Tastykake began baking on Feb. 25, 1914, making cakes and pies out of a small bakery in Germantown.
But about 150 years before that, the Queen of France, Marie Antoinette, anticipated the spongy, crème-filled snacks. “If the people have no bread, I say let them eat Tastykake!” she declared.
Actually, she never said that. Her supposed disregard for the plight of French peasants was entered into the historical record by writers with a grudge. However, every year, Antoinette re-enactor Terry McNally (a restaurateur by trade) belts out “Madame Deficit’s” Philly pride during the annual Bastille Day celebration in the Fairmount neighborhood, as packaged snack cakes rain down from the wall of Eastern State Penitentiary.
Marie Antoinette is not the only one to lose her head over Tastykakes. Fans of the snack cakes have been known to go toe-to-toe over disagreements about the best kind of cake, recipe changes, and the merits of new products.
When Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. James Cawley was growing up in Levittown, he had to defend his preference for Buttercream Cupcakes.
“Everybody has a favorite. I’m not terribly partial to butterscotch,” said Cawley, standing near a glaring 7-foot Krimpet mascot in the parking lot of Tastykake’s South Philadelphia facility Tuesday. “But I still enjoy Butterscrotch Krimpets. I can’t figure it out.”
Disagreements over Tastykakes are part of the territory.
“I have an older brother, and we had disagreements about whether it was the Butterscotch Krimpet or the Peanut Butter Tandy Kake,” said Tastykake president Paul Ridder, who grew up near Lancaster. “He was older — he won most of the time — but I got the last word on this one.”
To mark the company’s 100th birthday, Tastykake has introduced, for a limited time, the Birthday Kake, a yellow-cake cupcake with multi-colored jimmies baked into it.
“We’ll keep it around for a while,” said Ridder. “Usually our limited-edition products are for four to six weeks. We’ll probably keep this one around for quite a bit longer. We think the 100-year milestone is a quite an achievement, and we want to celebrate for a while.”
On its birthday, Tastykake donated 100 deliveries of cakes to area first-responders and food pantries..
Tastykake Baking Company is no longer a locally owned company. Three years ago it was sold to the Georgia-based Flower Foods. The company uses its South Philadelphia baking facility to make the Krimpets, Juniors, pies, Kandy Kakes, and, for now, Birthday Kakes.