Monday, November 19, 2012
The Sad Demise of Devil Dogs
This column originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on Monday, November 19, 2012.
AN INSIDE LOOK
By Bill Gouveia
When I first heard that Hostess was going out of business, I was not bothered at all.
Sure, I have eaten a few Hostess chocolate cupcakes in my day. And yes, those little powdered donuts are nearly impossible to stop devouring once you start. But I have never been a fan of Twinkies, the Hostess delicacy that has become the very symbol of nutritionally disastrous yet tasty fare. The passing of this snack food giant initially seemed to have virtually no effect on my gluttonous lifestyle.
Then I got a text message from my daughter-in-law. She wrote to express her sympathy that one of my favorite guilty pleasures – Devil Dogs – would be disappearing from store shelves. I chuckled at her obvious error, and wrote back that my Devil Dogs were safe. They are made by Drake Cakes and not Hostess, I explained. I had nothing to fear.
Then she texted back that Drakes was owned by Hostess. A chill ran up and down my spine as her words crossed the screen of my mobile device. Surely she was mistaken. I began to text back to tell her she was wrong.
Then there was a beep, and my eyes went to the Wikipedia link she had texted me explaining the relationship between Hostess and Drakes. I was stunned. Yet there it was, undeniable and yet still unthinkable. And the horrible reality of the situation began to descend upon me like a gloomy storm cloud.
I am now facing the possibility of a future without Devil Dogs.
You may scoff at my plight, and consider it trivial. But Devil Dogs and I have been best of friends for some five decades now. The elongated chocolate cake halves and creamy filling have been an integral part of my life. It is like losing an old friend – even though that friend may not have had the best of influences on you.
When I trudged off to first grade at the LG Nourse School in Norton back in the early 60’s, there was a Devil Dog in my lunchbox making the trek with me. It was a reassuring familiarity, packed away by my Mom with love to try and make sure I felt safe and secure in my new surroundings. I ate my sandwich, drank my milk, and then savored my Devil Dog. It gave me the strength and confidence to work my way through those grueling alphabet drills and kept me running and playing at recess.
Devil Dogs were often my reward for achieving something or simply getting through the day. They have been my emotional crutch, one of my sources of support and comfort. While they may well be largely responsible for my rotund shape and general nutritional failure, they deserved a better fate. It should not have ended for them like this.
Ring Dings are not my concern. Yodels are something that should stay in the Swiss Alps. Funny Bones you can laugh about if you choose. But Devil Dogs are a genuine piece of Americana. They are up there with apple pie and ice cream in the Pantheon of snack foods and desserts. While there have been many imitators who have aspired to copy and capture the flavor and character of Devil Dogs, none have succeeded.
I remain hopeful Devil Dogs will continue somehow. Perhaps the brand and the super-secret recipe will be sold to some brilliant and enterprising businessperson. If Hostess and Drakes had just concentrated on this one special product, they would no doubt still be in business today. Devil Dogs practically sell themselves.
In the short-term I will be okay, thanks again to my daughter-in-law. Knowing my plight, she went out and secured a stash of this valuable commodity to tide me over through the initial crisis. While she does not approve of me gorging, she does understand.
I have not been so depressed and worried since Coke did that stupid “New Coke” thing a few decades ago. Public outcry saved that iconic product. Perhaps it can happen again.
If the government can save GM, it should be able to save Devil Dogs. Wait until my congressman gets this letter. But my grandchildren should not have to grow up in a world without Devil Dogs.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.