Monday, September 9, 2013


I can't decide if this ad is deliberately retro, or unironic.  Of course I want it to be the former, in all its po-mo glory, but I fear the latter.  I didn't even know that Little Debbie products still existed - to me, the brand name belongs to 1960s/70s fiction, one that of course I didn't actually encounter in England, but that's long existed as a kind of literary place holder for a certain culinary moment.  And those mini Swiss Rolls! (here, complete with the Alps).  I remember very clearly indeed Lyons Swiss Rolls - which were almost always pale yellow sponge with pink jam in them - and the thinnest layer of chocolate on the outside - and then the introduction of Cadbury Swiss Rolls - Mini Rolls? - which were much more decadent, and chocolatey like the ones here - a much preferable treat for one's packed lunch.  Both had thin foil keeping them fresh, which inevitably somehow left a little speck that then got stuck on a tooth filling, and made one yelp with pain.

And Swiss Rolls go back!  Wikipedia is so useful ..." The earliest reference for a rolled cake spread with jelly was in the Northern Farmer a journal published in Utica, NY in December 1852. The recipe was called “To Make Jelly Cake” but it reads: “Bake quick and while hot spread with jelly. Roll carefully, and wrap it in a cloth. When cold cut in slices for the table.” The description is for a Jelly Roll. The name Jelly Cake comes from another cake recipe that was made up of 5 to 6 thin layers of cake with jelly between each layer. It made a thick, high cake. Jelly Cake (layer cake) is an old English recipe.
For many years there was no clear distinction between the name Jelly Cake and Jelly Roll to describe a rolled cake spread with jelly in America. During the period from 1852 to 1877 it was called: Jelly Cake (1852), Roll Jelly Cake (1860), Swiss Roll (1872), Jelly Roll (1873), and Rolled Jelly Cake (1876). The name “Jelly Roll” eventually becomes the common popular name in America."

Is that so?  You mean - Jelly Roll Morton could have been called "Swiss Roll Morton"?

W'pedia continues ...

"The name Swiss Roll appears to be British but did the name originate there? A bill of fare dated June 18, 1871 for the Union Steam-ship Company’s R.M.S. “Syria” listed Swiss Roll. That bill of fare was published in the 1872 book A Voyage from Southampton to Cape Town, in the Union Company’s Mail Steamer “Syria” in London. So far this is the earliest British reference to a rolled cake. That same year 1872, The American Home Cook Book published in Detroit, Michigan listed a recipe for Swiss Roll. This raises the question in what country did the name Swiss Roll originate? In the 1894, American Pastry Cook published in Chicago, there is an unusual arrangement of recipes. It started with Jelly Roll Mixture followed by Swiss Roll, Venice Roll, Paris Roll, Chocolate Roll, Jelly Roll Cotelettes, and Decorated Jelly Rolls. Each recipe utilized the basic Jelly Roll cake made from the Jelly Roll Mixture. In turn, each recipe was completed and finished in a different way thus distinguishing several European versions. In this cookbook, the Jelly Roll has a different name in each country. Several 1880’s to 1890’s cookbooks from London, England used the name Swiss Roll exclusively making it the popular name for the rolled cake recipe in England."

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