Gary Geniesse Writing

Return to Main Menu Return to Writing Menu

Comparing and Contrasting
Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls with
C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia

An essay written for my freshman English class
as an exercise to compare and contrast two things.

The Chronicles Of Narnia is considered to be one of the most significant fantasy literature works of our time. Little Debbie Swiss Cakes Rolls, on the other hand, fall into the less glamorous realm of being classified as the typical snack cake. At first glance, the two appear to have absolutely nothing in common. However, delving further into the intentions of the creators of both items (and, perhaps, the right amount of controlled substances) alarming similarities begin to appear between them.

Written by C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles Of Narnia is a series of seven books centering on the adventures of a small group of children. In the first book, the youngest child wanders too far into an old wardrobe and happens upon a world caught in perpetual winter, called Narnia. The later books tell of both her and her friends' adventures in this strange land where animals have the ability to speak. Although this series has been judged as being light children's reading by many, a large number of references to the teachings of the Bible can be seen beneath its fairy tale atmosphere. An analysis of this would take volumes to cover thoroughly; therefore, suffice it to say that it is plain that C.S. Lewis's aim was to provide religious teachings in a form acceptable to young people.

How does this masterpiece of literature compare to the snack cake? A skeptical superficial glance would suggest that both are merely sickeningly sweet. Since the books have been written off as childish fluff and the main ingredient of the cakes is sugar, one could support this opinion. However, many more similarities do exist.

Beginning from the outside, the Swiss Cake Rolls are packaged in boxes of twelve, within which, the cakes are wrapped in six pairs. Images of twelve disciples, a strong biblical reference, immediately spring to mind. Another striking resemblance to the Chronicles is the fact that each box has a net weight of 13 ounces. Subtracting the number of packages from this weight yields the number seven, the exact number of books in the series! (On an interesting side note, this manner of packaging is reminiscent of J.R.R. Tolkien's famous fantasy trilogy, The Lord Of The Rings, in that each book of the trilogy contains two smaller books. However, almost another entire essay could be written on the similarities between Swiss Cake Rolls and this masterwork of literature).

The Swiss Cake Roll itself is a cylindrically shaped chocolate cake covered with a layer of chocolate and filled with a spiral band of cream. It is upon this structure that a majority of the similarities to the Narnia books exist. Most apparent is the thick, dark, outer material surrounding the much lighter, fluffier inner substance. This corresponds directly to the solid reality of the dark house and wardrobe surrounding the unstable realities of an entirely different world. It should also be noted that Narnia, when it was first entered by the children, was in the depths of a perpetual winter and covered with snow, the very color of the cream center.

The fact that this is not a solid layer of cream and, rather, a design which is interrupted by the dark, outer layer could be compared to either of two ideas. A definite similarity can be drawn with the entering of people from this dark, outer world to the light inner one. However, a more general view suggests that the cake was designed in this way to show that an evil blackness inhabits even the purest of good things. This may be compared directly to the evil witch who was controlling Narnia at the time of its endless winter.

Viewing the cake design in this way, it can be seen why this snack can give us more insight than others. A similar snack food to the Swiss Cake Roll is the Oreo cookie, which shares the same color scheme (dark layers surrounding a light cream center). However, no comparisons can be drawn between this cookie and books since it both lacks the spiral shape and it is eaten from the middle outward, a technique that does not work well in reading fantasy literature.

Finally, the law of diminishing utility declares that the more of something you have, the less you will enjoy each successive part. The same is true of the Swiss Cake Roll. The first bite is always the best, with each bite thereafter adding less new taste and merely more cakey goo in one's mouth. This may be compared to Narnia, which is a flat world. The ocean at the edges of the world grows shallower and shallower as one approaches the edge until it is no more than a few inches deep. The similarity between these two decreasing qualities is awe-inspiring.

In conclusion, I must recommend that you do not eat ANY of the seven books in The Chronicles Of Narnia. Although many agree that the outside of a Swiss Cake Roll tastes much like the cover of a book, the white paper used to print the actual pages of the book simply is not a good substitute for the taste of the fake cream filling of the snack cake.

By the same token, I urge you even more strongly not to read the box that the Swiss Cake Rolls come in. Among the ingredients listed are "polysorbate 60 and vegetable mono". While the polysorbate 60 may be similar in nutrition to an Alba '77, I dare not speculate on the properties of "vegetable mono". However, this ingredient brings to light one final comparison in that no meat is contained in a Swiss Cake Roll, only vegetable and chemical products. It is easy to see that in a world such as Narnia, where animals can talk, such a product would be welcomed, since all of its occupants are quite necessarily vegetarians.

©1985 James (Gary) Geniesse

Return to Main Menu Return to Writing Menu

This page last changed on April 27, 2004.
Copyright ©2004, James (Gary) Geniesse