Upper Crust Bakery is not an instantly recognized brand name. The Phoenix, Arizona-based baked good brand isn’t named for a little pony-riding red head or hawked by freaky anthropomorphized versions of its own products. And its name comes from a common idiom which has been incorporated by many a café and bakery across the land, many of whom may have forgotten the phrase means snobbish and conceited as well as first class. (But it also makes us think of pie and we like that). Nevertheless, since 1980, Upper Crust Bakery has worked its way into convenience and grocery stores, in-flight airline food service back in the day when that was a thing, and enormo-warehouse clubs like Costco. You’ve probably purchased and gorged on one of their offerings and not even known it. ‘Cause when those late night drunken sweet tooth cravings hit, do we really care who actually makes the stuff? No. We crave, we procure, we consume.
So on a recent trip to Costco to stock up on Aussie Bites, we were blinded by and drawn to the vast plastic vat of yellow orbs we’ve come to know as Mini Lemon Bites. And honestly, the only reason we’re even paying attention to the brand name of these little pieces of sweet sunshine is for the higher purpose — the community service — that is this review.
But let it be known: UCB has skillz.
Each golden cake is roughly an inch and a half in diameter and one inch thick – perfect for one big gulp if you’re a pig, or a couple of satisfying bites if you’re aiming to keep it classy. The cake’s coated in a light yellow icing that we’ll call canary rather than lemon. Five drizzled straight white lines add texture and visual interest. The lemon smell starts creamy and sweet up front, then hits hard with the tart as it bounces off the backside of your brain. The yellow cake alone is properly moist and alive with lemon. Maybe not enough lemon to prevent scurvy, but enough for you to give it the respect it deserves. The icing is really where the tart kick comes in. And taken together, the cake and icing suggest best part of a lemon drop martini on a hot Summer patio. Well, assuming the best part isn’t the vodka. In that context, you’re lucky to get a “twist” of lemon peel to chew on. With these cakes, despite the long ingredient list, the taste is natural and will give you a proper lemon buzz. 15 grams of sugar per mini, too, so you know this buzz has sweet bite.
Upper Crust Bakery believes that “every meal of the day requires baked goods to make it complete.” Even in-flight meals, apparently. We think so too, but we also believe a baked good can be its own miniature sunshine experience. Thank you, gigantic vat of Mini Lemon Bites. Thank you.