RIP Hostess

Twinkies, Ho Hos, and Other Memorable Snacks From Hostess (PHOTOS)

Forget the Twinkies! The end of Hostess means the extinction of more delectable treats. By Kevin Fallon.

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Ho no. Venerable confectionary juggernaut Hostess Brands Inc. announced Friday that it is seeking permission to go out of business, effectively ruining the weekend of anyone truly passionate about snacks. The Web quickly plastered panic-stricken headlines on the news: “No More Twinkies?” “Twinkies in Peril!!” “Spare the Twinkie, Hostess!” But where are the mournful obituaries for the cupboard of other treats that could go by the wayside if Hostess shuts its doors? Here, an homage to SnoBalls, Ho Hos, and other beloved Hostess items being egregiously upstaged by the Twinkie.

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Wonder Bread

Created: 1921

 

Wonder, the company behind that ubiquitous brand of bread that can’t be eaten without somehow drying awkwardly onto your front teeth (why is that?), was bought by the company later known as Hostess Brands in 1995. But its status as a slice of Americana dates back more than 90 years, from its initial multi-colored balloons logo, to its sponsorship of the Howdy Doody show, to its very modern Wonder+ Invisibles, which disguises 18 healthy whole grains in a white-looking bread so kids can’t see. Balloons, Howdy Doody, and Trickery. America!

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Twinkies

Created: 1930

 

Hostess’s flagship item, the phallic cream-filled spongecake, is, undoubtedly, the one with the most storied history. There’s the infamous “Twinkie defense,” coined for a criminal’s claim that an overindulgence in an unusual food leads irrational behavior that should reduce culpability for a suspect’s crime. (Harvey Milk’s assassinator, Dan White, a former health-food advocate, had a psychiatrist testify in his defense that depression caused him to gorge on junk food—like Twinkies—causing erratic behavior.) Of course, there’s also the urban legend that Twinkies are so processed that they have an infinite shelf life. In Wall-E, for example, the titular robot finds one undecayed some 700 years after Earth had been ruled inhabitable for humans. Alas, the company asserts that all Twinkies should be eaten within seven to 10 days.

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Ho Hos

Created: 1967

 

Invented by a San Francisco bakery in 1967, the Ho Ho is the standard bearer chocolate-and-cream pinwheel-log treat. Yodels, Swiss Rolls—mere lunchpail ripoffs. Ho Hos also had the best, most ridiculous mascot: a Peter Pan-dressed cartoon snack named Happy Ho Ho, who appeared a series of gloriously cheesy ‘70s commercials. In 1999, Hostess launched the spinoff confection Nutty Ho Hos, and promoted the product by asking consumers to vote for the “nuttiest celebrity left.” Eddie Murphy took the crown, followed by Phyllis Diller, Roseanne Barr, and Pee-wee Herman.

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Donettes

Created: 1930s

 

Why are Hostess Donettes, the perfectly two-bite-size iced miniature donuts, the perfect snack? No one says it better than this snack enthusiast’s Web review. First there’s the clear packaging, “to show those yummy little cute Donettes through.” It’s also, apparently, impossible to improve them. “Short of sticking $100 bills in the Donette holes and delivering them via little elves to the foot of my bed in the middle of the night, this is as good as any human hands are going to get to making miniature donuts for the masses.” Plus, Donettes’ wholesome roots—Hostess began manufacturing them in 1930s as a cheap snack for families in the Great Depression, because cost should never deprive a person of a donut

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SnoBalls

Created: 1947

 

Pink snacks! Are you kidding? It’s no wonder SnoBalls, cream-filled chocolate cakes covered with marshmallow frosting and coconut flakes, became so popular. As Gizmodo brilliantly puts it, “It was one of the first snack designs to look nothing like a snack.” Hostess, however, attributes its popularity to something different: being released just after the flour and sugar rationing ended during World War 2. (But, really, it’s because they were PINK!)

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Fruit Pies

Created: Unknown

 

Twinkies may be the Hostess star, but Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn says good riddance: “Me, I’m going to miss the fruit pies.” The single-serving pastries packed the general flavor—very general flavor—of a homemade pie into a daytime snack that could be eaten at room temperature.  Their mascot, Fruit Pie the Magician, joins Happy Ho Ho in the hallowed halls of Hostess’s absurd and adorable mascots, having appeared on fruit pie labels, in ads, and in television commercials from 1973 until 2006, when he was unceremoniously dismissed.

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CupCakes

Created: 1919

 

It’s unfair, really, that Twinkie gets all the glory when Hostess’s other cream-filled sensation, the CupCake, was the actual landmark treat. First sold in 1919, it was the very first commercially produced cupcake, originally peddled at two for 5 cents. By 2011, Hostess reported that more than 600 million CupCakes were sold each year—though the price went up a bit over time. No doubt the modern surge in popularity can be attributed, at least in part, to the genius ‘90s “you get a big delight in every bite” marketing campaign, which featured a shark attacking what he thinks is a CupCake floating on the surface of an ocean, but turns out to be a woman on an inner tube. “Hey! Where’s the cream filling?”

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Raspberry Zingers

Created: Unknown

 

Why have a Twinkie when you could have a Zinger? They were just like Twinkies … but better. The Raspberry Zinger, the star of a line that included chocolate and vanilla flavors, was ostensibly a Twinkie cloaked in shaved coconut and raspberry flavored frosting. Plus, Peanuts characters starred in their commercials, which is pretty much the most ringing endorsement a product could get.