Lost Treasure: Apollo Cake Co.

On November 19, 2011, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

On The Silly Side by Jimmy Del Ponte

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

Remember how we used to roll our eyes when our parents told us how they could see five movies, buy candy, soda and popcorn, ride the trolleys all day and still come home with change of a quarter? Well, let’s congratulate ourselves because we have officially become our parents.

An online search tells us that The Apollo Cake Company opened in 1929 at 16 Garfield St. in Somerville. It used to cost a nickel to swim at the Foss Park pool, and a nickel for a brownie at the Apollo Cake Co. Apollo Cake closed in the late 70’s – early 80’s (we’re not sure) but not before just about every kid in the ‘Ville enjoyed their wide variety of delicious, frosted, creamy raisiny, freshly baked treats.

Many of my friends have memories and stories about Apollo Cake. “We used to run across the highway from Foss Park and get the brownie seconds, two for a quarter. Sometimes, when we were playing at Foss, that was breakfast and lunch.” You could get a whole bag of hermits for a dollar.

Another friend recalls, “We would get dime bags of broken brownies every Saturday morning! We would sacrifice our cartoons for brownies – often! Miss those days! My favorites were those huge cupcakes that had the big center filled with cream…YUM!!!! We also loved the Swiss Roll!’ We would sometimes pool our money to get one of those and share it among my friends. It got very messy but so worth it!”

A buddy of mine tells me that his aunt worked at Apollo and would bring home lots of cupcakes and other goodies. This is my favorite Apollo Cake story: “My father would get what he called a sweet tooth and have one of us ride our bike down to get a couple of the chocolate roll cakes. They were the only sweets he ever really liked. I liked it best unrolled and eaten flat. After, I’d lick off the cream. The funny thing was that we couldn’t go off the street on our bikes, but all of a sudden going to get the cakes was no longer a dangerous ride. I miss my Dad, and I miss the cake as well!”

One friend attributes his addiction to carrot cake to Apollo Cake. Their spice cakes were not too shabby either. They featured an item called “twins.” It was a two pack of Whoopee Pies. Now I ask you, what’s better than Whoopee Pies?

Another place we used to go to was Russell’s Donuts which was across from Highland Road near the railroad tracks. We could smell the donuts baking while we were playing at Lexington Park. I got a lot of delicious donuts from Russell’s and I miss it. I swear, I can still smell those huge honey dip donuts baking at Russell’s.

Somerville has a vast history of great bakeries. Some have lasted decades and some have come and gone. The Apollo Cake Company in East Somerville provided many ‘Villens with wonderful (and delicious) memories.

Mark your calendar for the big Holiday in The ‘Ville show at The Somerville Theatre on Saturday November 26. Tickets are available at the Somerville Theatre box office or by calling Rick Saunders, music director for Somerville schools, at 617-625-660 extension 6143.

 

17 Responses to “Lost Treasure: Apollo Cake Co.”

  1. j. connelly says:

    Jimmy, funny this article came out as the other day I had to give my brother a ride and we took a turn by the Hess station/McGrath Hwy and then a right on Garfield Ave….Me brudda’s eyes welled up & I thought we were have to get out of the car & say a prayer…we were at the site of “The Apollo” his favorite place.

    To this day he always tells me when I’m out on the road to look for God’s gift to man…The Apollo Chocolate cream filled Swiss Roll. I have hunted far & wide…Lyndells & even out of state bakeries and when I arrive home to tell him I have found his dream…he looks, sometimes takes a bite and then like the look on a disappointed child at Christmas, tells me “No, that’s not “The Apollo”.

    They either lack the consistency, the whipped filling isnt the same….
    and God help us….none of them have that exact same style granular sugar coating on the outside of the roll…and now to his dismay…his 2nd favorite…Yankee Doodles are no longer made as Drakes sold out to Hostess up in Maine, and they do not make them. I thought I was gona have to send him for therapy

    What can I say…he’s a “jake” (firefighter) and after their bravery comes their culinary expertise…When they are on duty, if the guy doin the cookin that shift mentions subs or pizza…they moan or roll their eyes..lol.
    [When I was on the job if the assigned cook for the shift ever mentioned sending out for pizza/subs,the Lieutenant would tell him he was being transferred off of our group]. They are professionals in their work & their cooking.

  2. Jimmy Del Ponte says:

    Great story J. Thanks for sharing it. My uncle Joe DelPonte was assigned to Engine 7 for years and I remeber the firefighters cooking a few times when we visited. I hope he locates a suitable swiss roll someday !

  3. Donald says:

    Jimmy, a nice story on Apollo Cakes, the place was awesome, it was a special treat to go there everytime we had extra change in our pockets, to get those chocolate rolls and the brownies which were the best. Great memories of going there, sitting outside with friends and eating them, and going back inside to get more, best value in town outside the Broadway theater on a Saturday for .25cents.two full movies in between cartoons and special features. Once in a while Major Mudd would show up for the kids on a Saturday.
    Does anyone remember Roy Rogers coming to Somerville, way back, I remember going to the high school to see him.

  4. Boston Kate says:

    Can y’all remember if their logo had a rising sun, with rays of sunshine emanating from it. I remember a line of cakes, etc. from the neighborhood store, in Medford, where I grew up (late 50’s). My mother would send us for bread or something else and tell us that we could pick out a dessert for supper.

  5. Donald says:

    Not sure what the logo was other then the way the name was done on the cakes….and i am pretty sure they didn’t bake breads, just cake items mostly outside of their famous Hermits they use to sell in a small bag.

  6. j. connelly says:

    Well B.K., I remember the House of the Rising Sun & I think you are correct they had delivery trucks that were light [cream] colored on the upper part & blue on the bottom & the company emblem of the sunshine with the rays on the side.

    Do you remember the little delivery trucks that looked like milk trucks but delivered bakery products to the homes….I cant remember if they said Bakers Pride on the side or not…..WOW am I old or what??? I even remember the Ice Wagons pulled by horses just before they were phased out.

    No information superhighways back then, yet it was a better life style than the rush…rush…politically [un] correct life style of today.

  7. john n says:

    J.connelly, i believe the bakery truck your talking about was Cushman’s they delivered bread and cookies plus on their home deliveries. I remember the hood trucks doing home deliveries as well.

  8. j. connelly says:

    “john n” Yes I believe you are correct about it being Cushmans. I also remember the Hood trucks…Our Hood milkman would pick me up @ 4:30 a.m. and I would help him do his route up by Tufts. Then we would pile the empty milk cases by a pole on Dearborn Rd & meet a straight job Hoods truck that would give us the rest of the load for the route.

    The great lady’s at Hoopers (Tufts) Infirmary would have cocoa/coffee for us when we delivered the milk there & on occasion warm homemade bread or cookies…Then around six he would drop me off on Curtis St @ Burkes News so I could do my paper route.

    Those were good times!

  9. Jim Robertson says:

    Oh, jimmy you bring back so many memories.I used to stop at Apollo cake on my way down to foss park to the john latta pool as so many residents from somerville did.Did you remember the bakery at the corner of Broadway and Minnesota ave.that’s going way back? How about the Kennedys butter and egg store down by Franklin st,and the old Broadway show where the Powers girls worked and the old Broadway cafe.These are all old East Somerville institutions.it’s so nice to reminisce with an old friend,jimbo say hello to everyone ill be home for the holidays,i’m living up in Salem n.h.so i can get that tax break,HA HA Thanks jimmy YOURS TRULY BIG JIM ROBERTSON

  10. Boston Kate says:

    Yes! Cushman’s! I have a memory of the car resembling a hearse. Yet, I can see my friend’s mother picking out items from what looked like the trunk. Oh, and milk trucks. It seemed like the coolest job, to me. Those of us who can remember them, are lucky. J-Con – I wish I could say that I remember seeing horse-drawn ice wagons; that is one great image you can treasure.

  11. Mike From Charlestown says:

    Apollo made Big Twins. Two devil chocolate cakes ( sort of like strawberry shortcake cakes ) filled with an unbelievably delicious white cream filling sprinkled with jimmies. You could get them fresh in the bakery store for a dime. Outrageously good!!!!

  12. Paul From Medford says:

    Ahhhh……Big Twins, absolutely the best cake product ever. Although the originals were covered with jimmies, as a cost savings in the last 10 years or so of production, jimmies were excluded. Jimmies or not, Big Twins were better then anything ever made by either Hostess or Drake’s. Still miss ‘em. The chocolate cake rolls were pretty good too, as were the spice cakes.

  13. Butch DiPrima says:

    For many years, My Dad had a Apollo cake route in the Methuen area. Their cakes were fabulous and so were the memories I shared with Dad during these times. After all my little league games, he would open up the back door of his truck and treat all my team mates with goodies. I am now 70 years old and just last week, someone talked to me about that. No one could beat their cakes, chocolate fudge, chocolate and jelly rolls, pound cakes, especially their silver pound cake. Those days and their cakes were simply the best.

  14. Victoria says:

    oooh yes, I remember those Apollo Chocolate Rolls! Yum! We could find them here on the South Shore too. I loved to cut a thin slice and sprinkle it with a little sugar and then eat it from the outside to the center of the piece. And then slice another think slice , sprinkle it with sugar and eat the same way. Slicing it think was the only way my Mom would let me have more then one slice. It was so good. It was Mom’s favorite too. We were sad when we could no longer find them. I never knew where they were made just they were made by the Appollo Bakery. Of course back then I had never heard of Somerville which is probably why I don’t remember where they were made. lol

  15. Victoria says:

    Oops that was slicing it thin not think. Of course just thinking of these cakes is making me crave one. ;)

  16. brownie says:

    I just had a craving for an Apollo BROWNIE, which had a fudge topping. I’d bicycle as a kid for about 3 miles to a convenience/deli down near Dorchester Lower Mills for a soda and brownie or submarine and brownie. My God, they were so good.

  17. BILL ROGERS says:

    JIMMY, I REMEMBER APOLLO CAKES AS A KID BUT TOWARDS THE END I SEEM TO REMEMBER THE CREAM HAVING AN OIL TASTE. DID YOU NOTICE THIS ALSO.

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