The ‘60s brought us many wonderful things, from capri pants to Bob Dylan. It was also the peak of snacks like Twizzlers, Salty Surfers, Humpty Dumpty Potato Chips and, most importantly, Ring Dings. Ring Dings were the ultimate sweet snack during the ‘60s made by Drake’s Cakes, a baked goods company founded in Harlem. The creation of this snack in 1958 is considered a high note in the company’s history. But what are Ring Dings?
They are round devil’s food cakes, covered with a hard chocolate shell and a rich vanilla filling. For a long time, Ring Dings were forgotten as they were replaced by other snacks such as Twix, Mars Bars and Crunch Bars. However, the first ever female chef of the Plaza Hotel in New York City, Madeline Lanciani, decided to bring these small cakes back and with a twist.
Established by Madeline Lanciani in 1922, Duane Park Patisserie is located in a quiet corner of Greenwich Village where the sweet smell of cakes and cookies can be noticed from a block away, prompting you to walk a little bit faster toward this bakery. Once you enter, the first thing you see is the register and all the delicious pastries and desserts on display in all their glory. Every color is present, from rich dark brown to shiny bright green. The walls are covered with the accomplishments of and articles about the bakery and Lanciani. After the initial fascination you get upon entering this bakery, you can finally concentrate on why you came here — the Ring Dings. Described as mess-free, perfectly portable and ideally-sized cakes on its brochure, Lanciani is sure that these will be the best cakes you have ever eaten.
Duane Park Patisserie’s counter girl Jana Johnson is responsible for being the face of the bakery as well as handling packages. She gave some insight on how Lanciani got the idea for Ring Dings.
“Her son and her son’s friends pushed her to make them,” Johnson said. “She would only make them at home for her children but then she decided to make them for the bakery, and they became super popular.”
What makes Lanciani’s Ring Dings different from Drake’s cakes is the fresh, quality ingredients she uses and the different flavor combinations she comes up with. French Toast Ring Ding, for example; is made from a fluffy maple cake with a light cinnamon cream filling and a hard milk chocolate coating. The cake and filling are the perfect amount of sweet so the chocolate coating neither overpowers them nor turns it into an extremely sweet dessert. Another Ring Ding is Mama’s Margarita, a tangy lime cake with orange cream filling, a white chocolate coating and a sprinkle of salt.
Johnson mentions many other flavors like Nutella, Strawberry Shortcake and Pumpkin Spice. However, there is one clear winner for her.
“My personal favorite is the pistachio raspberry, which is a pistachio cake with a light raspberry jam,” Johnson said. “It has a white chocolate coating.”
The bakery runs out of many of their flavors before noon, a sign that the popularity of Ring Dings is increasing, and not only in the United States.
“They are super popular. We get a lot of orders from all over the world,” Johnson said. “I just met a few people from Belgium who came and found us on Instagram.”
Although they are a little expensive with a $5 price tag, these innovative Ring Dings are definitely worth a try, especially if you have a sweet tooth. The bakery also serves coffee and tea, so you can enjoy a cup of hot beverage while you bite into the hard chocolate shell of your delicious dessert. To Johnson, there is no better snack than a flavorful Ring Ding.
“A great tip is, I tell people to never share Ring Dings because they are going to be so upset when it is over,” Johnson says.
So grab your wallet and pay this adorable patisserie a visit. Trust us, you will not regret it.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 13 print edition. Email Yasmin Gulec at [email protected]