Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Dark Side of the Vachon Cake - The Passion Flakie

I don't want to give you the impression that Vachon cakes were all good news.

I have no idea how widespread this was, or if it was only ever something that happened in Newfoundland Junior High Schools. However, when I was growing up, it was a very foolish thing to show up in school if people knew it was your birthday that day. The ever-present threat was that someone was going to 'Flakie' you -- in other words, smoosh the [questionably] popular Flakie cake into your face. If they were at all cruel, they'd separate the cake into two halves, so they could surprise you with creamy flaky goodness, and then get you with the second half once you'd recovered and wiped the gunk from your eyes.

There was very little point in trying to resist this rite of passage. If someone had gotten it into their head to Flakie you, you were going to get Flakied. If you tried to run, someone would catch you and hold your arms behind your back while justice was served. At least in our school, the teachers had realized that there was no way to stop birthday Flakie-ings from happening. The most that they could enforce was a limit of one Flakie per birthday.

And honestly, that stuff was awful! In theory, the flaky pastry was tolerable, but I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was inside it. Some kind of creme filling, which I guess was the same stuff as in the rest of the Vachon cakes, but to me it always tasted chemically and artificial. There was white stuff in there, and there was pink stuff in there. Subsequent research tells me that the pink was apple/raspberry flavoured, but you could have fooled me. Being hit with a Flakie was not only embarrassing, it was disgusting. I think that I only ever knew three people who actually ate the things, without doing so ironically. (And that's just a guess -- I couldn't tell you who those three people were, but there couldn't have been more than that...)

And then in 2000, a protester hit the Canadian Prime Minister in the face with a pie. I guess he'd been Flakied once too often as a kid. Do you see why we should have cracked down on this sooner?

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Glory of the Vachon Cake Part 2 - The Half Moon

There are a couple of things to point out about the Half Moon.

The Vachon website says that it's intended for those who "crave the delicious taste of moist vanilla cake and creamy filling without the chocolate coating." In other words, for those who like the idea of a May West, but want to pretend they're eating something that won't go straight to their hips.

Vachon makes two kinds of Half Moons: the vanilla kind (like the aforementioned May West without chocolate) and the chocolate kind (like an uncoated Jos. Louis). Let the record show that the only one worth getting in your lunchbox is the white kind. Any further discussion of the issue serves no purpose whatsoever.

The other thing to point out is this. This is where the advantage of growing up in Canada lies. Because all our foods are labelled in both official languages, English and French, there is a certain amount of of French that every English-speaking Canadian child has learned from labels. "Candy", "Cookies", "Peanut Butter", "Bonus", and from cereal boxes "Free Prize Inside".

There is a downside to that, however. A friend of my brother's, after many trips to get candy at a local store called "Parkdale Pharmacy", decided that "Pharmacy" must be French for "Parkdale". And of course, the popular misconception that works the other way. Constantly seeing boxes advertising "1/2 Lune Moons," generations of Canadians grew up referring to the tasty treats by a hybrid French/English name: Lune Moons. O Canada.