The Takeout's fantasy food draft: Best snack cake

Illustration for article titled The Takeout's fantasy food draft: Best snack cake
Photo: Scott Greenberg (Getty Images), Graphic: Natalie Peeples

Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.


Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout writers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.

The winner of the previous Takeout Draft: Class Cocktails, as voted by readers: Kate Bernot!

Illustration for article titled The Takeout's fantasy food draft: Best snack cake

This week, the topic is snack cakes, which makes any prepackaged sugary pastry-type creation fair game. Competing in the Thunderdome this week are members of the Takeout staff: Kate Bernot, Aimee Levitt, and Allison Robicelli. The randomizer has selected a draft order:

Allison Robicelli

Aimee Levitt

Kate Bernot

Let’s do this.

Allison Robicelli: Okay! My first pick is Entenmann’s Chocolate Glazed Donuts.

Kate Bernot: Oh god, those are so good. My brother is obsessed with them. (Hi Chris!)


Aimee Levitt: They make me happy.

AR: I am assuming I am allowed to enter all sizes of this donut, yes? Because I like putting the little ones on my fingers like rings and taking little bites of them. Five fingers, five donuts, all good times.


AL: That is truly the best way to eat them.

AR: There is never a bad time of day to eat them.

AL: I choose the Hostess Ho Ho because it’s so much fun to dismantle, and that makes it last longer.

First you remove the chocolate shell. Then you unroll it. Then you lick out all the cream. And then you have cake.


I may be a bit compulsive.

AR: They’re also great frozen.

AL: True.

AR: And if you eat them before bed, like I do, you can stir your frozen Ho Ho into a mug of warm milk.


AL: What????? That is amazing!

KB: I’m in awe of this. I have so much to learn about Ho Hos.

AR: I’m on an entirely different plane of snacking. This is why you hired me.


KB: OK, for my first round pick: Tastykakes Peanut Butter Kandy Kake

Woe to the non-East Coast-born who don’t know of Tastykake’s joys

AL: That would be me.

KB: I’ll try to smuggle you some so you can decide whether I’m right.

AL: Excellent. I’ve been hearing about them all my sad Midwestern life.

KB: The texture is so pillowy, so melty. They’re so far from a real baked good they can’t even use the real spelling of cake in good conscience. And that’s why they’re delicious.


AR: I will eat any and all things peanut butter at any time of day.

AL: They look a bit like Girl Scout Tagalongs? Or are they distinguished by kakiness?


KB: They have that PB flavor, but the kake is really its own textural experience.

AR: You could use them to make sandwiches, too. Like maybe throw a melted marshmallow in there, or a boneless skinless chicken breast.


KB: Mix it up!

Alright, for my second-round pick: Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies


KB: Don’t be fooled by the word oatmeal, there is nothing nutritious or wholesome happening in this confection.


Just soft, soft vanilla and “spice.”

AR: Those things washed down with blackberry Clearly Canadians got me through junior high.


KB: Is soft a flavor? Little Debbie argues it might be.

AL: If Little Debbie says so, then it must be true.

AR: If you buy oatmeal cream pies at a bodega with no air conditioning they practically melt into goo.


It gets all stuck to your fingers and you can lick it off on the bus ride home.

AL: The snack that lasts!

AR: I’m now thinking of what sort of bus germs got onto my oat goo crusted 11 year old fingers. This is a bad moment for me.

Illustration for article titled The Takeout's fantasy food draft: Best snack cake
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

AL: Let’s move on then. My next pick is the Twinkie.

A sentimental favorite, although it hasn’t been the same since they changed the formula.


The Stella Parks version is amazing, though, and tastes just like my memory of the Twinkie.

KB: Deep-fried or nah?

AL: Yah

AR: Kinda surprised it went second round. I wasn’t allowed to have them when I was a kid, then when I finally tried them as a teen I was underwhelmed.


Then I deep fried and everything changed. It’s a whole new animal when it’s deep fried.

AL: It’s true. Especially encrusted with corn flakes.

AR: It’s not just a cake covered in batter. It’s a fundamentally changed pastry.


It ceases to be a Twinkie.

AL: Did you all know the Twinkie used to be stuffed with banana creme?


AR: Wasn’t that the original Twinkie?

AL: Yes

AR: I can see that working.

AL: It’s ever-evolving.

KB: I’m skeptical.

AL: Banana to vanilla to deep-fried.

AR: Dip that shit in chocolate? It’s a fluffy Bluth Banana

AR: My next pick: Drakes Apple Fruit Pies

I was thinking of going with the larger Hostess fruit pies, but Drakes’ small size means they have a better crust to filling ratio.


KB: Crucial, with any snack pie.

AR: Canned apple pie filling is pretty gross and will always taste like unnamable preservatives.


With Drakes, you get a finer dice on the apples, and just enough so there’s good balance with the crust and glaze. You actually taste apples over chemicals, which is key.

This, too, is excellent when deep fried.

KB: I’ve never had one of these. Must remedy that.

AL: Same. I don’t think they have them in the Midwest, either.

AR: I feel so sad for you guys right now.

AL: Don’t cry for me, Brooklyn.

Illustration for article titled The Takeout's fantasy food draft: Best snack cake
Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

AR: Next I’m doing with Ring Dings or Ding Dongs, depending on where you’re located. Another OUTSTANDING treat to keep in the freezer.

AL: I can totally see that.

AR: It has a better cream filling to cake ratio than Yodels or Ho Hos. And with the disk shape, it’s easier to load up the top with Redi-Whip.


The further we get into this draft, the more I’m thinking this might be a cry for help on my part.

KB: You’re in good company, Allison. This is a safe space.

AR: It’s the Society for Putting Things on top of Other Things.

AL: There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If we weren’t meant to stack them, why are they flat?


AR: Ding Dongs, whipped cream, peanuts, mouth.

AL: OK, my next pick is the Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tart.

AR: I like the cut of your jib, Levitt!

AL: Ha! I will forever associate it with History of Ancient Egypt.

Pharoahs, pyramids, and Pop Tarts.

KB: Oh that’s such a good one. Toasted or raw?

AL: They taste better toasted, but I wouldn’t throw a raw one away.

AR: Pop Tarts can be easily become sandwiches, which we all know is the best food group.


KB: I think the lesson of this draft is any pastry is a sandwich if you just believe.

For my next pick, I’m going with Sara Lee Pound Cake.

AL: OOooooooh!

KB: If that’s how I’m going to take years off my life, so be it.

AL: It’s worth it!

KB: So buttery! So smooth! So heavy!

AR: That’s a great base item I’ll cite in recipes, especially during the summer. If it’s too hot to bake, just use that.


KB: Good idea

AL: The other lesson of this draft is that Allison can doctor anything. And make it better.


AR: Throw a few slices on the grill with some fruit? It’s so goddamn good.

AL: See? I feel my food horizons expanding.

AR: This pound cake goes to 11!

KB: OK, hear me out on this next one: Entenmann’s cheese danish

AR: Oh go to hell, Bernot. You’re stealing all my picks!

KB: The draft is a cruel mistress.

I love cheese danishes, and this one comes with gobs of icing and “cheese” and by god it’s in the shape of a log.


AL: And it’s delicious.

AR: My only complaint is that there’s not enough cheese. You just get a ribbon down the center, and then it’s all dough.


AL: My next one is also Entenmann’s: the Lemon Crunch Cake.

AR: Oh damn.

AL: I feel like lemon cakes are severely underrated. I had one in my possession last spring and ate way too much of it all at once. But I regret nothing.


AR: Lemon might actually be my favorite flavor of all time. It makes everything better. Water, salads, pasta, seafood, and crunch cakes.

KB: Crunch is also a nice contrast to so much softness

AR: To keep this an all Entenmann’s round, I’m bringing my wildcard pick into the fourth found: Guava Puffs


AL: Huh

KB: Whoa, outta left field!

AL: Is this another of your mysterious East Coast-exclusive foods?

AR: I think it may be mostly in Latino markets. Guava and cream cheese is a big flavor combination in places like Cuba and Puerto Rico.


One of my favorite snacks is cream cheese on a saltine with a little cube of guava paste.

AL: I need to try that.

AR: The Entemann’s puff gives you the fluffy puff pastry of a turnover, with creamy cheese danishesque filling and a sharp snap of tangy guava. I’m so angry I am not currently eating one as we are discussing this.


I could very easily make this an all-Entemanns draft. I’m scrambling now because you took two of my favorite picks, Bernot!

Ill go with Little Debbie Nutty Buddies. It sort of combines my favorite candy, Kit Kats, with peanut butter, which is one of my favorite things


KB: Unfortunate name, those snacks.

AR: Unfortunate, or greatest?

AL: The pressure! I think I’ll have to go with the Pepperidge Farm Apple Turnovers.


KB: oh god I love an apple turnover, even in prepackaged form

AL: Exactly. And the pastry on these is not bad.

AR: I did not even think about bringing Pepperidge Farm into these proceedings.

KB: I too have a wild card for my final pick: Rice Krispie Treats. Not as good as the homemade version, but they still hit the spot.


AL: They’re good in a pinch.

KB: And with that, I think we all need to break and hit a vending machine.

Illustration for article titled The Takeout's fantasy food draft: Best snack cake

Who won this week’s draft? Please vote now!


Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

Associate editor of The Takeout. Chicagoan. Owned by dog.

Allison Robicelli is a writer, recipe czar, former professional chef, author of four (quite good) books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Tweet me for recipe help: @Robicellis.


My my, you left some primo undrafted free agents on the board this time round, and that means I don’t have to venture too far into the what-fresh-hell-is-this-Fox territory that these comments of mine usually devolve into by round five.

On the other hand, we’re talking about me here, so...

1. Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls

Better than the Ding Dong for my money, especially if you can turn invisable for one dayyyy and pilfer them from Bubs’ concession stand (“Come back chocolates! I didn’t mean what I said!”)

Just watch out for Strong Mad butt when he fails to realize “the floating Swiss cake roll is talking to you!”

Yeah, this may have been equal parts an excuse to make a Homestar Runner reference as an endorsement of one of my favorite snacks.

Also, my mom, whose name is Debbie, insisted to my brother and me when we were little that they named the snack company after her back in 1959. Oh, the lies we tell our children...

2. Hostess Cup Cakes


(OK, I promise that’s the last Homestar joke.)

But seriously, I could compile an entire list of chocolate cake and creme filling desserts and call it a day since they are my top go-to in this sphere, but since Allison mentioned the Drake’s apple fruit pie and Aimee went with the Pepperidge Farm apple turnover, I’m going to point out that nowhere in the rules does it say you have to buy these at a convenience store (and it does come in a box so “prepackaged” checks out and...

3. McDonald’s Apple Pie

Are they as good as they used to be back in some forgotten time when everything at McDonald’s was way better than it is now with the beef tallow fries and the (insert McFood item that you’re nostalgic about)?

Probably not. But they are a freakin’ icon for a very good reason and for that I am adding Mickey D’s version to my list and suddenly have the urge to wave an American flag and play baseball.

4. Munchkins/Timbits/whatever donut holes.

They are made of cake. They come in a box. They are delicious beyond measure, especially if you get the assortment because sometimes you don’t have to eat 25 chocolate ones to be happy, you can have a plain one and a jelly one once in awhile and by the gods, this is one of those foods that, much like pizza, is a “single serving” no matter what size container it comes in.

Also, Google Chrome’s spell check can go get stuffed for insisting that only “doughnut” is the correct spelling. That word is pronounced “duff-nut” and is objectively the wrong way to spell donut seriously what the bloody stinking hell is wrong with people.

5. 7-Eleven Yellow Cupcakes

You know you’re on to something when you can find something that is dirt cheap and still manages to satisfy, and of all the prepackaged baked goods 7-Eleven offers in its “7-Select” line of store branded items, well...OK, the chocolate cupcakes are my favorite but I’ve already walked that path with Hostess’ version in the second round.

There are certain foods that just taste like a color. Gravy tastes like brown. Wendy’s chili tastes like red. Aldebaran whisky tastes like green.

And a 7-Eleven yellow cupcake (seemingly modeled off Hostess’ Orange Cupcake) tastes like...well, it tastes like yellow. Vaguely fruity yet vanilla-ish, which I swear is more delicious than I just made that sound.

So nice to be back on my own comfort turf in these food drafts. (this also reminds me I haven’t eaten since killing off that second quad chicken sandwich in three days at Jack in the Box yesterday...)