It hurts to write this post because it feels like I'm peeling away a very dear, but vestigial part of my body. Like taking out my appendix, or lopping off an earlobe, admitting that Zebra Cakes are an abject failure, the wheezing obese diabetic token of snack cakes, physically pains me. Dr. D used to take me on weekends in her yellow VW bug and typically, our first order of business was to pick up some treats for the visit, forbidden favorites that followed an excursion to an animal shelter or Toys R Us. It was one of my first real feelings of equal power, how wonderful it felt to just hold up a pack of Zebra Cakes and get a nod of approval. Because of that the treat has stuck with me, holding a significance far beyond snack cakes. The zany zebra heralded one of my first brushes with responsibility- the joy and ensuing pain of eating too many Zebra Cakes.
Over a decade and a half later, I decided to revisit them out of pure nostalgic longing. I wasn't disappointed to eat them again as they did rekindle the same delight I felt so many years back, still best paired with a 4-piece kid's meal from Burger King and an episode of Angry Beavers, but I was disappointed to discover that a pack of these is worse, in almost every single respect, than eating a McDouble. This is right behind colored sunscreen and puppy feet on the ever-expanding list of "things that are adorable but should not, under any circumstances, be placed in a human's mouth." With a flimsy, crumbly structure and a persistent filminess, these things are basically the edible equivalent of the FBI Most Wanted List. They're nasty hexagonal calorie bombs glued together with sweetened Floam. The texture seizes up and improves when subjected to a bout in the freezer, but primarily remains waxy on the outside and grainy with sugar on the inside. The zebra stripes don't impart any chocolatey flavor to the cake at all.
While I'd wished the little cakes had tasted better, the reminiscence of kicking back with these and classic 90's episodes of Nickelodeon is parallel to none, even the post-consumption guilt of realizing how much saturated fat is in these.
Labels: 1, dessert, nostalgia week, snack