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The Entenmann’s Trifecta

I don’t make the rules, but I’m willing to bet every family in the tri-state area had its three go-to products

Eight boxes containing different Entenmann’s baked items stacked on a checkout counter. Photo by Jen Gallardo/Flickr; logo by Goldsuit

Every family in the tri-state area — or maybe just families near where I grew up, with easy access to a bakery outlet store — has what I call an “Entenmann’s trifecta.”

At my house, it was the Entenmann’s mini chocolate chip cookies, marshmallow-iced devil’s food cake, and the mini chocolate-iced doughnuts. For my friend Meaghan, it was the yellow cake with fudge icing, crumb cake, and full-sized chocolate-covered doughnuts. Ramon’s family preferred the butter loaf cake and crumb cake, while their third was interchangeable between cookies or doughnuts. My colleague Hillary’s family also went for the mini chocolate chip cookies, along with the crumb doughnuts; she remembers her grandmother plating the marshmallow-iced devil’s food cake on fancy china for dessert. Kate, whose family would reach for the butter loaf cake, crumb-topped doughnuts, and the raspberry danish, recently earned major group-chat points by posting a photo from 1985 of her toddler self with a cardboard Entenmann’s food truck, which her parents got in a giveaway at the local outlet store. Grocery-store-baked-goods love runs deep.

Photo from the 80s showing a toddler wearing a jumpsuit and Mickey Mouse ears hat, standing inside a cardboard cutout of an Entenmann’s food truck.
My friend Kate with her Entenmann’s food truck in 1985; photo used here with her parents’ enthusiastic blessing.

The fact that so many people can immediately conjure an Entenmann’s trifecta — not just one or two go-to items, but nearly always exactly three — speaks to the brand’s versatility. The brand, owned by Mexico’s packaged-food conglomerate Groupo Bimbo since 2008, offers more than 100 products, so there’s nearly always something for everyone… assuming your family’s tastes can be narrowed down to three products. That the rule of three applies here also nods to its pull in so many households. It’s not necessarily loyalty, exactly: I personally haven’t had an Entenmann’s anything in years, but the baked goods have managed to tie themselves up in a series of fond nostalgic memories. I remember biting off sections of the chocolate doughnut icing after my mom would lay them out on a plate, alongside a cup of milk for breakfast. I remember the careful act of cutting through the chocolate cake, mindful of the stickiness of that marshmallow icing, for a family-shared dessert. My friend Laura shared memories of family chiding over the fact that she was allowed to eat Entenmann’s chocolate cake for breakfast (something my family also cosigned), and noted that her parents still have doughnuts on-hand as a “special treat” at their house. Her own son now gets Entenmann’s Little Bites for his own snacktime.

If what you snack on reveals who you are, looking back at this week’s Snack Week has, I think, inadvertently revealed what we all miss during this — sigh — unprecedented time. My latching into Entenmann’s memories is less about the treats and more about missing my family — longtime provider of Entenmann’s — and friends who are 3,000 miles away. What I really miss are the days when I could enjoy a slightly chalky chocolate doughnut with my parents, or the idea of sharing a store-bought coffee cake at a group brunch.

For me, an Entenmann’s trifecta represents a time when needs were both simple and cared for. You didn’t have to worry about illness or fires consuming forests and towns and turning the sky yellow. You had someone to worry about that for you, and while they were worrying, they’d distract you with mini cookies... or devil’s food cake... or chocolate doughnuts. They’d even do the work of narrowing down Entenmann’s bloated snack line into a succinct grouping of products that always found their way into your home, with just a little bit of variety — never more (or less) than the three.