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What kind of filling is in a devil dog?

The devil dog is a classic American snack cake that has been popular since the early 20th century. With its devilish name and cute smiling mascot, the devil dog captures the imagination of kids and adults alike. But what exactly is the tasty filling inside the devil dog? Let’s take a closer look at this iconic treat!

The History of the Devil Dog

The origins of the devil dog trace back to the Ward Baking Company, which first produced the snack cake in 1926. They were originally called demon dogs, but the name was changed to devil dogs to be less offensive. The nickname “devil dog” was already commonly used for U.S. Marines at the time, so the treat took on this moniker.

The devil dog was an instant hit, both for its memorable appearance and taste. The packaging featured a friendly devil character wearing a chef’s hat, which became a recognizable mascot for the brand. Under new ownership, the Continental Baking Company continued to produce devil dogs through the rest of the 20th century, as they joined beloved treats like Twinkies and Wonder Bread.

The spongy chocolate cake outside and creamy filling inside made the devil dog a staple snack for generations of kids. Affordable and delicious, the devil dog was a lunchbox and after-school treat for decades. Even as trends changed, each bite of the devil dog brought back fond childhood memories.

The Devil Dog’s Filling

So what is that distinctive filling sandwiched between the chocolate devil dog cakes? For many years, the exact filling was kept secret and only described as a “creamy filling.” However, today it is known that the filling of a devil dog consists primarily of shortening or vegetable oil along with sugar and a few other minor ingredients.

Shortening gives the filling its distinctive creamy texture that is smooth on the tongue. The most common shortening used in devil dog filling and many other baked goods is partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Vegetable oil like soybean or cottonseed oil is hydrogenated, meaning extra hydrogen atoms are added to turn the liquid oil into a solid fat.

Partially hydrogenating the oil leaves some unsaturated fatty acids instead of making the oil completely saturated. This creates a solid but somewhat soft semi-solid vegetable shortening. In addition to texture, shortening provides a neutral flavor base for the sweet filling.

Here is an approximate breakdown of the ingredients used in traditional devil dog filling:

Ingredient Amount
Partially hydrogenated soybean oil (shortening) 50%
Sugar 40%
Corn syrup 5%
Dextrose 2%
Salt 0.5%
Natural and artificial flavors 2.5%

As this breakdown shows, shortening is clearly the main ingredient used to give devil dog filling its creamy, fatty texture and body. Sugar is also added at a high level to provide sweetness to balance the chocolate cake.

A small amount of corn syrup gives the filling a smooth, gluey texture and helps retain moisture. Natural and artificial flavors like vanilla extract or compounds round out the filling’s taste. While the exact recipe and ratios may vary between bakeries, the core ingredients of shortening, sugar, and flavorings are always present.

The Filling’s Texture and Taste

When you bite into a devil dog, the first sensation is the crunchy chocolate cake shells giving way to the soft, creamy filling inside. Smooth and dense, the filling has a texture reminiscent of very thick frosting. It has a melt-in-your-mouth quality without being too greasy.

The sugar and shortening create a sweet flavor and fatty mouthfeel that perfectly complements the chocolate cake. Artificial flavors like vanilla are sometimes detectable but overall the filling is designed to let the chocolate flavor take center stage. There is also a toasted, almost caramel-like taste from the corn syrup.

Due to the high sugar and shortening content, the filling does have a rich, decadent taste. However, the small size of each devil dog prevents it from being too overpowering. The filling strikes the right balance of being indulgent but not excessively sweet.

Changes to the Filling Over Time

While the original devil dog filling contained trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils, health concerns over trans fats led to changes in recent years. Since 2006, the FDA has required trans fats to be listed on nutrition labels due to associations with increased heart disease risk.

In response to these concerns, many food manufacturers including devil dog producers eliminated partially hydrogenated oils from their recipes. Modern devil dog fillings now substitute palm oil-based or interesterified shortening to achieve the same texture and mouthfeel.

These alternative forms of vegetable shortening do not contain trans fats, but they are high in saturated fats. The overall nutritional value and calorie count remains largely the same. Consumers mainly notice an updated ingredients label with “zero grams trans fat per serving.”

Copycat Devil Dog Filling Recipes

For devil dog aficionados who want to recreate the filling at home, a few copycat recipes provide good approximations. Most are based on an oil or shortening base with powdered sugar added for sweetness and texture.

For example, this simple 2-ingredient filling recipe only requires vegetable shortening and powdered sugar:

Ingredient Amount
Powdered sugar 2 cups
Vegetable shortening 1 cup

Cream together the powdered sugar and shortening until a smooth, creamy texture forms. For more authentic flavor, also add in:

Ingredient Amount
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Salt 1/4 tsp

This creates a very close approximation of devil dog filling to enjoy. You can always tweak recipes to adjust sweetness and texture to match your tastes.

Trying Your Own Devil Dogs

The devil dog remains a classic all-American snack cake that kids of all ages can enjoy. With its distinct chocolate cake and creamy filling, part of the fun is not knowing the mysterious ingredients hidden inside.

Now that trade secrets have been revealed, you can try your hand at making homemade devil dog filling. Whip up a batch to put between chocolate cakes or eat by the spoonful if you dare!


In conclusion, the smooth, creamy filling inside devil dogs is made primarily from vegetable shortening like partially hydrogenated soybean oil along with sugar. This gives the filling a rich, fatty texture that perfectly complements the chocolate cake exterior. While adjustments have been made over the years, such as removing trans fats, the core ingredients remain the same. With a few simple ingredients on hand, even amateur bakers can whip up homemade devil dog filling for a nostalgic treat.