite”, and since all of that brand’s products have fallen by the wayside in the IBC takeover and Hostess merger, I, musing how fortunate this didn’t happen to Drake’s, figured it was probably no real loss, since the chocolate probably tasted like everything else anyway. But if it was devil’s food, this now raises the question of what they really tasted like after all. Also, Texas’ Mrs. Baird’s (now in the Orogain/Bimbo group) a long time ago had their own Devil Dogs. I figured those probably tasted like everything else, but now wonder what they must have really tasted like. I imagine, probably more like Little Debbie’s version).
    The last, “sweetest comeback” incarnation of Suzy Q’s also say “chocolate”, and from the pictures of old boxes available now, I can’t see what they were designated as, but recall, from above, they tasted nothing like they once did, and I’m wondering if the difference is the old ones being devil’s food (which the incomplete Wikipedia article seems to assume). That would explain why I liked them so much. (Like the most Drake’s-like of the Hostess line). And it would make sense, as Hostess’ answer to Devil Dogs.

    And then, at some point, Hostess began making Yankee Doodles with the regular chocolate, and they were different (and thankfully changed back).
    However, I had also pointed, out, a lot of people in different regions are demanding them to be sold in their areas, as well!

    This article explains the difference of devil’s food cake:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil%27s_food_cake

  19. Decided to call McKee and ask directly what was the deal with the new “Yankee Doodles”, and if it were some technical/mechanical reason, whare they had to make them like Little Debbie cupcakes.
    The person told me it was actually by demand! Find that hard to imagine, as everyone on Facebook wants the original. Who were these silent people who’ve been [I imagine] writing in asking for frosting and plastic instead of paper cups?

    She did say this was in fact the original formula (and I pointed out that the texture is completely changed, confirming for me it must be the baking process that changed the taste). So she took it as a request for the old Yankee Doodles, and also said there were no plans for Sunny Doodles right now.

  20. Apparently, they finally expanded, and using their zip code locator, they extend down as far down as Myrtle Beach, SC, in the eastern portion of the Carolinas, and as far west as Roanoke, and also Pittsburgh and Buffalo back up north (which is beyond their original area in NY and PA. Not in Erie, though. They’re not anywhere around McKee headquarters in TN, though they were not long ago reported in a Chattanooga Little Debbie outlet [see above]. The locator is probably not counting outlets). They’ve also returned to most of Florida (but not the Keys). From the panhandle, they’ve actually spread into southern Alabama and a couple of towns in SW Georgia! (I had to explain to someone why they would be in FL when the company told them Charleston, SC was “too far south”). They are also listed in one store (Tower Deli) in the River Park Tower of the Loyola University campus in Chicago.

    Chains I see a lot are Target, Walmart, Food Lion and Winn Dixie. Also, some Valero “Shore Stops” and at least one Family Dollar on the Eastern Shore, and Piggly Wiggly’s, which are now in Norfolk! (That convenience chain previously was only further in the south).
    The locator may not be totally accurate. I see one lady say she was happy to “find” them at her local Food Lion in Fayetteville NC, but “they don’t actually carry them. It was a ‘push’ item.” (which I take it, means this: http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/P/push_strategy.html i.e. a kind of marketing strategy). She did go on to say that she found them at another grocery.

    Edit: made this little map to show curent distribution area:

    (Checked Tastykake’s locator, and they still have the jump on us, and a big one at that now, having spread to everywhere but the northwest and north central. Probably rode on the backs of [national] new companion Wonder Bread).

    Also, some new details added in the websites “history” page (added them to Wikipedia):

    •What founder Newman Drake actually started with in 1888 was to work at a bakery, the Vanderveer & Holmes Biscuit Company.
    •He began moving up in that company, and in 1893, while traveling on business in England, he was inspired by cakes from bakeries over there which gave him the idea to start his own line of cakes.
    •In 1896, his first bakery, (N.E. Drake Baking Co.) was on 135th St. in Harlem (not Brooklyn).*
    •According to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink, Nabisco actually owned the bakery in 1899, with Drake as manager.
    •Drake’s four sons started Drake Bros. Company in 1900, selling their father’s cakes.
    °(This according to the same encyclopedia. The site history says it was Newman and his own brother Charles who incorporated in 1902, at the same time as opening another bakery in Wallabout Market, in what would later become the Brooklyn Navy Yard).
    •In 1905, it expanded to Boston.
    •77 Clinton Ave. [see above comment] was only built in 1913, and closed in 1977.
    •The company was finally reincorporated as Drake Bakeries, Inc. in 1924-5.
    °At the same time, “The forward-thinking company used electric delivery vehicles.”
    •They were selling sponge cake, macaroons and pound cake until Devil Dogs were introduced in 1926. (one source says 1923).
    Borden actually bought the company way back in 1929 (likely anticipating the stock market crash, other sources say 1946), but did not publicly disclose it until 1968.
    Yankee Doodles were actually inherited from acquisition of Boston-based Yankee Cake Company in 1929
    •Further cake introduction years: Coffee cake (1930), Ring Dings (1958), Funny Bones (1961) Yodels (1962) and Fruit Doodles [i.e. pies] (1964).
    •Executive offices were moved from Brooklyn to the final location in Wayne, NJ in 1969 (also, baking operation, which at that time probably replaced the 1920’s Newark bakery. Brooklyn would follow the consolidation 8 years later).
    •Was never sure of what exactly they were sold to after the first Hostess merger broke up and before the Culinar name started appearing on them. I had heard something like “the Rock Company” (somehow related to “Rockefeller” as in the familiar “Center” in Midtown), but what it actually was, was Rock Capital Partners, which was funded by the Rockefeller family. The sale to Culinar was December, 1991.

    *A photo is shown, but no indication of the address. It occupied two lots between two five story old law tenements. (Or perhaps late “First Act” [1867]. Can’t tell whether they’re post-1879 “dumbbells” or not). Looking at Google now, everything east of Malcolm X (Lenox) is gone (Harlem Hospital and projects and other modern developments), and on the south side of the street west of there, is the Harlem Y. While the remaining old tenements between Powell and St. Nicholas are of that basic style, it doesn’t seem to have been any of those. On the west side, it’s City College and then larger early “New Law” tenements to the Hudson. These probably wouldn’t have replaced the still new bakery and surrounding tenements. I’m sure the bakery was between Lenox and the Harlem River, which was probably the more industrial area where the hospital was built).

  21. Finally got to try the first new product in years, cherry creme Yodels! One store had them in double packs. The boxes appeared a few weeks ago. (Limited edition for the holidays).

    They also have a “Yule Log Roll”, which is like a large (Little Debbie jelly and other “roll”-sized) Yodel.
    Also now, Little Debbie now has its own “Funny Bones”, the “P.B. Richies”. Wonder if they’re the same formula rebranded.

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