Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?!

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Eric B
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2005/11/12 10:26:13 (permalink)

Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?!

Hi All!
I am a long time Drakes fan from NYC. I grew up on both Drakes and Hostess, of course. I never really payed attention to which cakes were which brand. But I loved the big Swiss Rolls back then (which still make periodical appearances today, and were split into two smaller rolls for several years in the 80's), and the Strawberry or Banana Shortcakes (their fake Twinkies filled with flavored cream, and there was chocolate also). It was 21 years ago, when I went to college in Norfolk, Va; I soon began noticing something missing in the stores. You could find Twinkies but not Devil Dogs, or Yankee and Sunny Doodles, or the other cakes I mentioned above. Next to the red Hostess rack, was a blue rack of cakes (evoking what you would see in NY corner stores), but these cakes were TastyKakes. (Then, you had Flowers, which in NY was distributed under various brand names, but used primarily Beebo in their own operations back then; and Little Debbie, which I had never heard of, but would appear in NY the following year).
I then realized that it was the Drake's brand that was missing, and searched the whole area for them, but found only the same stuff.
After doing some research, even contacting the company when I came home, I found that they only operated in 13 states, bsically from Maine to the DC area, and then jumped to Florida. The reason they were in Fla. was because of all the New Yorkers; especially Jews, who went down there to retire. (Drake's was just about the only kosher cake back then (next to Little Debbie and most of TastyKake, while Hostess and the others were still using lard, and even the beef fat they still use is against the kosher law).

So it was nice to know that there was at least one far away part of the south that Drakes were in. I found that when you cross the Hudson, Drakes are not as prevalent as in NYC and New England. In the DC area, they were really only in supermarkets. There was a brief expansion to California, and they were carried by one distributor in one supermarket chain (Von's), but when this person died, that folded. Then, the operations south of Delaware folded. I had been told by a college roomate one year ahead of me, that Drakes had been in the Hampton Roads area right before I got down there (based out of Newport News), but that of course folded.
I finally got to see them in Florida in 1991 and 1992. They still seemed to be in supermarkets only, though I did see them in a Key West convenience store, along with a couple of TastyKakes, which otherwise didn't seem to go past North Carolina.

Now cut to this past week, when I make a trip down to Orlando. This is in the age of the great IBC merger of Hostess/Drake's/Dolly Madison/Merita/Mickey/Wonder. I see most of these other products, but not Drakes. I find the big Merita plant and thrift store not too far from downtown, and none there. Just like being back in Virginia. The sales lady tells me that they had just stopped receiving them this week. They would have been delivered Tues. They just did not sell enough. (Even with the low marked down thrift store prices!) This was in 90% of Florida. She said that in her opinion, they were too dry, and I just saw someone else mention this on this board. That is one thing that made them so unique to me. The Hostess and Dolly Madison chocolate always seemed too rich amd moist. The TastyKake and chocolate tasted a bit different, but it too was too rich. The Drakes' chocolate was just right, and was nicer after a few days. For a while last year, they were apparently using Hostess style chocolate on the Yankee Doodles and Devil Dogs, and it just was not as good. Then, they changed it back, thankfully.

It seems every time they try to expand, it fails. It seems everyone is so used to the richer, moister chocolate, that Drakes just cannot grow on them, and every time they try to expand, it doesn't work out. They were supposedly in other parts of the south now, like Georgia, but I don't know how they are doing there. But if they seem to be failing in Florida, where they have been for a long time, then it doesn't seem to look good elsewhere, and it seems they are destined to be primarily a NYC/New England novelty. I always thought they were good enough to be national just like Hostess. Growing up here, they were just as much as a household name, and it was variety. But it seems elswehere, it is mostly monotony, though Little Debbie is different, and has spread like wildfire. Their Devil Twins, which they have rounded off to look just like Devil Dogs are even drier! (though I don't seem to see them elsewhere).
I always thought they should be given a better chance, by among other things, being sold in convenience stores more. With the merger, perhaps replace Dolly Madison nationwide, or package them under the Dolly Madisson label, since Dolly's primary cake, the Zingers, appears under the Hostess brand, and most of Dolly's other products parallel's Hostess.
I guess they must have never done really well in Florida either, but under their own operations, they continued to ship frozen cakes down there to whoever ordered them, but now under IBC, who I was told gets them from Rocky Mount, NC and does not ship them frozen, this is no longer profitable?

Any thoughts? Any more knowledge on the subject? Anything Drake's fans can do?
#1

13 Replies Related Threads

    Eric B
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2005/11/12 21:39:41 (permalink)
    Oh, I'm back home now, so I don't need to order them. Just don't want to see them pulling out of areas, rather than expanding.
    But thanks for those sites, anyway!
    #2
    Milane
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2005/12/15 14:18:50 (permalink)
    Eric you seem to really hae the history down on snack foods. I am looking to find out more on Mickeys brand. I have been in love with the banana dream cake for ages. The package had a little redheaded boy on them. Is this the same mickeys that you refer to? Anyway he cake was like a spice cake and on top was all this banana filling. Do you know where to find these or vcan you give me more history on the Corporation?

    Thanks,
    M.
    #3
    Eric B
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2005/12/15 21:51:27 (permalink)
    Hi!

    Mickey was the cake brand for American Bakeries Corp. Merita was the bread label in the south, and Taystee was the bread label in parts of the north.

    The Mickey label did have a little boy on it. Around 1989, Interstate Brands (Dolly Madison) bought out ABC, and while the Mickey and Merita labels continued, several Mickey products also appeared as Dolly Madison, such as the Creme Boats (fake Twinkies, though originally flat on top), and the Banana Dream. Now, the Banana Dream I an referring to is just yellow cake, not spice cake, and basically a round flat piece that is "flipped" into a taco shape and filled with banana creme.

    The Taystee label was spun off into a regional franchise (like Sunbeam, Roman Meal, etc). The Taystee bread bakery in NYC was bought out by Stroehmann from Pennsylvania and eventually closed, with the bread now shipped in from somewhere else. They did continue to carry the Mickey cakes for a while, but then ceased.

    So I'm not sure where or if you can still find Mickey brand anywhere, but the Banana Dream is still sold under the Dolly Madison label. I saw them in Florida last month, and a couple of years ago, I saw them in northern Jersey. In NY, Dolly Madison is carried by a local distributor (and rival has always carried IBC's other label, Blue Ribbon), and you can find the Zingers, basically, but never the Banana Dream.

    So basically, you have to be where you can find a lot of Dolly Madison products sold. I know The Mid Atlantic and parts of the south, the midwest and I guess much of the rest of the country to the west where Dolly Madison was the other leading brand besides Hostess. Perhaps you could call the nearest IBC operation.
    #4
    Milane
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2005/12/15 21:59:00 (permalink)
    Eric,

    I hope you are still there. Maye I got it confused with the banana cream boats not dream. The cake was flat like a shortcake cup? Is that the cream boats?
    M
    #5
    Eric B
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2005/12/15 22:15:08 (permalink)
    No, no. Not banana cream boat. I mentioned two different things.

    The creme boats originally were yellow finger cakes with flat tops, and slightly wider than Twinkies. The creme filling was just plain vanilla. I always saw them 3 in a pack, and there also was a raspberry striped one that came two in a pack. These I used to see in Virginia in the mid 80's. When IBC bought it all out, then I began seeing the same "Creme Boats" logo on Dolly Madison labels (I was in Calif. by the time), but the cakes now looked (were shaped) exacly like Twinkies (Hostess was not bought out yet, they just copied the shape).

    Then, the Banana Dream (the taco shaped flip) I also eventually saw with Dolly Madison labels.
    #6
    Milane
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2005/12/15 22:32:16 (permalink)
    Thank You Eric. I understand now! How do you know so much about these brands? I appreciate your help or I would have continued looking for Mickeys brand.

    M
    #7
    Eric B
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2005/12/16 18:55:37 (permalink)
    I basically learned all this stuff 20 years ago when I was going around looking for Drakes' everywhere.
    I found that breads and cakes are so interesting among groceries, because many of the brands are regional, yet if you grow up in one area, you might think they are everywhere, yet in another city, you see stuff completely different. This happens with other products as well, but it is more likely with breads and cakes because they are so much more perishable and thus not usually shipped very far.
    #8
    dasl_4
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2006/03/02 19:30:15 (permalink)
    Drake's are still in Florida .. they have them at Publix Wal-Mart and others
    #9
    Eric B
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2006/03/03 18:53:51 (permalink)
    Those stores must be having them shipped. From what I saw last Nov., they were completely dropped by the IBC operation in Orlando (where I see you're from).
    #10
    dasl_4
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2006/07/18 02:50:09 (permalink)
    I find the Drakes Coffee Cakes to be very dry and bad flavored
    #11
    Eric B
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2006/07/19 13:14:36 (permalink)
    Why are they calling those Hostess things "Drake's Coffee Cakes"? I have never seen them with cinnamon swirls in them. Drake's coffee cake was basically the same as the coffee cakes Hostess was already selling (usually 3 in a pack), except that the Drake's single pack had a big cake, and the family packs had the littles ones the same size as Hostess'.
    This is one area where I agree that Hostess is better, and Drake's is too dry. But I'll have to taste this new Streusel thing. (right now; I am calling hoping I can find the Strawberry Creme Twinkies somewhere. That would be like Drake's old "Strawberry Shortcakes" all over again!
    #12
    efuery
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2006/07/19 13:37:05 (permalink)
    Drakes cakes rule - I am a devil dog and funny bone junkie!
    #13
    Twinwillow
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    RE: Drake's Cakes booted from Florida?! 2006/07/23 22:40:39 (permalink)
    I moved from NYC to Dallas about 43 years ago. I still miss Drakes cakes.
    Especially, Devil Dogs, Yankee Doodles and coffee cake.
    Any of the above with a glass of cold milk............. Ahhhhhhh, heaven!
    #14
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