The Endless Road Trip — Philadelphia’s Top 10 Eats 10. Tastykake Tasty Test
Any Philadelphian will tell you that an integral component of their local food culture is the Tastykake. Upon first glance, a non-native such as myself might think, “What’s so different about these packaged snack cakes compared to Hostess or Little Debbies?” Well, watch your mouth. Tastykakes are a beloved Philadelphia institution and locals do not take kindly to outsiders looking down on them.
Wondering what the deal was, I decided to bring a grab bag of Tastykakes back to Seattle and have a handful of native Northwesterners sample and give their opinions on these little cakes with the cult following.
Tastykake Says: Our signature sponge cake, which is both moist and fluffy, is either accented with our legendary butterscotch icing or infused with a variety of delicious jellies.
ES Says: This one was most heavily favored by a friend who has had mild Tastykake experience in the past. She says: “My ex was from Philly. I always asked him what was so great about Wawa, if it was just like another 711 or a Subway, and he said it’s like both but better. He would bring me Tastykakes all the time. I think more than mourning the loss of our relationship, I mourn the loss of my Tastykake connection.”
Why does she most heavily favor the Krimpets? “The flavors are the most combined and congealed together.” Tasty description.
Peanut Butter Kandy Kake
Tastykake Says: Tastykake’s milk chocolate coated treats are beloved for their vanilla sponge cake lined with peanut butter or their chocolate sponge cake lined with vanilla cream.
ES Says: The friend who selected the Kandy Kakes as her favorite had pretty solid reasoning: “This one is the best one, but mostly just because it has peanut butter in it.” I have to agree that this was my favorite out of the bunch, too.
Tastykake Says: This product often reminds of a perfect piece of birthday cake! A full piece of cake to satisfy any Tastykake fan – Juniors are finished with chocolate icing, coconut or Koffee Kake crumbs.
ES Says: Everyone could agree that the Coconut Junior didn’t skimp on the real coconut flavor. “This one just has the most flavor,” said my coworker, who selected this as her top choice. Can’t argue with that.
Soft Cookie Bar
Tastykake Says: Fresh baked and available in Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin and Iced Fudge, Tastykake Cookie Bars offer a satisfying snack for anyone seeking out a scrumptious yet non-traditional cookie.
ES Says: Sorry, Cookie Bar, you have the shameful dishonor of being NOBODY’S favorite. Comments from the samplers: “dry,” “no flavor,” “not even soft,” “clearly the least tasty Tastykake.” I’m sorry! Someone has to come in last.
So, really, WHAT is so amazing about Tastykakes? I think what it comes down to, and most would agree, that it’s not the snacks themselves but what they represent. They hold a special sort of nostalgia, as many Philly-area natives I spoke with told me how much they loved Tastykakes all throughout their formative years. They’re a local treat embodying the singular Philly pride that I came to love while I was visiting. Part of the charm of Philadelphia is that entire city is built on a foundation of celebrating its roots, and that includes everything from the Liberty Bell to Tastykakes.