Popular Tastykake products, ranked worst to first

If you grew up on the East Coast, chances are you've eaten a Tastykake product or two. While the brand was founded in Pennsylvania and once had fairly limited distribution, it's now available all along the East Coast and in much of the southern United States, including Texas. Betty White once sold Tastykakes on television, and Philadelphians consider it to be a local treasure.

While the company's bestselling item, the Peanut Butter Kandy Kake, gets a lot of attention (and for a good reason — the company bakes around 500,000 per day!), the brand makes not only its signature Kandy Kakes and Krimpets but also mini pies, cupcakes, donuts, pastries, and a host of other delicious, pre-packaged baked goods. Ranking these iconic snack foods is hard because none of them are strictly speaking bad. There's not a single Tastykake product we wouldn't happily eat, but some of them are better than others. Here are 16 popular items, ranked worst to first. 

16. Jelly Krimpets

You might be wondering whether we made a mistake, because who gets Jelly Krimpets when Butterscotch Krimpets exist? People do it! In fact, four types of Krimpets exist: Jelly, Black & White, Cream-Filled, and the iconic Butterscotch. None of these options are horrible, but the Jelly Krimpets, in particular, leave us scratching our heads, wondering why the powers that be at Tastykake decided to make this strange mashup of Krimpet and jelly doughnut in the first place.

The base is the brand's standard light, airy sponge cake, but there is no frosting (the best part of a Krimpet), and the jelly doesn't go all the way through. Thereforre, you end up with weird bites of either plain sponge cake or sponge cake with way too much jelly. The lack of frosting is probably the biggest offense, though. Not only do Krimpets just not taste as good without frosting, but they're significantly less visually appealing.

15. Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Tastykake has a lot of iconic items in its lineup, but although the company makes two different Cookie Bars — chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin — as well as two flavors of fruit and yogurt bars that are basically Nutrigrain dupes, no one goes to the store hunting for a Tastykake cookie bar. That being said, there's no reason to turn one down, either.

Out of the four bar varieties, the chocolate chip cookie is the best of the bunch, but it still lands near the bottom of our list. They fall apart very easily, are decidedly under-baked, and taste primarily like brown sugar and chocolate chips. The chocolate chip cookie bar lacks the tender crumb of other Tastykake products and has an aftertaste of ambiguous artificial flavoring that sets this product apart from the rest of the line — but not in a good way. The vast majority of the brand's other packaged snacks are better than the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, but if you for some reason must have a Tastykake bar, this is the one to get. 

14. Pecan Swirls

As per the name of the brand, Tastykake is really, really good at making cakes and cake-based items. Pastries, however, are by and large not in the company's wheelhouse, as is evidenced by the Pecan Swirls. The Pecan Swirl is somewhere in between a pecan cinnamon bun and a cruffin, but it's also neither of those things. It isn't flaky or crisp or tender, like a pastry should be. Instead, it's soft, dense, and ever-so-slightly slimy. Also, there's no frosting, which you might have realized by now is not a great sign when it comes to Tastykake products.

Pecan Swirls do have a pleasant, nutty flavor that's a touch more on the salty/savory side than a lot of the brand's other offerings, and their tiny size means you can eat a whole bunch of them and only feel marginally sick afterward. However, the brown sugar flavor is more prominent than the pecan. Often, the only way you'd know there were pecans in these at all is by reading the wrapper. 

13. Glazed Honey Bun

Honey Buns are the kind of thing that people tend to either love or hate. They're sticky, gooey, and extremely sweet. Tastykake makes three versions of this classic gas station breakfast item, including the Glazed Honey Bun, the Iced Honey Bun, and the less common Boston Creme Honey Bun. Let's start with the Glazed Honey Bun, which ranks pretty low on our list primarily because of its extremely one-note flavor profile.

The Glazed Honey Bun tastes like exactly one thing: melted sugar. This is not always a bad thing. It's a great accompaniment, for example, to a cup of over-extracted black coffee. The interior of the Tastykake Honey Bun in any of its three iterations is fluffy, buttery, and sweet. Warmed up slightly in microwave or oven, the Glazed Honey Bun becomes even more palatable as the glaze melts into the pastry. However, eaten straight from the package, it can have a slimy quality.

12. Powdered Sugar Mini Donuts

Easily the best part of Tastykake's mini donut line is the fact that these bad boys are sold not just by the sleeve but by the sack. There are ten varieties, some of them seasonal, some produced throughout the year. But we're going to start with the most basic and perhaps the most well-known offering: powdered sugar.

As is the case with the Glazed Honey Buns, Tastykake's Powdered Sugar Mini Donuts taste like sugar, and that's really about it. It is also literally impossible to even take one of these babies out of the bag without somehow dousing yourself and everything around you in powdered sugar. That said, for a packaged mini donut, this product has a decent texture, with a distinctive buttery flavor just barely perceptible beyond the sugar. Eating a bag of these is a totally pleasant way to get a serious sugar rush.

11. Chocolate Cupcakes

Tastykake products are best when there's some degree of contrast in the item, and while the brand's Chocolate Cupcakes are delicious, they lack that contrast that would take them to the next level. For lovers of pure chocolate decadence, however, these are a pretty solid bet. The cupcake is delicate, light, and moist, with an open crumb texture and a flavor profile reminiscent of devil's food cake. 

The frosting is somewhere between frosting and ganache, applied in a thin, flexible layer, almost like a slice of cheese. Perhaps because the focus here is on the chocolate, these manage to stay out of too-sweet territory and achieve a nice depth of flavor, but it is a bit one-note. Tastykake sells its chocolate cupcakes in individual packs of three or a family-sized box with six packs of two cupcakes. If you're a chocolate-on-chocolate type of person, get the box. You won't regret it. 

10. Frosted Mini Donuts

Tastykake's chocolate Frosted Mini Donuts are a study in packaged donut perfection. The interior is a buttery and light with a solid crumb structure, and the vanilla flavoring is subtle, yet not overpoweringly sweet. Each individual donut is enrobed in a chocolate frosting coating that's part fudgy frosting, part ganache. Pop them in the refrigerator before eating, and the chocolate coating develops a pleasant bite that pairs well with the density of the donut itself. Eat them at room temperature, and the coating melds seamlessly with the cake donut, creating a delightful balance of chocolate and vanilla.

These donuts do lose points for the fact that if they're left in warmer temperatures or anywhere near the sun, the coating melts off the donuts, and you're left with a barely edible mess. When you buy these from a convenience store or gas station, there's always the chance that they've melted and reformed into donut clusters rather than individual donuts. However, despite this drawback, a pile of melted chocolate-covered donuts still tastes pretty good.

9. Iced Honey Bun

We've said what we had to say about the Glazed Honey Bun being more or less a too-sweet mess. The Iced Honey Bun, however, is a different story altogether. Somehow, the application of a thick layer of frosty white vanilla icing offsets the sticky sweetness of the bun itself, making it feel more balanced. The contrast of the vanilla brings out the honey flavors of the syrupy bun, and the textural contrast between slightly hardened frosting and fluffy pastry makes this treat a delight to eat.

This one is better eaten either slightly chilled in the refrigerator or straight out of the package since the frosting doesn't take particularly well to heating. Weighing in at five ounces, it's also a pretty sizeable pastry, so you can eat one of these for breakfast and not feel hungry an hour later. While it isn't our absolute favorite Tastykake product, it's an all-around good choice.

8. Coconut Juniors

Tastykake's Juniors are basically little rectangular tea cakes that come in six flavors: lemon, orange, chocolate, chocolate kreamie, koffee kake, and coconut, which is one of the best flavors of the bunch. These start with a base of yellow cake layered with a fluffy white frosting that takes the treat to another level. If you've ever had the retro favorite seven-minute frosting, which is basically a Swiss meringue, the frosting is reminiscent of that — it's sticky, light, and marshmallow-y, with just a hint of coconut flavor that makes this a good entry-level snack for people who think they don't like coconut.

The whole thing is topped off with a thin layer of shredded coconut that clings to the frosting and adds textural interest to an otherwise-soft cake. It can be a tad on the sweet side, but that's to be expected when we're dealing with a vanilla coconut layer cake.

7. Koffee Kake Juniors

Tastykake Coconut Juniors are very good, but Koffee Kake Juniors are the undisputed best of the bunch. The base of the Koffee Kake Junior is a dense, buttery yellow cake that's reminiscent of a homestyle pound cake. It has a good amount of loft, but it isn't quite light — this is a more serious cake, meant to stand up to a strong cup of coffee.

The topping offers a buttery flavor in the form of little cylindrical pieces of crumb that are almost like a cinnamon-flavored sprinkle but with a softer mouthfeel that has give rather than chew. Take a bite, and the whole thing melts into your mouth. It tastes like the kind of thing your grandma might make, in the best way. Each cake is only two and a half ounces, and they're sold either individually or in a box of six, so you'll probably want to spring for the box.

6. Swirly Cupcakes

We docked points from the plain Chocolate Cupcakes for being a bit flat in terms of flavor. Fortunately, there's an option on the Tastykake menu that solves that problem: their Swirly Cupcakes. These might remind you of another iconic packaged cupcake with a signature vanilla frosting swirl on top of a layer of chocolate frosting, but hot take: The Tastykake version is better.

Essentially, it has the exact same chocolate cupcake and frosting base as the plain chocolate cupcakes with a creme filling and squiggle of vanilla frosting on top. We love the textural contrast between the velvety chocolate frosting and the vanilla swirl, which has a slight toothsome bite almost like royal icing. The chocolate and vanilla contrast is well-balanced, and the richness of the chocolate cupcake keeps the fluffy creme filling from being cloying. It gets bonus points for nostalgic appeal and for being the kind of snack cake that nobody doesn't like.

5. Baked Coconut Creme Pie

The individual hand pies that Tastykake makes are some of the most under-appreciated hits of its product line. The company makess a ton of flavors, including all the classic fruits like blueberry and cherry, and you can find both glazed and baked varieties. The Baked Coconut Creme Pie, though, is something else. This is probably the least sweet item on our list, which is one of the things we love about it. The pie crust is spot-on: It tastes like an all-butter crust but has the tender flaky qualities of something made with a combination of butter and shortening.

In fact, this pie tastes like something that would come out of the kitchen of a grandmother who has spent most of her life racking up state fair blue ribbons. The coconut filling is velvety, thick, and full of flavor, but again, not too sweet! There is actually a sort of almost-umami quality to the whole treat that sets it apart from its peers. 

4. Chocolate Bells

A sort of upside-down cousin to the Swirly Cupcakes, Chocolate Bells are a delicious Tastykake creation that combines the best of creme-filled chocolate cupcakes with the signature chocolate coating that makes its line of Kandy Kakes so great. The base is literally an unfrosted chocolate creme-filled cupcake turned upside down. Somehow that does make this snack cake more appealing, though we can't explain why.

The bell-shaped cake is then covered in a chocolate fudge coating that, as is the case with the chocolate Frosted Mini Donuts, is really good if you put it in the refrigerator — or better still, in the freezer. When frozen and ever-so-slightly thawed, Chocolate Bells take on an otherworldly quality, like a pair of personal semifreddos wrapped in the chocolate cupcake of your childhood dreams. The upside-down shape makes it feel fancy, like you should eat it with a fork, but you don't have to. If you haven't tried a Chocolate Bell, you're seriously missing out.

3. Creme Filled Snowballs

A unique and delicious part of Tastykake's "Other Cakes" category, along with the aforementioned Chocolate Bells, Creme Filled Snowballs are truly a unique and creative delight. We start again with that Chocolate Bell base that's been turned upside down. Instead of doubling down on the chocolate, however, the Creme Filled Snowball is wrapped in a thick layer of marshmallow — not marshmallow creme but actual marshmallow. 

That outer layer of marshmallow is then rolled in toasted coconut that is, inexplicably, dyed pink. It creates a striking visual contrast that appeals to children and nostalgic adults alike, and the texture is unlike any other snack cake in the Tastykake family. It's chewy, light, and creamy all at once, with just the slightest hint of crispiness from the toasted coconut coating. It combines flavors of deep chocolate, vanilla, marshmallow, and coconut, making this arguably the most sophisticated treat the brand offers. 

2. Butterscotch Krimpets

It was really, really hard to decide whether Butterscotch Krimpets should be first or second on this list because they are actually perfect in every way. The sponge cake base shows off the technical prowess of the Tastykake bakers. It's both light and rich, tender and moist. The blanket of butterscotch frosting lays across the pair of spongecakes in each package like freshly fallen snow. Butterscotch Krimpets are sweet but never cloying.

You can actually taste salt (!) in the frosting, and the buttery flavor of both the cake and the topping form a perfect marriage of salt, fat, and lightly caramelized sugar. The butterscotch flavor is pronounced without being overwhelming, giving this snack cake a broad appeal. We have absolutely nothing negative to say about Tastykake's Butterscotch Krimpets. The only thing that keeps it out of our top spot is the existence of our number one pick.

1. Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes

Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes are a totally unique treat, and they are the most popular item in the Tastykake family for a very good reason. We start with perfect discs of yellow sponge cake, which tastes like the same stuff that forms the base of the equally perfect Butterscotch Krimpet. That gets topped with a thick layer of peanut butter, which is at once salty and creamy and has a pleasantly toothsome bite to it.

Unlike the peanut butter in a Reese's peanut butter cup, this isn't fortified with a ton of sugar — it actually tastes like roasted nuts more than anything else. The whole thing is then coated in a semisweet chocolate shell that's thinner on the bottom and thicker on top. These things are delicious eaten straight from the package and magical when frozen. There are few things in life more satisfying than smacking the top of a Peanut Butter Kandy Kake with a spoon and watching the chocolate shell shatter. A more perfect snack cake does not exist.