Beyond the Twinkie: 5 Other Hostess Products We're Losing

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The corporate future of Hostess Brands is hanging by a mere thread, and the Internet is all a-Twitter with Twinkie talk. But there’s more than just a golden snack cake at risk here. Here are five other Hostess products that could vanish forever.

1. Wonder Bread


Taggart Baking vice president Elmer Cline was doubly inspired when he attended the International Balloon Race at the Indianapolis Speedway in 1921. His company was about to launch a new loaf of bread and it needed a name. He was filled with a sense of wonder as he saw the multi-colored balloons floating above him, and both a name and a logo were born.

In the early part of the 20th century, a disease called beriberi—along with rickets, pellagra and other afflictions caused by vitamin deficiency—afflicted millions of Americans. In 1940, the U.S. government announced a plan to enrich wheat flour with B and D vitamins, but participation by commercial bakeries was strictly voluntary. In 1941, Wonder Bread became the first national bread to sell vitamin-enriched bread (“builds strong bodies [eventually] 12 ways”) and after encouraging results other brands followed suit and beriberi was soon relegated to mentions on Gilligan’s Island.

2. Ding-Dongs


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The popular foil-wrapped cream-filled chocolate hockey pucks have been known by a variety of names over the years, prompting savvy consumers to ask: What is the difference between a Ding-Dong, a Big Wheel and a King Don? When Hostess first debuted the frosted cake in 1967 they christened it “Ding-Dong” and used a ringing bell as an audio “logo” in TV commercials. However, competitor Drake’s Cakes already had a similar product for sale on the East Coast called a Ring Ding. So, to avoid confusion, the Hostess Ding-Dong was labeled “Big Wheel” in certain markets east of the Mississippi.

Drake’s Cakes and Hostess merged for a time in the 1980s and the snacks became universally known as Ding-Dong. Alas, the harmony was short-lived, and when the two companies parted ways, Hostess chose to use the sound-alike name King Don (instead of the previous Big Wheel) to let consumers know it was the same ol’ Ding-Dong they knew and loved.

3. Fruit Pies

During the 1970s, actress Ann Blyth served as the spokeswoman for Hostess Snack Cakes. One TV commercial showed her carrying a large silver platter filled with snack cakes (including Twinkies and Ding Dongs) and fruit pies during a lavish dinner party, offering them to her “movie star” friends. In case the name Ann Blyth doesn’t ring a bell, we’ll let Designing Women's Charlene explain:

4. Sno Balls


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Those furry little mounds of sugar called Sno Balls weren’t always uniformly pink. Hostess introduced this confection in 1947, and its immediate success was attributed partly to America’s post-WWII indulgence in sugar after it was no longer rationed. (It had been a long time since consumers had tasted marshmallow!) For a while, packages of Sno Balls featured one white, as Nature intended coconut to be, and one dyed pink as a novelty. When feedback indicated that customers much preferred the pretty pink cakes, that color became standard. Today you’ll only find differently-colored Sno Balls around certain holidays—white for Winter, orange for Halloween, etc.

5. Hostess Cupcakes


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Hostess employee D.R. Rice was charged with updating the company’s cupcake to make it stand out from other similar snacks on retail display racks. He not only implemented the cream filling in 1950 (using the same injector system employed on the Twinkie assembly line), but also added the squiggle of white icing across the top of each cake. Hostess states that the “perfect” cupcake has seven loops in the squiggle—so if you ever find one with more or less loops, you might want to save it as a rare misprint. If the starting bid on a Twinkie on eBay is $8000, imagine how much cash you'd get for that cupcake!

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November 16, 2012 - 12:08pm
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