As I was driving around doing errands this week, I heard a terrible news report on the radio. It seems that Tastykake, my beloved maker of Butterscotch Krimpets, Kandy Kakes, cupcakes and Juniors, is on the brink of financial ruin. Somehow the Tasty Baking Co., the crown jewel of Philadelphia, whose sweet and delicious cakes comfort me through PMS and my never-ending self-confidence crises, might be tottering on extinction. How did this company, which grosses $280 million annually, find itself in such a money crunch?
Well, my job here is not to fix blame on the management practices of Tastykake. Well, that’s not exactly true. I would like an explanation. Did the recession hit the cellophane-wrapped dessert industry this hard? Is this a diabolical plot between Keebler, Little Debbie and Hostess Twinkie fans who want to see their baked goods at the top of the Philly market? And what if Tastykake does go out of business? What would this mean to the Philadelphia area? Have we not suffered enough?
This year, The Phillies lost the World Series, and I am still not sure if the Giants were that good or the umpires were that bad. Okay, No one from San Francisco yell at me for that comment. I love San Francisco. The citizens there are polite, liberal and accepting of everyone — so much like the people of Philadelphia. Go ahead; you can spit out whatever you’re eating. I can hear it now:
“What the hell are you talking about? Philly people are rude, bossy and basically angry at life.”
Okay, that’s true. We do have attitude issues, but, still, we have suffered. After we lost the World Series, we lost Jayson Werth to the Nationals – the team that has no fans. The only people who watch their games are the Philly fans who can’t get tickets at home, so they drive down to Washington and watch the Phillies play there. Yes, their stadium is known to us as Citizens Bank Park South. Okay, the Phillies did get Cliff Lee back, so I guess that might be a wash in the whole baseball suffering department. However, the Flyers didn’t win the Stanley Cup, and the Eagles failed to make it once again to the Super Bowl. See, we have had a tough year, and now there is a chance that Tastykake might fold.
There are so many questions running through my head? First off, what will happen to Kirbee Krimpet, the Tastykake mascot who shows up at parades and special events with the Phillie Phanatic? Will he be unemployed? Who hires a laid-off mascot? How is the job market for him? What about the Tastykake recipes? Will they die with the company or will the Tastykake bakers post them on Facebook or the Internet somewhere,so we, the people, can bake them in our homes?
Personally, I might not be up to the task of baking any of the Tastykake products to perfection. There is a good chance that I won’t be able to create the special, Tastykake frosting for which the company is so famous for either. What would the world do without Tastykake? Is Tastykake aware of how their little cakes brighten the lives of those who live in the Philadelphia region? I, myself, mail Tastykakes to Philadelphia natives who have had to move to uncivilized cities like Los Angeles and Dallas where the healing powers of the Tastykake treats are not yet known. How do I tell these people that their tastiest tie to home might be severed for all eternity?
Well, it seems that my dramatic pleas for Tastykake were not needed. A last minute combination of private and public debt financing has raised $6.5 million for the struggling bakery company, and Tastykake now has until June 30th to get all its cakes in a row and either merge with another company or be sold to another company.
While this seems like good news now, I will still savor each bite of my Butterscotch Krimpets. What if a bigger bakery comes along and wants to do away with the Tastykake name, or their products or worse — Kirbee? Yes, it’s true we will still have our cheesesteaks, the liberty Bell, Rocky, the disaster that is the Schuylkill Expressway, the Pennsylvania Ballet and of course – the freaking Mummers! But the skies over Philadelphia and southern New Jersey would be quite a bit grayer if Tastykake and Kirbee Krimpet were no longer around.