Monday, October 31, 2011

Things just ain't what they used to be

While in the grocery store the other day, I was delighted to find, unexpectedly, an end-aisle display of Tastykakes.

What are Tastykakes, you might ask? (See here) They are assorted confections baked in Philadelphia, and have been since 1914. Nobody in North Carolina knows what they are, but if you were born and raised in southeastern Pennsylvania, Tastykakes can be found clinging to your DNA. They go hand-in-hand with cheesesteaks and hoagies.

Many times when I go to Pennsylvania, I bring back a selection of cakes and pies for my southern friends, who generally enjoy them, I think.

So when I found them on display at a local Food Lion recently, I got excited and promptly bought a 12-pack case.

I bought them, no doubt, as a conditioned visual response. Tastykake=buy me. I say this because after decades of devouring Tastykakes, (heck, they were probably part of my womb service more than 60 years ago), I just cannot resist purchasing some whenever I see a display.

Too bad. Because, if truth be told, they are not the same as I remember as a child. Back in the 1950s, the cupcakes were actually full-sized cupcakes. Now, no doubt because of economic downsizing, they are mere shadows of themselves. They have, essentially, become bite-sized.

Plus, they no longer seem to have the rich, distinctive flavor I remember as a child. That's probably the most disappointing thing. The pies, I must say, still taste great. But the cupcakes leave something to be desired. I no longer feel like I'm enjoying a sinful treat. Now, it's just more wasted (or waisted) calories.

I have considered the possibility that maybe it's me who's changed over the years, and not the Tastykakes, but I don't think so.

Consider this: other pleasures also seem more disappointing to me. Hershey's chocolate candies seem to have less chocolate and more wax in them; whatever happened to Hydrox cookies? Gosh, talk about sinful, but now you can't even find them; even Famous Amos cookies taste generic to me, almost as if they are knockoffs of Chips Ahoy; breakfast cereals seem more bland and generic (I know there's less sugar in most, but I suspect there's more preservatives in them, too).

I'm guessing that mergers, consolidations and economics have turned once-distinctive favorites into clones of each other. Indeed, the Tasty Baking Company was recently saved from bankruptcy when the Georgia-based Flowers Foods purchased  Tasty for $34 million in cash.

Back in the day, we purchased Tastykakes from the two-cent redemption of soda bottles we found on the playground. Sigh.

I know. I sound like an old codger with nothing better to do except complain. Maybe I'll get over it.

Just let me finish this Butterscotch Krimpet first.

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