The mid to late 20th century was the era of mass marketed snack cakes; national brands like Hostess were the best-known, but there were others including Drake’s Cakes (1896), Philadelphia’s Tastykake (1914) and the nobly named Dolly Madison.
Dolly Madison began in 1937, and was formerly owned by Hostess’ then parent company, Interstate Brands Corp. It was founded by Kansas City baker Roy Nafziger, who was fascinated by American history, and felt that there needed to be a cake brand worthy of first lady Dolley Madison. Madison was known as a great entertainer, both at the White House and the Madison’s Virginia plantation farm, Montpelier.
Nafziger, of Kansas City, was an entrepreneur who started a small bakery in the basement of the Prospect Avenue Christian Church in 1906. The church liked for him to bake in the winter, it was said, as it heated up the church during cold winter months, according to an old National Baking Journal.
Nafziger was described by the Desert Sun as being “born with a special bounce and a gift of laughter.” By 1951, Nafziger had bought a house in Palm Springs and owned 23 plants around the U.S. In Palm Springs, he lived next door to Jack Benny and composer David Rose. The brand became nationally famous during the Peanuts specials on CBS.
After Hostess bankruptcy, the brand returned in 2018. Products included Donut Gems; Zingers; Dolly Madison Chocolate Cremes; Dolly Madison Golden Creme Cakes; Dolly Madison Chocolate Cupcakes; and Dolly Madison Coffee Cakes.
While they look remarkably like Hostess cakes, the brand is back; we found a large display of the cakes at a Florida Dollar Tree. They are also at Sam’s Club.