When one thinks of individually packaged snack cakes, the first word that probably comes to mind is “Hostess.” But for those who grew up on the East Coast of the United States, there has always been an equally-loved underdog known as Drake’s Cakes. For those east coasters who have relocated to places where their beloved Devil Dogs and Yodels are no longer available, Hostess snacks are considered a substandard substitute for the treats they hold dear to their heart.
In existence for well over a hundred years, a humble Brooklyn baker named Newman E. Drake first found success selling his pound cake in 1888, which led to the opening of the Drake Bakeries, who were eventually bought by Borden Foods in the late 60s.
Their most familiar concoctions are Devil Dogs, a hot-dog-bun shaped devil’s food cake, with a whipped-cream-like filling; Yankee Doodles, a devil’s food, cream-filled cupcake; Yodels, a chocolate-dipped log of devils food cake and creamy goodness, and the Ring Ding, which was shamelessly copied by Hostess for their Big Wheel product. At one point in history, Hostess and Drake happened to be owned by the same parent company, Purina, and as a result, Hostess was permitted to change the name of their snack to Ding Dongs. Eventually, the companies split again and Hostess was forced to change the name of their chocolate covered snack yet again to King Dons.
Drake’s is still going strong on the East Coast, although it must compete, not only with Hostess, but another local favorite, known as Tastycakes. A brisk mail-order business has also emerged online for those who no longer reside in their marketing area but yearn for these unique treats and have a craving that a mere Twinkie could never satiate.
If you grew up where Drake’s Cakes are sold, and harbor fond memories of finding one of these delicacies in the bottom of your lunchbox, we hope you’ll share your recollections with us in our comments section. Meanwhile, we tip our hats to a snack food underdog, still going strong for well over a century.