I heard back today from the folks who run Little Debbie's, the well-preserved (critics might say "embalmed") cheap snack cakes that draw my kids to Target, about the question of whether what's bad for Philly's Tastykake might be good for the "longer shelf life" junk food sellers.
Mike Gloeker, spokesman for Debbie owner McKee Foods of Collegedale, Tennessee, took the high road in response when he called me back:
"We have a high level of respect for Tastykake. Regional brands are so important to the economy, and Tastykake has been a part of Philadelphia’s landscape for so many years.
"Their position as a top regional brand has given them enviable consumer loyalty, and they have provided jobs for many people.
"The sweet snack business is a very competitive one. But putting market competition aside, we would regret seeing any distress put on Tastykake or its employees, especially during the current economic environment."
So, I asked Gloeker, if Little Deb likes Tasty so much, would you consider buying the cash-strapped South Philly bakery? He demurred; noted Little Debbie has done acquisitions - but they tend to be for increased production of the customer's existing cakes, not new product lines."
And he concluded: "It’s unfortunate to see a good company go through difficult times, even if they are a competitor." Southern courtesy lives!