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10 Fun Facts About Tastykakes

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ESPHS

Sure, Hostess may have copyrighted the tagline “The Original,” but the Tasty Baking Company has got five years on the company that introduced the Twinkie. Today, Philadelphia’s preeminent purveyor of pre-packaged sweet things is celebrating its 100th birthday. Here are 10 things you might not know about Tastykakes.

1. THE COMPANY IS BASED IN PHILADELPHIA FOR LEGAL REASONS.

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Tasty Baking Co. co-founders Philip J. Baur and Herbert C. Morris came from Pittsburgh and Cleveland, respectively. The two connected over a shared love of high-quality baked goods, with Baur coming from a family of bakers and Morris being an egg salesman. At the time they founded the company, Baur’s family was in the process of selling their popular bakery, with a stipulation that no family member could open up a bakery within 100 miles of Pittsburgh. So the pair headed to the City of Brotherly Love.

2. MORRIS’ WIFE CAME UP WITH THE NAME.

After taste-testing a few of their recipes, Morris’ wife commented on how “tasty” they were. And with that, the company’s name was born.

3. HIGH-QUALITY INGREDIENTS ARE NO JOKE.

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From the beginning, Tasty Baking Co. sought to set itself apart by using only the finest ingredients in their products, including farm-fresh eggs, Grade A creamery butter, real milk, cocoa, hand-sifted flour and sugar, and all-natural flavorings. That tradition continues today; Tastykake sources its ingredients from around the world, including sugar cane and cocoa from Africa’s Ivory Coast, vanilla from Madagascar, Indonesian cinnamon, nutmeg from the East and West Indies, and banana puree from Ecuador.

4. AUTOMATED WRAPPING DIDN’T HAPPEN UNTIL 1956.

For more than four decades, Tastykakes were individually wrapped by hand. In 1956, the company managed to improve productivity with a few state-of-the-art additions to its plant. The introduction of spiral metal chutes, powered conveyor belts, and auxiliary equipment cut the baking cycle down from 12 hours to 45 minutes. And the installation of a Battle Creek wrapping machine meant that the final packaging could be automated.

5. TASTYKAKE LOVES SPORTS.

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Though their products are now available throughout much of the country, Tastykakes are still a Philadelphia icon. And they’ve proven this time and time again by sponsoring several of the area’s professional sports teams. Hall of Fame baseball announcer Harry Kalas would often talk about the box of Tastykakes that had arrived at his booth between innings. At a memorial service for fans following his passing in 2009, attendees were treated to complimentary Tastykakes. Philadelphia Flyers players are often treated to a box of Tastykakes for scoring a goal, making “He shoots, he scores for a case of Tastykake!” a frequent announcement during games. The company also owns the naming rights to local sports radio station 610 WIP’s studio, a.k.a. Tastykake Studios.

6. BETTY WHITE LOVES TASTYKAKES.

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Betty White is one of several Tastykake spokespeople to appear in a commercial for the company over the years. Dick Clark, Joe E. Brown, Shari Lewis (and her puppets) are a few others.

7. CHOCOLATE-COVERED PRETZELS HAPPENED BECAUSE OF A DECLINING TEEN POPULATION.

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In 1981, the company’s research showed that the number of teens living in the Mid-Atlantic states—their target demographic and distribution area—was on the decline. So the company decided to shift gears and launch a few new products with adults in mind. The more grown-up menu included chocolate-covered pretzels, Danish pastries, muffins, and single-sized snacks.

8. TWO THOUSAND TASTYKAKES ARE THROWN FROM THE TOP OF AN OLD PRISON EVERY YEAR.

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Each year on Bastille Day, a local cabaret group known as The Bearded Ladies gather around the tower of the prison-turned-landmark Eastern State Penitentiary and throw 2000 packs of snack cakes down at the adoring crowd (led by Marie Antoinette, as she tells the world to “Let them eat Tastykake!”)

9. BROOKLYN LOVES TASTYKAKES, TOO.

In the song “Brooklyn Zoo,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard states: “As I create, rhymes good as a Tastykake.”

10. PEANUT BUTTER KANDY KAKES ARE THE BEST!

Mike's Candy Wrappers 

That’s not just a personal opinion; Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes are the company’s best-selling product. They bake 500,000 of them per day. Compare that to 439,000 Butterscotch Krimpets or 217,000 Chocolate Cupcakes. Wow. (And yum!)

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These Sparrows Have Been Singing the Same Songs for 1500 Years
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iStock

Swamp sparrows are creatures of habit—so much so that they’ve been chirping out the same few tunes for more than 1500 years, Science magazine reports.

These findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, resulted from an analysis of the songs of 615 adult male swamp sparrows found in six different areas of the northeastern U.S. Researchers learned that young swamp sparrows pick up these songs from the adults around them and are able to mimic the notes with astounding accuracy.

Here’s what one of their songs sounds like:

“We were able to show that swamp sparrows very rarely make mistakes when they learn their songs, and they don't just learn songs at random; they pick up commoner songs rather than rarer songs,” Robert Lachlan, a biologist at London’s Queen Mary University and the study’s lead author, tells National Geographic.

Put differently, the birds don’t mimic every song their elders crank out. Instead, they memorize the ones they hear most often, and scientists say this form of “conformist bias” was previously thought to be a uniquely human behavior.

Using acoustic analysis software, researchers broke down each individual note of the sparrows’ songs—160 different syllables in total—and discovered that only 2 percent of sparrows deviated from the norm. They then used a statistical method to determine how the songs would have evolved over time. With recordings from 2009 and the 1970s, they were able to estimate that the oldest swamp sparrow songs date back 1537 years on average.

The swamp sparrow’s dedication to accuracy sets the species apart from other songbirds, according to researchers. “Among songbirds, it is clear that some species of birds learn precisely, such as swamp sparrows, while others rarely learn all parts of a demonstrator’s song precisely,” they write.

According to the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, swamp sparrows are similar to other sparrows, like the Lincoln’s sparrow, song sparrow, and chipping sparrow. They’re frequently found in marshes throughout the Northeast and Midwest, as well as much of Canada. They’re known for their piercing call notes and may respond to birders who make loud squeaking sounds in their habitat.

[h/t Science magazine]

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18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
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iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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