Eagle-eyed Gentle Readers around here may have noticed two recent trends in our thinking: one is that we are vaguely obsessed with the Flyers, and the other is that we’re incredibly obsessed with Tastykakes. Now, we’ve lived in the outlying Philadelphia region for the better part of our lives, and up until this very day, our only exposure to Tastykakes was those shockingly vile pictures of them on billboards along I-95 on the way back from the airport and/or sports complex in Philly. But ever since finding out that the Flyers and Tastykakes go together like, well, some sort of iconic unholy combination, it has been our sworn mission to immerse ourselves in the Tastykake experience. If our beloved Tranny Brides actually officially score goals for cases of Tastykakes (to be donated to children’s charities), we simply must know what that case of deliciousness is really like. Seriously, Gentle Reader, this is what motivates Mike Richards when he’s breaking away shorthanded; don’t even try to tell us he’s not thinking, “Dude, you just gotta score here — there’s Tastykakes on the line.”
Boomer is the most shameless of the three of us, so she willingly volunteered to go to the nearest gas station kwik-e-mart to stock up on our Tasty vittles. We weren’t sure how much would be available, so imagine our delight when she sent us an email this afternoon titled simply “yum yum” with this as the entire body of the message:
Mission accomplished. We were ready to spend this evening watching the Tranny Brides on tivo delay while enjoying our very own custom-built case of Tastykakes.
Here was the haul, divvied up:
It should be noted that we undertook this taste test without the safety net of a spit cup; it was just us and the Tastykakes. If the Flyers give them out to sick orphans, how bad can they be?
It should also be noted that when you sit for a few minutes next to a groaning platter of pieces of Tastykake, the smell is nearly overwhelming. And the sliced-open Jelly Krimpet will glare balefully through your soul.
The more we thought about it, the more terrible an idea this seemed to be. Because seriously, if the Flyers give these things away to sick orphans, there’s no way they’re edible. They are the Flyers, after all. The only thing to do is just to dig in.
Our methodology is to just plow through, and then rate them on Boomer’s proposed High Disgust Factor scale, ranging from Beaker to Boulerice (Beaker being not at all disgusting, Boulerice being, well, Boulerice).
First up: The Pound Kake Junior. It is just a little brick of pound cake. There is actually nothing junior about it, as it could probably feed a family of four for a week. This is really a manly lunchbox dessert, even by our standards.
High Disgust Factor: Knuble. It’s actually pretty likable, in a workmanlike way. It tastes not unlike microwave popcorn butter, but in cake form. Or rather, kake form.
We wash this down with generous swallows of Diet Coke (is it actually Koke tonight?) and gird ourselves for more.
Second up: Creme Filled Koffee Kake Cupcakes. We’re confused by the spellings — why aren’t they “cupkakes”? Schnookie’s especially eager for this kake, because her fondest elementary school snack memory is that one time in first grade that her class got Drake’s Coffee Cakes. To this day, when offered a free snack, she irrationally hopes it will be something like that, but she has never once, in all those years been rewarded again. This cupkake is a little blob of yellow kake with what looks like tan mouse droppings on top and a blob of gleaming white creme in the middle.
High Disgust Factor: Gagne. Almost — almost — good. But, like Gagne, it has a fatal flaw. Gagne’s is that he’s a Marty killer, and the Koffee Kake’s is that its lingering (and lingering, and lingering) aftertaste is strongly of coconut. Or Kokonut. But the mouse poops are surprisingly crunchy and delicious, and the whole thing tastes genuinely of cinnamon. If this was a free snack at some event we were attending, we’d be psyched. Until we finished eating it, and then we’d spend the rest of the event wishing the world didn’t taste of coconut.
Third Up: As Pookie puts it, “Should we get this Lemon Pie out of the way?” It’s a hard brown crust around a blobby glob of dull yellow goo.
High Disgust Factor: Asham. We expected profoundly disgusting, and as it turns out, it’s actually not vomit-inducing. In other words, pleasantly surprising. The filling is fairly lemony, and the crust isn’t as stale-tasting as we thought it would be. It’s doughy and fake tasting, though — kinda like Asham.
Fourth Up: “Tasty Treat”. This is Tastykake’s contribution to the premade Rice Krispie treat canon. When cutting these things into pieces, this one smelled the worst when first opened by a knife. How do Rice Krispie treats turn out like that? How is that possible? We were about to find out.
High Disgust Factor: Carter. Dude. This is the dessert that’s all blond hair and white teeth. It tastes like a rice krispie treat that has yellow cake mix (not kake mix) powder in it. It makes us want to make our own rice krispie treats with yellow cake mix sprinkled in, just to see if we could replicate this flavor, but in a wholesome, homemade way. Heh. We actually went back for more of this one.
Fifth Up: Tastyklair. Pookie: “So far we haven’t had one that makes me want to gack, but looking at the Tastyklair, I don’t think I can put it in my mouth.”
High Disgust Factor: Hextall. Ron Hextall gave us hours and hours of laughing-at-him joy while also being someone we could genuinely loathe. Likewise, this was the item that most delighted us while studying up on Tastykakes, and is also something we can genuinely regret having eaten. Pookie: “This tastes like a ‘treat’ I would have been given in Russia.” She doesn’t mean that in a nice way. Once again, it’s the doughy, dry crust, this time filled with cake-mix flavored cream and a crumbly “chocolate” topping. It’s iconically bad.
Sixth Up: Chocolate Cupcake. Tastykake totally dropped the ball naming this. It’s a dry lump of chocolate cupcake with a thin, sad layer of chocolate frosting over the top. It doesn’t look encouraging.
High Disgust Factor: Briere. We’d rather pretend this never happened. It was strangely crumbly, yet had a gummy mouthfeel. Schnookie: “This is the opposite of all the others, in that it started out revolting, then had a lingering aftertaste of just cocoa.” Pause. “No, wait. Now it’s revolting again.” Pookie: “Maybe we should rate this as a Terry Murray, because for you it was literally a choking situation.” ZING!
Seventh Up: Creme Filled Chocolate Cupcake. It looks less malignant than the plain chocolate cupcake because it has a flat smear of “white” frosting on top, and a gleaming blob or white creme in the center.
High Disgust Factor: Lindros. It’s an enigma. It doesn’t taste as bad as its non creme-filled counterpart, in large part because its cupcake foulness is broken up by that glob of sugared, whipped crisco. We rate it a Lindros because it was puzzlingly difficult to figure out what was going on with it — we couldn’t figure out what we were tasting, how bad it was, what its intentions were, and it would have been greatly improved by Scott Stevens smushing it into oblivion.
Eighth Up: Fudge Nut Brownie. Schnookie balked here, after struggling mightily with the chocolate cupcake. This is a very flat slab of brownie substance topped with a thick sludge of “frosting” studded with pieces of walnuts.
High Disgust Factor: Cote. Like Cote, this sucks at what it does, but it’s also kind of benign. That said, if Cote was a metaphor for this brownie, and picking Cote for a roster was a metaphor for choosing an after-dinner treat, then playing with an empty spot in the lineup would be our metaphor for opting to go dessertless. To spell it out. Pookie: “This tastes like brownie jerky.”
Based on our “observing the billboards along I-95” research, we think Krimpets are the signature Tastykake. So we saved them for last.
Ninth Up: Jelly Filled Krimpet. This is perhaps the scariest item on the plate whose name doesn’t rhyme with “Blastyklair”. It’s a sponge cake with a squirt of red goo in the center.
High Disgust Factor: Forsberg. This is a surprisingly ephemeral dessertstuff, yet it packs an enormous wallop of grotesqueness. We each took eensy-weensy bites, and yet we still found ourselves overwhelmed by the powerful wretchedness that is the flavor of the jelly filling. It tastes like a fruit roll-up that goes on for miles. Like the Flyers-Era Forsberg, it’s not very substantial, but it’s also pervasively vile. Pookie: “I felt like it wasn’t actually playing in a game, but it was still calling a press conference during the action to tell me stuff it’s already gone over time and again before.”
Tenth Up: Butterscotch Krimpet. It’s sponge cake with a limp square of tawny “frosting” drooping over the top of it. It looks almost as bad in person as it does in its I-95 glamor shots, and we hoped it would be a Tastykake experience for the ages.
High Disgust Factor: Cechmanek. The Butterscotch Krimpet is a very puzzling experience. Pookie: “I couldn’t tell you what this tasted like. It’s like… a sugary… citrus… sawdust…” Schnookie: “It’s like Roman Cechmanek. It’s beamed into my life from a mysterious planet, it’s doing god-only-knows-what here, and then it’s going to beam back away.” Pookie: “But it’s going to leave me with great happiness like Cechmanek did, because my Tastykake tasting experience is now over.”
So there you go, Gentle Reader. Perhaps our Tastykake obsession is safely behind us. If there’s one lesson we’re taking away from this exercise, it’s that you really, really don’t want to be a sick orphan in Philadelphia.