Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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EatBeat: Philadelphians Rally Round Tastykake

January 13th, 2011 · 3 Comments

Cream-filled chocolate Tastykake cupcakes

If you’ve got a Facebook friend from Philadelphia, you’ve likely already been tapped to join the cause: Save Tastykake!

The Tasty Baking Co., founded in the City of Brotherly Love in 1914, is in trouble, it seems. Sales are falling – January dieting won’t help this – and they’re looking for a buyer.

Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets

Such loyalty exists with Tastykake lovers, however, that they likely could sell bits of the company to their fans and stay afloat. Fierce fights break out over which is best: Butterscotch Krimpets, a wavy cake slice topped with a flat layer of butterscotch-ish icing, or Chocolate Cream-filled Cupcakes, or Kreamies – long ovals of cream-filled cake layers.

Their single-serve-size pies, including the favorite “Tasty Klair”- a pie version of an eclair with creamy center and chocolate icing – top “most missed foods from home” lists by former Philly residents.

Keep your Twinkies and Ho-Hos, and even your Krispy Kremes. Philly folks want their Tastykakes.

Joe Bonikowski

“I’d crawl a mile on broken glass for Tastykakes,” said Joe Bonikowski, a Palm Beach Gardens basketball coach who grew up in Philadelphia. He’s got fond memories of eating them as a schoolkid.

“I had four brothers, and money was tight. Once a week in our lunches, we’d get Tastykakes. It was like Christmas in your lunchbox. We always felt loved – it was like your mom baking something homemade, but wrapped up and ready to go.

“From a kid’s standpoint it was indescribable – a Tastykake and a glass of milk – you couldn’t beat it.”

Bonikowski buys Tastykakes in nearby groceries, but it wasn’t always the case. “We moved down here in ’78, and before Tastykakes were down here, my grandparents and friends would send us boxes. It was always a welcome trip to the mailbox.”

His favorites? “You know, it’s like a tie between Lemon Pie and Peanut Butter KandyKakes.”

Terri Turner

Others are shocked at the news of the company’s trouble. “No way Tastykake is going under!” said Terri Turner, a native Philadelphian, and now a Florida transplant. “How can that be? I’ve been eating Tastykakes since I was a baby! I bring home bags full on the plane – packed with my hoodies. You can’t get the two-packs down here, they only sell boxes and only a few kinds in Publix and other stores. Up there, you can get two-packs, three-packs and get all the different kinds.

“I love their fruit pies – cherry, apple – all of them And their Klair pie – it’s phenomenal. They just can’t go under!”

Bonikowski agrees. “These four things – TastyKakes, soft pretzels, cheesesteaks and water ice — are synonymous with Philly. I know there’s a movement to try to save them – I hope that happens. It would be a huge void in the regional cuisine if Tastykakes were to fall from that list.”

Tags: Today in the World of Food

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Terri N Turner // Jan 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    It’s a sad day. I’ll be looking for Tastykakes down here so I can stock up on them….making room in my freezer. On a better note, Philly fans of the soft pretzel, stop by Heavenly Pretzels in Davie, 441, west side just south of Griffin Rd., awesome Philly pretzels!!!!!

  • 2 Ken // Jan 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Don’t let it happen. The world cannot be without Butterscotch Krimpets. My whole childhood (in New Jersey) would be rendered meaningless.

  • 3 Joe Lindsay // Jul 8, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I agree with both of you concerning TastyKakes. Luckily, there are several restaurants in the Denver area that carry them. By the way, Joe, are you the Joe Bonikowski that I went to High School with at Father Judge?

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