Hold on to your cheesesteaks Philadelphians, I'm about to say something shocking.... I don't like Tastykake.
Tastykake is a hugely popular snack company in the NJ-PA region. The company's offerings are pretty similar to Little Debbie and Hostess, so we're talking grocery-store-quality cookies, snack cakes, pies, and doughnuts, but they're more unique items are their baked pies, "Koffee Kakes" and "Kandy Kakes." If you haven't noticed by now, the Kompany really likes Kreative spelling.
You can find their items at every 7-Eleven, Wawa, corner store and grocery shop in the area. I grew up with this company and it's offerings but I never really understood it's devoted fanbase. When people move away from the area one of the things they always miss (other than cheesesteaks and Wawas) are Tastykake's products. I just don't get the appeal. Then again, before you all start pelting me with soft pretzels and chasing me out of town, I don't like most grocery store cookies and snack cakes. It wasn't until very recently that I was converted by the ever awesome banana Twinkie and decided to give more of these products a chance. So, here we are with another Tastykake product, will this be the one to finally make me see the light? (Or is it more like drinking the Kool-Aid...let's hope not.)
Back in 2013 I tried Tastykake's normal pumpkin baked pie and I was not impressed. It's a seasonal staple, and they re-release it every year, but this is the first time I've seen them do a cheesecake version of it.
The packaging is very simple, it's a cardboard box with a see-through window, and inside there is a tiny rectangular pie in a foil pie-tin. The packaging functions really well, and the tray makes sure that the pie stays together and doesn't get damaged during transit, but the visuals are a little lack-luster. In the world of snack cake brands, Tastykake's design is kind of in the same anachronistic nostalgia bubble as Little Debbie. It looks kind of old, but new at the same time, which makes it look a bit awkward. I'm sure it's a sight for sore eyes for some of you transplants from the east-coast, but since I see it all the time I feel rather indifferent about the design. (I'm junkfood-jaded.)
I opened up the box and got a better look at the pie inside. The crust looks darker than the one from the original pumpkin pie version. The box doesn't say anything specific about the crust, and I don't feel like filtering through the fine print ingredients to confirm this, but off the top of my head I'm thinking that they're going for a graham cracker-kind of crust, since this is a cheesecake pie and all that makes sense. The crust smells...like grocery store pie crust with a hint of cinnamon, but the spice aroma is likely coming from the filling and not the crust on it's own.
Thankfully this pie stayed intact when I removed it from it's pie-pan-prison, and I took my first bite.
I expected the filling to be really dense and creamy, like cheesecake, but it was oddly translucent and amber-colored. That doesn't look like any cheesecake I've ever had...
So how does it taste? The crust has a deeper, more complex, flavor than the normal baked pie version, but that's not saying much. It's very dry, like Pop-Tart-crusts kind of dry, but after years of eating Tastykake pie's I knew what to expect. On the other hand, the filling is not at all what I expected, but oddly enough it's not that bad. It may not look like cheesecake, or feel like it, or taste like it, but it was certainly tastier than the normal pumpkin pie version. This filling is light, with a custard consistency, and a hint of cream-cheese-y tang.
Now as far as pumpkin flavoring is concerned, this was more pecan-pie than pumpkin, which is really weird since this is supposed to be a cheesecake...but it works. This is a grocery store pecan pie mixed with pumpkin pie filling, and it really wasn't a bad combination! The real issue, other than the dry crust, is that this was poorly labeled and marketed. If they sold this as a mini pumpkin-pecan pie I think the flavor profile would match it's name a lot better, it'd be a more unique fall offering, and the masses might be more excited to try it. It's artificial as all get-out, but as long as you're not expecting a high-class dessert it really isn't all that bad and I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.
On a Pumpkin Scale of 1-5 (5 being the most pumpkin-y) I’d give this a 3. I enjoyed it more than normal Tastykake pumpkin pies, but it wasn't very cheesecake-y. It definitely needs a new name. Wouldn't buy it again, but it's different enough from the normal pumpkin pie version to be worth trying and I feel like this is honestly better than it's original pie-form.
© Maria Smith http://poison-and-antidote.net
Like Sometimes Foodie's Facebook page to keep up with all my foodie adventures!