McKee kick-started the relaunch with the roll-out of the top four selling varieties of Drake's snack cakes on Sept. 23, a move Mike Gloekler, director of communications at McKee Foods, told Milling & Baking News was made because the company knew it could get those products "out quickly."
The Drake's snack cakes have been off the market for 10 months, and McKee
has spent the past few months getting a handle on how the products may effectively fit into McKee's snack cakes portfolio, which also includes Little Debbie
The transition was not always easy, Mr. Gloekler
"These were whole new recipes to us," he
personal opinion on how the Little Debbie
and Drake's cakes compare, Mr. Gloekler
thinks Little Debbie products
are "a little sweeter" while the creme filling in the Drake's cakes is "a little creamier.
The chocolate enrobing is "quite different" between the two, he
product that isn't part of the initial roll-out is Funny Bones, which are rectangular chocolate cakes filled with peanut butter flavored crème and covered with milk chocolate frosting.
said Funny Bones are a challenge because of the inclusion of peanut butter.
"It's not cost effective to run alongside our current equipment," he
"That product almost needs its own dedicated line."
McKee currently offers Peanut Butter Crunch Bars and Nutty Bars (which include peanut butter), but Mr. Gloekler said the Little Debbie products are wafers, which require different equipment then the cake-based Funny Bones.
is making the Drake's cakes in Collegedale, Tenn., and Stuarts Draft, Va.
While Funny Bones may not make it back to market anytime soon, McKee
does have plans to expand the Drake's brand, specifically into the breakfast market, Mr. Gloekler
No launch date has been given, but new products appearing on the company's web site and slated for future introduction include honey buns, blueberry muffins, banana nut muffins, chocolate chip mini muffins, blueberry mini muffins, cherry cheese Danish pastries and cheese Danish pastries.
"The breakfast market is a very active market right now," Mr. Gloekler
The company also plans to introduce Zoinks!, which are crème-filled sponge cakes similar to Twinkies.
One thing is for sure, with Little Debbie's
national brand recognition and Drake's strong presence in the northeast, Mr. Gloekler
sees no reason why the acquisition won't pay dividends for McKee
in the long run.
"It's really a chance to increase our footprint," he