First posted on 09-24-2006
“Chocolaty keen with cream in between.” That’s how it was billed, and when I was a kid that was all it took for my mouth to ache with desire for a Lucky Cake. Tip Top bakery was responsible for the confection and my quarters helped fill that company’s coffers. The old black and white television commercial featured a childlike figure, with a flute if I recall correctly. But it was a long time ago. I doubt Lucky Cakes are even made anymore. Which is too bad because writing that first sentence puts the taste back in my mouth.
For those unaffected by Lucky Cake fever, the snack/dessert/breakfast food was simply a moist, round chocolate cake cut in half sandwich style and layered with the finest white cream filling imaginable. That was it. No icing, no fancy swirled white frosting across the top - just plain cake and filling that you were lucky to discover and even luckier to consume.
I remember bugging my parents to buy one (or several if I played my cards right) on every grocery trip. And when the day finally arrived that I was old enough to hike the full city block to the corner store to buy one myself, why it was a Kodak moment indeed. The Price’s house was the halfway point in my trek and the point at which it felt I had escaped the gravity of my small house on Mulberry Street and had stepped into the “real world.” Across the street from the Price house was a duplex, then an open lot that would soon become a construction site, a battlefield, an alien planet and a fierce jungle in the imaginations of my brother and me.
Across the street from that, on the corner of Mulberry and Columbia, was the market - a butcher shop that also sold a few grocery items like milk, bread and snack items. John was my favorite butcher. He was thick chested, tall (or so it seemed from my vantage point at that time) with light colored horn-rimmed glasses and short cropped dark hair. John was cool. His starched white shirt and crisp apron was always neat and clean despite his profession. He treated me like his best customer and later, after I began frequenting his establishment, John would greet me with a slight grin and point to the shelf where the Lucky Cakes were proudly displayed. Yeah, old John knew his customers all right. I’d plunk down my quarter, John would thank me for my patronage and I’d be on my way.
I must have run all the way home because the return trip always seemed much shorter. And when I got there, it was me, an ice cold glass of milk and my Lucky Cake. Man, life didn’t get much better than that for a kid.
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