published Sunday, June 30th, 2013

McKee Foods in Collegedale, Tenn., readies return of Drake's cakes

McKee Foods in Collegedale
McKee Foods in Collegedale
Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • photo
    McKee Bakery has purchased the Drake's line of snacks sold mostly in the Northeast.

Twinkies aren't the only cakes getting ready for a comeback -- so are Drake's cakes, which include Devil Dogs, Funny Bones and Yodels.

After Hostess Brands Inc. went out of business last year, the company sold off its brands in chunks to a variety of buyers. Many of the most famous cakes -- such as Twinkies, CupCakes and Donettes -- were purchased by a pair of investment firms that say they plan to have them back on shelves by July 15.

Drake's cakes, meanwhile, were snapped up by longtime Hostess rival McKee Foods, which makes Little Debbie snacks. McKee said in an email Monday that Drake's cakes should be back by "late summer/early fall." The company says it will start with a selection of Drake's products and see whether to bring back more products after that.

It did not say which products it will roll out first or whether all Drake's cakes would eventually return to shelves.

Notably, McKee Foods has gone head-to-head with Hostess on a variety of products. Its "Cloud Cakes" for example, bear a striking resemblance to Twinkies. And now it owns Drake's Devil Dogs and Yodels, which look a lot like its Little Debbie Devil Cremes and Swiss Rolls, respectively. But McKee says it isn't necessarily phasing out products that seem similar to each other.

"Similar is just that -- similar, not the same," McKee spokesman Mike Gloekler said.

Gloekler said McKee Foods is using its own baking plants to make Drake's cakes but that no changes will be made to the recipes to streamline production. He said the company will make Drake's "exactly to the recipes we received in the acquisition."

Little Debbie cakes tend to be less expensive than Hostess cakes. But Gloekker declined to say detail the pricing plan for the relaunch of Drake's.

A representative for Flowers Foods, which bought Wonder and other major bread brands from the bankrupt Hostess, did not respond to a request for comment.

Flowers also make snack cakes such as Tastykake and Mrs. Freshley's.

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