When I was a kid, my mom would put tiny notes in my lunchbox every day. They’d say things like, “I love you, honey” or “I hope you had sweet dreams.” Half way through first grade I started having trouble in English. I couldn’t figure out the a/an thing. A book. An apple. My mom requested that a teacher spend extra time explaining the difference to me. During those special a/an days, my lunchbox notes included “You’re doing great!” and “You’re so smart!”.
Looking back, slipping sweet notes in your kid’s lunchbox is about the nicest thing you can do.
Along with my note, I always found a Little Debbie snack. That was perhaps a less wonderful thing to do since those little devils are downright terrible for you. If you too ate Little Debbie snacks, you’ll remember how the chocolate came off in sheets, how the fluffiness of the fake cream filled your kid-sized mouth. You’ll remember the sheer fun you had eating a Zebra Cake or a Swiss Roll.
This past week, I found myself on the Upper East Side in the dining room of a gentleman who survived the Holocaust. Lisa and I spent about three hours with the man discussing his family history. At 3pm, we departed and began walking down Lexington Avenue, much on our minds, much on our hearts. Lisa and I are often hungry after we meet with a client. Talking life stories takes something out of you. Lisa usually goes for something like a kombucha. I usually go for something sweet.

devil cake

We entered a grocery store called Butterfield. It was hands down the nicest grocery store I’ve ever been into. I’m not saying it was intriguing and strange like some of the Russian shops on Coney Island, or wanderlust and fragrant like Patel Brothers in Jamaica Queens. It was, rather, quaint and pulled together and very, very gourmet. Very Upper East Side. We wandered the well merchandized islands of good-things and in an instant I recognized a sweet from my childhood. The Butterfields had gone and recreated a Little Debbie snack. They called it a Devil Cake but it was actually a recreation of a Little Debbie “Cocoa Creme” cake. How nice of them to respect trademark laws.
I didn’t eat my Devil Cake right away. I didn’t even sneak a bite on the train back to our office. I needed to give this thing my full attention. Totally unlike a kid, I  put the little cake on a plate. I got out a fork. I stared at it. Then I pressed my fork into the edge and pulled away a generous bite-size. The cream was real cream, but the chocolate, the chocolate came off like it always had, in a sheet. One bite and I was back in my old lunchroom, kids screaming all around, and me thinking, “Mom is so cool.”