(Photo: Next time, don’t forget the Ring Dings, Yodels, Yankee Doodles, Sunny Doodles, Apple Pies, and Coffee Cake Juniors.)
When Sole Man Donn called last Friday to tell me he was on a spur-of-the-moment weekend trip in New York, he asked if I wanted him to bring anything back from my long-ago hometown. “No, thanks,” I said and put my iPhone back in my pocket.
Ten seconds later I found myself frantically pulling it out again. Before Donn could manage a greeting, I yelled into the phone, “Devil Dogs!” Several times.
Let’s just get this out of the way now. To a New York City native, Hostess snack cakes suck. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying Hostess products are bad. I’m saying they’re less appetizing than smelly goo on the end of a Q-Tip or toothpaste poop that just won’t wipe off.
Real Gothamites grow up with Drake’s Cakes: Ring Dings (ahem, the original Ding Dongs); Yodels; Yankee and Sunny Doodle cupcakes (no frosting needed, thank you very much); two-in-a-pouch Apple Pies; little teeny Coffee Cake Juniors. All labeled with that timeless blue and orange image of a male duck wearing a neckerchief and bearing a spoon.
And then there are Devil Dogs. Like hot dogs with devil’s food cake buns and creme filling in place of the frank, these have been my lifelong chocolatey muse. Their dry and airy cake-iness surrounding a more manly creme filling than any Hostess Twinkie could ever hope to boast, frozen in the freezer and accompanied by a glass of milk got me through grade school, half-a-dozen teenage boyfriends, college, my first eight years on my own in Brooklyn, and September 11th, for good measure.
Even though back east Drake’s shares bakeries and delivery drivers with Hostess (don’t get me started), my lucky ducky snack cakes absolutely cannot be found in the Midwest. When I realized that fact after moving to Chicago in 2003, I almost cried. When my old NYC friend, Babs, surprised me with a box of Devil Dogs while I was staying at her apartment in Rego Park, Queens during my misguided 2007 attempt to move back to Gotham, I did well up, right there in the Keyfood.
Before hanging up with Donn again, I begged in every way possible for him to bring me back my long-lost favorite snack cakes. I expected him to arrive with a couple of two-dog pouches, not much more. Yesterday, he walked into my Marina City high-rise home with three family-size boxes.
When I realized Donn had brought me a frenzy-inducing 24 Devil Dogs (minus the two he and his roommate sampled), I looked him straight in the eye and said, “If I didn’t have a boyfriend right now, I’d fuck you.”
I wasn’t surprised when Donn responded, “You wouldn’t be the first today,” but I digress.
As I carefully arranged the glorious boxes of Devil Dogs on my dining table, Donn started to get the message. “Oh my God, you’re gonna do a photo shoot, aren’t you?” he remarked, slightly horrified. “You really are obsessed, huh.”
In lieu of responding, I opened a box, pulled out an individually wrapped Devil Dog, pulled off its wrapper, took an almost life-saving bite, giddily teetered into the nearest wall, and slowly slid down.
The process continued long after Donn left. After my fifth Devil Dog in eight hours, I knew the food porn needed to stop. I thought maybe peeking at the ingredients list and Nutrition Facts on the back of the too-good-to-be-true, eight-in-a-box boxes would be enough to give me pause.
SIlly me, for attempting to hold a transitory thing like health up against my immovable yen for Drake’s snack products. 170 calories each? Seven grams of fat, three of them saturated? 20 grams of sugar? Yum!
High fructose corn syrup? (And yes, unlike those insipid sugar-industry commercials, I do know what they say it does to your liver.) Hydrogenated cottonseed oil? Sodium aluminum phosphate? I am so there! Servings per container: 8? I’ve never met those other seven people.
I have 16 Devil Dogs left and a Chicago-native boyfriend who has yet to try them. I’ve talked them up to him greatly over the past few days. I’ll see my guy this weekend.
We’ll see if the Devil Dogs make it that long.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.