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Drake's is a baking company in Wayne, New Jerseymarker, owned by the Interstate Bakeries Corporation, which makes snack cakes such as Ring Dings, Yodels, Devil Dogs, Yankee Doodles, Sunny Doodles, Funny Bones, and coffee cake. Their mascot is a smiling drake wearing a chef's hat and neckerchief holding a spoon.

At their peak, Drake's bakery operations spread to thirteen states. In New York Citymarker and New Englandmarker, Drake's popularity came to rival national brand Hostess. In New Jerseymarker and eastern Pennsylvaniamarker, Drake's cakes compete head-to-head with that area's popular Tastykakemarker brand.

Largely unknown outside of these areas until the 1990s, the Drake's product line received national exposure on the sitcom Seinfeld, most notably the episode The Suicide in 1992. Later in 1990s television talk show host Rosie O'Donnell professed a fondness for them, sharing the cakes with her audience members on The Rosie O'Donnell Show.

Origin and History

The company's founder, Nick Drakes, baked his first pound cake in Brooklyn, New York, in 1888. He sold it by the slice. Popularity increased, and soon a whole line of cakes was produced.

By the late 1960s, the resulting Drake Bakeries was owned by the huge Borden food company, along with Cracker Jacks and Wise potato chips. In 1987, Borden sold the company to Ralston Purina, which owned ITT Continental Baking Company, makers of rival Hostess Cakes and Wonder Bread. This created a virtual monopoly in some areas, soon overturned. While the union lasted, Hostess was able to use the name Ding Dong for its Ring Ding clone in formerly restricted areas; when dissolved, instead of restoring the product's original Big Wheels moniker, Hostess compromised with a new "King Dons" trademark for the affected areas. During this period, Drake's celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1988, by producing the world's largest Ring Ding cake.

For a time in the 80's, Drake's produced a line of imitation Twinkies, including versions filled with strawberry, banana, or chocolate creme. They were originally called Shortcakes; later, when only the plain vanilla Twinkie-clone was being produced, renamed Zoinks!, before the line was discontinued for good.

Drake's Bakeries changed hands several more times in the 1990s, eventually being acquired by the Canadian company Culinar. Among the highlights of this period was the introduction of a pastry called "Pick 'M Ups", which became the only Drake's brand product to contain animal fats. A frosted chocolate cupcake that looked like Hostess' signature CupCake with a white icing swirl also appeared under the Drake's label, though Drake's never produced such an item on their own. In 1994 Culinar also initiated a drastic restructuring of the company-owned routes, which enabled Drakes to become profitable by 1997.

In 1997 Drake's almost went out of service because of money related issues.

In 1998 Drake's was sold by Culinar, Inc., to Interstate Bakeries Corporation, which had previously acquired ITT/CBC and its Hostess and Wonder brands. The resultant market concentration was not overturned, other companies such as Little Debbie having sufficiently expanded market share since the previous monopoly arbitration to avoid it. In the New York City area Drake's and Hostess operations were combined, sharing the same trucks, delivery routes, and store racks. Some Hostess cakes distributed in the Northeast, such as Twinkies and Ding Dongs, are produced at the Drake's bakery and bear a kosher certification symbol in those areas.

In 2008, Drake's boxes began to carry a hybrid "Drakes by Hostess" logo with a message on the box explaining that the companies share ownership and a commitment to quality, possibly a first step toward an ultimate phase-out of the Drake's brand name.

Expansion

Throughout its history, Drake's Cakes have attempted to expand to other areas, either through third-party distribution deals, or shipping frozen cakes to distant areas, as was being done for Florida.

This remote presence reflected the preferences of many Drake's consumers from the north who had relocated to that retirement haven. Reinforcing this brand loyalty was the distinction that Drake's were at one time if not the only then one of the very few kosher snack cakes on the market, eschewing lard (forbidden under kosher laws outright) and tallow (prohibited in conjunction with dairy products commonly used in baking).

By 1989, Drake's could be found as far away as Southern California, through a deal with a local distributor for the Von's supermarket chain. But the distributor soon failed, and the arrangement ceased. Not long afterwords, distribution in the established Marylandmarker and Washington, D.C.marker, areas folded. In the Fall of 2005 IBC operations in Orlando, Floridamarker discontinued carrying the products.

Popular Products

Ring Dings
Chocolate frosted hockey puck shaped chocolate cakes with vanilla creme filling. Another version is filled with custard and labeled Boston Creme Pies. Originally sold one per package (4" Diameter, .5" high) and also in a yellow cake / milk chocolate frosted variation.
Yodels
Chocolate frosted creme filled Swiss roll. Drake's also from time to time offers a non-frosted version, simply called Swiss Roll. These are usually larger and sold as one in a single wrapping or four in a family pack, in the past sold as two smaller cakes in a single wrapping. Similar to Hostess HoHos.
Creme Cups
Chocolate frosted chocolate cupcakes with creme filling. Discontinued c. 1980.
Devil Dogs
An un-frosted devil's food cake sandwich with vanilla creme with round edged cake wafers resembling a hot dog.
Yankee Doodles
Chocolate cupcakes baked and sold in paper baking cups. Unlike most other snack cupcakes on the market, there is no icing, and the hole through which the creme filling was inserted is clearly visible in the risen center. The cake is not as dense as Devil Dogs but similar in appearance and taste.
Sunny Doodles
Yellow cake version of Yankee Doodles
Funny Bones
Similar to Yodels, though squarish and filled with peanut butter flavored creme and covered with milk chocolate frosting.
Fruit Pies
Offered in apple and cherry, these pies are unique among their niche in having two half-sized square shaped pies in a pack instead of a single rectangular pie, and in not containing lard.
Coffee Cake Junior
A single serving-sized round crumb cake. Family packs contain smaller ones.
Pick 'Em Ups: A flakey pastry filled with flavored jelly (raspberry or strawberry) and cream, topped with sugar. *Drake's has since discontinued this product.


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