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Wegman's Ultimate Chocolate Cake

From: Kim 
Sent: Saturday, June 16, 2012 8:16 PM
Subject: Chocolate Cake at the Wegmans Bakery

Hi Phaed, 

I cannot thank you enough for this website. I have found so many lost recipes and found some new recipes that are now my favorites. 
I have a request for you and your faithful readers. I live in Rochester NY and shop regularly at the Wegman’s grocery store. 
In their bakery they serve the most wonderful chocolate cake topped by the best frosting I have ever tasted. 
It is a layer cake that comes in two sizes, large and small. The name of the cake is Wegman’s Ultimate Chocolate Cake. 
This is a cake that will have you sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night just for another taste.  
I am hoping that you or some kind reader will be able to provide a good copycat recipe for the frosting. 
It is rich and chocolaty and anyone who shops at the Wegman’s bakery will know just the cake I am referring to.  
Incidentally, how on earth did you dream up this wonderful website? How ever you did it, well it is just pure genius.

Many Thanks,

Kim R

Hi Kim,

Thanks for the kind words. “Uncle Phaedrus” started as a trivia Q&A message board on a local BBS back in the 1990s. When the Internet came to town, I tried to transfer the idea to the web, with little success. Then, in about 1999, I got a few food questions and the owner of a popular recipe site placed a link to Uncle Phaedrus on her website. As a result, I began getting more and more food and recipe requests, and the recipe theme soon took over. I found looking for lost recipes to be quite challenging and had no complaints about the change in theme. I still get an occasional non-recipe question and am pleased to get them.

I’m sure you know how Wegman’s “Ultimate Chocolate Cake” came about. They had a contest among Wegman’s employees to see who could make the best chocolate cake. The winner was Libby McGinley with her “Deep, Dark Chocolate Cake”. With Libby’s recipe as a starting point, Wegman’s bakers then developed their recipe for “Ultimate Chocolate Cake”. They didn’t just use her recipe, but they used her cake as a model to develop a dark, moist, rich chocolate cake. The story is here:


Wegman’s has never given out a recipe for a home version of their cake, nor is Libby’s original recipe available. I had no success finding anything particular about the frosting recipe. No copycats. I did find a couple of recipes called “ultimate chocolate cake”, that may be similar. See:


Full Moon BBQ Chow-Chow

From: Karen
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2012 2:45 PM
Subject: Recipes Search
I am looking for a couple of different recipes that I haven’t found any clue as how to make:

Full Moon BBQ in Birmingham Alabama has “Chow Chow” that is out of this world.

If you know of anything or anyone having a clue as to how to prepare the recipes I would be greatly appreciative.

Thank you,


Hello Karen,

Be very careful in searching for this recipe on the Internet. Every site I found that claimed to have this recipe turned out to be a malware site.

Lots of people love the chow-chow at Full Moon BBQ. The recipe, like most of Full Moon BBQ’s recipes, is a secret. It’s not available. You can buy their chow-chow in several stores in Alabama. They don’t say that they sell it over the Internet, but if you call them, they might ship you some.
Their website is: Full Moon BBQ

I can’t give you a clue about a similar chow-chow recipe. I didn’t find any complete recipes that claimed to taste similar, and I have never tasted Full Moon BBQ chow-chow, so I cannot recommend a recipe.

Perhaps a reader will be able to help.


Catfish King Apple Fritters

From: Karen 
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2012 2:45 PM
Subject: Recipes Search
I am looking for a couple of different recipes that I haven’t found any clue as how to make:

Catfish King in Birmingham Alabama in the 1960’s had “Apple Fritters” that were coated in powdered sugar.

If you know of anything or anyone having a clue as to how to prepare the recipes I would be greatly appreciative.

Thank you,


Hi Karen,

I cannot find anything about Catfish King’s apple fritters except a few nostalgic mentions on message boards. I do not expect that the recipe is available. I’ll post the request on my site. If these were made from scratch at the Catfish King stores, maybe a former employee will read the request and be able to help. However, my experience with restaurant chains is that these were probably pre-made at a central location or by a vendor, and then shipped frozen to the local Catfish Kings. If so, it would be unlikely to find a recipe. I can’t remember when Catfish King went out of business, but if it was before the Internet, then there’s less hope of finding a copycat recipe.


From: Fred 
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 7:44 PM
Subject: Catfish King/Karen's recipe request


Stumbled upon your site while once again trying to dig up info on the old Catfish King Restaurant. 

While Karen longs for those oh so tasty apple fritters, what I've never found is the fried chicken that was to die for. 
More than that, I've never once found a piece of fried chicken that is in the same neighborhood.
What leaves one astounded is that it wasn't just the chicken, or the catfish, or the apple fritters, or the amazing 
salad with house dressing, it just all went together and every visit made for a lifetime memory.
The setting was incredible, as you walked down the aisle (center) of this old landmark theater, complete with the 
extravagant stage right there. 

I personally think you're off base on this one because Catfish King really wasn't that big a deal, as chains go. 
The Ensley location was far and away the place to eat. The only other one I recall is the one that opened later 
near 4th Ave So., and it was depressing after growing up on the Ensley location.
So, it's my opinion that everything was all hand made fare. What bugs me the most is that there just isn't any 
information on who owned the original Catfish King or any accompanying story about how it all came about. 

Like Karen, all I have are these stories to tell others, about how good chicken and catfish and apple fritters can be. 
Whoever came up with these recipes could make a fortune these days, because even the Colonel wouldn't come close in a 
contest with Catfish King.
san antonio Tx.

Hello Fred,

Part of the confusion about Catfish King comes from the fact that there have been two restaurant chains called “Catfish King”, and possibly even more restaurants with that name. The Alabama "Catfish King” never had more than four stores, and it appears to have only lasted about a decade, with the first restaurant opening in 1959. Since those stores were relatively close together, you may be correct that their fritters were hand-made. Large chains with stores spread over bigger geographic areas usually have many of their products made at a central location in order to maintain consistency across their many stores.

The four Alabama stores were (See: BhamWiki):
3103 26th Street North, North Birmingham
1819 Avenue E, Ensley (former Franklin Theatre building)
5601 1st Avenue North, Woodlawn
1300 3rd Avenue North, Downtown

There are some photos here: Birmingham Rewound

However, there was another “Catfish King”, variously known as “David Beard’s Catfish King” or just “Catfish King”. This chain was based in Texas, and it started up in the late 60s, just about the time that the Alabama restaurant was going out of sight. See: David Beard's restaurants

Information about the Alabama “Catfish King” is very sparse. There was a “Catfish King” on West Main Street in my former hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi in about 1995. However, it did not do well, only lasting about a year. It must have been a franchise of the Texas restaurant, because the Alabama one had been gone for decades by then.


 -----Original Message----- 
From: Rita 
 Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2014 9:38 PM
 Subject: Catfish King. Apple Fritter
In regards to the apple fritter that was served at Catfish King Ave. E Ensley, Al.
was fresh made daily. This was not a chain. The owner had 2 locations. His last name 
was King. I worked there in 1973. The Apple Fritter was a cake batter with small 
chopped  green apples. They dropped the batter into hot oil, it formed a ball the size 
of a Captain Ds hush puppy. Then was tossed in a large brown paper bag filled with 
confections sugar. The original recipe made over 100.
I hope this helps.

Hi Rita,

Thanks for writing. Do you know the recipe for the cake batter? Or if it was a mix, what brand?


No it was from scratch. One has to remember 40+ yrs ago mixes in that large of a quantity 
were not available, and the ones that were, were not priced for the profit margin Mr King 
set forth. Even back in the day, I know there were days he did not make a profit. 90% of 
the customers were obese. I'm old school, I would think that receipt could be duplicated 
with a simple yellow cake batter, as the key ingredient was green apples and very hot oil.  
I will play around with it next week and see if I can produce a small 3-4 dozen recipe. 
1.92 per day was my pay, Sundays our busiest day 12 hrs lol.

From: "fred" 
Subject: Catfish King, Rita, and you
Date: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 8:19 PM

Hello Hello! 
I just wanted to thank Rita for taking the time to share just a bit of insight into what really was Catfish King. 
Just finding out the owners name really was Mr. King is more than I've ever come across.What I'd love for Rita to 
share is how anyone on this planet could get a crust on chicken the way they did it. I suspect, like the apple 
fritters, there was a tossing and retossing in bags or whatnot. 
Like Rita confirmed, I knew there was only 1 location after the Ensley location became so popular. (4th ave south) 
He may  have started out at a prior location, but the Ensley location is where they became famous. I know for a fact 
it remained open into the 70s, also as Rita confirms. We talk about the fritters and chicken and catfish, yet the salads, 
with their house dressing, were just as highly anticipated. 
Hopefully, more people like Rita will come forth, like kids of past employees that were treated to some good old 
southern style catfish and chicken and fritters made by their moms. 
fred San Antonio, Tx.

Photo of Catfish King Restaurant

Kmart Apple Dumplings

From: Karen 
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2012 2:45 PM
Subject: Recipes Search
I am looking for a couple of different recipes that I haven’t found any clue as how to make:

Kmart’s Deli in the 1990’s had an “Apple Dumpling” with a creamy sauce that was delicious.

If you know of anything or anyone having a clue as to how to prepare the recipes I would be greatly appreciative.

Thank you,


Hello Karen,

There are around a dozen requests for this recipe on message boards around the Internet. No one has the actual recipe. These may have been a pre-made, frozen product that was made by a vendor.

Before Kmart was Kmart, it was Kresge’s, a “dime store” that was very similar to Woolworth’s. Woolworth’s lunch counters also had an apple dumpling that I’m told was very similar to Kresge’s. I have recipes similar to the Woolworth recipe here:

Woolworth's Apple Dumplings

For other apple dumpling recipes that have been proffered as being similar to the Kmart product, see these sites:

Recipelink 1

apple pie crisp dumplings

taste of home

Recipelink 2


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