As the fate of America’s favorite yellow, cream-filled snack cake hangs in the balance, a Canadian company is preparing to pounce. Saputo Inc. is the Montreal-based cheese and bakery products manufacturer that happens to hold the rights to Twinkies and other Hostess products up in the Great White North. But Canadians don’t have the love affair with those seemingly indestructible packaged goodies as their allies south of the border do. Instead, Canadians – especially French Canadians – have long saved their sweet tooth for the snack cakes made by Vachon, the bakery arm of Saputo.
According to a recent Canadian Press article, it seems that Hostess’ current situation could be the opportunity Vachon has been waiting for. A company spokesperson confirmed that it does wish to push its way into the American market, hoping to lure Ding Dong and Ho Ho–loving Yanks, and would focus its efforts on Vermont and its surrounding states. Hey, it worked for Tim Horton’s. As the resident French Canadian, let me take this opportunity to introduce you to the tasty treats that may be coming your way…
The queen of Vachon’s empire is this round, layered, chocolate-covered sponge cake that was invented some 80 years ago and named, not for the pinup girl, but a puffy life preserver of the same name. The cake’s spelling was reportedly changed when Mae West died, to avoid a lawsuit from her estate. It used to be filled with custard but is now filled with a vanilla cream similar to that of a Twinkie. The taste could be likened to a Twinkie dipped in chocolate. But better.
The king of the Vachon operation is undoubtedly this other seemingly misspelled brand. It’s pronounced just like the famous boxer’s name, but alas was not named for him. In fact, according to Vachon’s website, the cakes were named after the two sons of the company’s founder, Joseph and Louis. Like a red velvet version of the May West, it’s a chocolate dipped dark sponge cake sandwich with vanilla cream filling. You might compare it to a Ding Dong – except for the fact that the Jos. Louis came first.
Chocolate Swiss Rolls
Did you spend your childhood wishing your mom would slip a Ho Ho into your lunch? Sorry to burst your bubble, but those kiddie favorites are actually ripoffs of Swiss Rolls, which are made by companies like Little Debbie and, yes, the much older Vachon. The company’s “pastry chefs” suggest mashing them for a delicious and practical tiramisu base.
Tastier than Twinkies? Um, yes. Classier than Twinkies? Well, duh. These vanilla sponge cakes are the closest thing Vachon makes to the infamous yellow snack cake, but look like gently folded crepes stuffed with a light vanilla cream instead of a bright Big Bird–colored tube.
The closest thing to a Hostess Sno Ball is a Jelly Log, a rolled vanilla sponge cake, filled with cream and jelly and sprinkled in shredded coconut. Doesn’t sound like much until you find out that there’s also a maple version. (Of course there is.)
And more: Vachon also makes a line of flaky pastries, rather appropriately called Flakies. They come in different fruit jam flavors and are light and, well, flaky. There are also millefeuilles, tarts, brownies, half-moon pies (we Canadians are no gluttons), carrot cakes and a few other funny-named cakes like Piques, Pops and Miamis. So, don’t be afraid, America. Should Canada’s snack cake giant decide to broach your borders, you can be sure your blood sugar levels will be well taken care of. And I know of a great little coffee place you can stop by to wash all this Canadian cake down.
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