Ryan Taylor loves cake so much he used to make a weekly pilgrimage to Cub for a big fat personal slice. In 2011, Taylor’s enthusiasm morphed into a company called Cakedy (pronounced cake-uh-dee, a sound that mimics Taylor’s playful attitude) and a mission to create a candy bar that equals the joy of a dense piece of your favorite cake.
A Cakedy candy bar is thick and stubby and kind of charmingly misshapen here and there. Its “cake nougat” filling has a decadent, under-baked quality and a pleasant stickiness that doesn’t overwhelm the way many candy bars can with their oozing caramel and super-sweet edge. The nougat is flecked with teeny candy chips and covered in a thick candy shell.
We tasted the Peanutter and the RedHead, two of Cakedy’s three current flavors. The third is a double chocolate bar with mint candy chips called Choco Chocatus.
The Peanutter is the company’s best seller, and it’s no surprise. Its soft peanut butter cake nougat has all the allure of those childhood Little Debbie Nutty Bars without the thick, mouth-coating quality. It’s subtle and delicately sweetened by butterscotch chips and a chocolate shell.
The RedHead bar pays funky homage to the red velvet cake craze, with bright strawberry cake nougat, strawberry candy chips, and a vanilla candy shell. The combination leans more toward the cloying and artificial, but strawberry is a devil of flavor to convincingly recreate, and the bar’s moist, center-of-the-brownie texture keeps it from entering crappy candy land.
Taylor’s sister Krystal is the woman behind the Cakedy recipes, and it was her idea to add mini candy chips to each bar’s filling. Taylor’s small but enthusiastic team did loads of consumer research (on local and national levels) before getting started, down to holding a large public tasting on Nicollet Avenue last year. “Honestly, we’re always tinkering with new things in the kitchen,” says Taylor.
The production team sources ingredients from grocery store chains and Lynn’s Cake and Candy Supplies, and right now they’re working on a caramel-based bar for release this spring. According to Taylor, a consumer flavor contest yielded 100 fancy flavor ideas, “all of which I would like to explore,” he says, “much to Krystal’s chagrin.”
Although he’s new to the Minneapolis-St. Paul food scene, Taylor’s got a big vision: “I’m very ambitious. My ultimate goal is to have Cakedy bars sold everywhere you can find a Snickers. If Snickers is in the UK, I want the Brits chowing down on RedHead. If Snickers is ‘A1’ in the vending machine, then Cakedy is ‘A2.'” After selling Cakedy at local craft markets, Taylor’s small team quickly headed for a wholesale license and began peddling candy to local retailers. Their current target market is large grocery chains, but they hope to also plant seeds in more specialized spots like Sugar Sugar.
You can buy Cakedy in bulk on the company’s website, and you can also find them on the shelves at Sentyrz Grocery in Northeast Minneapolis, as well as a smattering of convenience stores and coffee shops in the metro area. Ann Yin of Local D’Lish has recently begun test-selling Cakedy products in her shop. As a perennial proponent of the small and local food vendor, Yin says, “I want to be a resource for [Cakedy]” by encouraging them to begin using higher quality and local ingredients. She thinks “they have a fun product,” with the goofy, party-favor appeal of a cake pop, and she’d love to see them succeed as a truly local confection.
While Cakedy is reaching out to franchises in the Carolinas and Florida, Taylor feels his product will do especially well here in Minnesota. His spirited foray into candy land has opened his eyes to all that’s bursting on the local food scene: “I think [Minnesotans] enjoy new and unique food experiences, and that’s just what Cakedy delivers.”