From Family Guy to Wall-E, Hostess has made its mark in movies and pop culture as being a sugary favorite that never seems to disappear. Whether you’re watching TV or just strolling through the grocery store, you’re bound to see a Twinkie or a Cupcake in some way or another, which may lead you to wonder if there are any secrets behind this popular brand. Grab something sweet for this list of the Top 10 Untold Truths of Hostess Snacks!
10. The Secret Behind the Squiggle
Ever wondered why there’s a white squiggle of icing across each and every Hostess Cupcake? The change actually came along in 1950, when Hostess exec Doc Rice decided to add a creamy filling to their chocolate cakes. Hostess Cupcakes had existed for 31 years prior to this decision as simple chocolate cakes with chocolate icing, but Rice wanted to make them taste even better by adding a filling to the inside that would contrast with the rich chocolate flavor. Alongside this addition, he also decided to add a flourish of icing along the top, with seven “squiggles” adorning each and every Hostess Cupcake. Cupcakes may taste a lot different than Twinkies or Sno Balls, but the cream filling added into Cupcakes is the same filling that Hostess uses for these other creamy treats! Though it’s likely that the number of squiggles wasn’t significant during production, it’s funny to think about how they were added in 1950 – seventy years ago as of 2020. This year only, each squiggle will represent a decade of the Hostess Cupcakes becoming the cream-filled, chocolatey champions we know and love today. Maybe it’s a sign that you should pick up a box of these sweet, classic treats on your next grocery store trip!
9. Twinkies Were Originally Banana Flavored
Twinkies might be known for their puffy, spongy outside and creamy vanilla insides, but these sweet treats were originally intended to taste like bananas instead! In 1930, the man credited with inventing Twinkies, James Alexander Dewar, was working for a company that would later become Hostess Brands and came up with the idea to inject banana-flavored filling into the bakery’s strawberry shortcake molds, seeing as strawberries were out of season at the time and the molds were sitting unused. The Twinkies were sold as banana-flavored treats until World War II, which caused a banana shortage and subsequently forced Dewar to fill these treats with vanilla-flavored cream as an alternative. Although a banana-flavored snack cake is a unique idea, we’re not sure if they’d sell as well in the present day as their vanilla-flavored counterparts; it can be hard to make banana taste authentic in mass-produced foods, which leads to polarized public opinion on the flavor. Despite the switch, Hostess seems to like to acknowledge the banana-flavored roots of their famous Twinkies, with special banana-flavored variants still being widely available in department stores everywhere. They’ve also come out with alternative flavors for other favorites, with peanut butter Ho-Hos and white fudge Ding-Dongs being two of the new additions.
8. There’s a Guinness World Record for Twinkies
If you thought eating an entire box of Twinkies in one sitting was impressive, prepare to be outmatched! As of right now, the Guinness World Record for Most Twinkies Consumed in One Minute is held by Japanese competitive eater Takeru Kobayashi, who ate fourteen of the snack cakes in sixty seconds. He completed this feat on the Wendy Williams show in 2012 in front of a live studio audience. If fourteen Twinkies doesn’t sound like a lot in terms of competitive eating, it’s because Kobayashi had to follow the strict guidelines set in place by Guinness World Records. He had to eat one Twinkie at a time and show a judge his empty mouth in between each Twinkie. Considering these strict regulations, it’s impressive how Kobayashi managed to eat fourteen Twinkies in just one minute. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that he’s famous in Japan for his impressive feats in the realm of competitive eating. However, there are amateurs on YouTube who have eaten more without these guidelines set in place, if you’re interested in falling down the popular internet rabbit hole of watching people eat. If you’re someone who likes to live vicariously through other people, you’ll find more than enough Hostess mukbangs online to watch that may satisfy your sweet tooth without ingesting all the extra calories!
7. They’ve Caused Some Sugary Scandals
We all know Hostess cakes are tasty treats that many people would go out of their way to get their hands on, but this scandal managed to take it a bit too far. In 1986, a Minneapolis city council candidate named George L. Belair was accused of bribing people to vote by serving them Twinkies, Ho-Hos, and other Hostess desserts. This was considered a dirty trick by the Fair Campaign Practices Act, which ended with Belair actually getting arrested for his little scheme. He was later released and plead not guilty, but we can’t help but wonder why he seemed to be conveniently passing out snack foods during his campaign to a group of eligible voters. Though Belair definitely wasn’t playing fair, it was still a pretty smart trick to use Hostess snacks – instead of more tangible bribes like cash or expensive clothes – to sway people in a certain direction. Bribing a person with food instead of money makes it harder to pinpoint whether serving them a delicious snack was a simple act of kindness or part of some sort of foul play, so it makes sense that Belair would want to use Hostess cakes as a means to get his way. Belair’s story, no matter his intentions, really leads us to ask ourselves what we would do for a soft, spongy Hostess cake – and leads us to wonder just how much influence our favorite foods have on us.
6. The Chocodile Craze
If you’re from the east coast, you may not be familiar with Chocodiles: they’re essentially a simple Twinkie that has been smothered in chocolate. Originally called the Chauncey Chocodile, Hostess stopped production of these sweet treats in their east coast factories in the early 1990s, making them available only to customers living on the other side of the country. Since they’re now being made only in select factories on the west coast, Chocodiles have been sought after by people online for years now, who claim that this chocolatey version of the Twinkie is even better than the original. Though the only difference between these and original Twinkies is the chocolate coating the outside, superfans of the Chocodile say that the extra layer locks in the moisture of the cake, making it taste soft and delicious when you bite into it. Knowing how high the demand is for Chocodiles, eBay sellers have been known to sell them online for outrageous prices, with some listings reaching up to twenty dollars for a single Chocodile cake. It makes sense to seek out the real thing, but you’re probably better off making a DIY batch of Chocodiles instead of paying an astronomical price for a single tiny snack. Seeing as it’s just a Twinkie with a chocolate coating, even a beginner would be able to easily recreate this cult classic. If you’re concerned about replicating the authenticity of the Chocodile on your own, don’t worry: there are lots of convincing ways to mimic the Chocodile with just a quick Google search.
5. Twinkies Came From The Depression
It might seem odd to think about the history of an unassuming snack cake, but the story of how Twinkies came to be is actually a pretty interesting one. Hostess was already in business in 1930, with their Cupcakes having already been sold for over a decade; however, bakery manager James Dewer wanted to expand Hostess’ selection and branch out into other snacks. With the Great Depression harming the economy, he needed to come up with a treat that would be inexpensive for Hostess to make. Eventually, Dewer came up with the genius idea to combine a vanilla sponge cake with a sweet filling, selling packages of two sponge cakes for just a nickel. Though there are a few different stories as to how Twinkies got their name, one of them cites that Dewar was on his way to a meeting when he saw an advertisement for “Twinkle Toe Shoes,” which prompted him to come up with “Twinkies” as a suitable name for his creation. Because Twinkies didn’t cost much to make, it meant that Hostess could sell them for cheap to customers who may not have had a lot of money at the time, allowing them to enjoy something sweet during a dark and uncertain time. It’s good to know that Twinkies were as good of a pick-me-up in the Depression as they are in the present day, further solidifying the idea that a good sugar fix can make you feel just a little bit better on an otherwise gloomy day.
4. Sno Ball Secret
Sno Balls have amassed a dedicated fanbase, with many saying that they’re the best in Hostess’ lineup of snack cakes. On the off-chance that you’ve never seen one of these before, a Sno Ball is a chocolate cake with creamy filling, coated with marshmallow and coconut flakes — in other words, complete sugar overload. Sno Balls came about after World War II, when rations for flour and sugar were more generous and when people were hunting down a sugar fix to celebrate the end of the war. It makes sense, considering that Sno Balls may very well be the most sugar-packed item Hostess has to offer. Although they look completely different than any snack cake on the market, Sno Balls are not as unique as they may appear: aside from the marshmallow coating and the coconut flakes, you’re essentially biting into an upside-down version of a regular Hostess Cupcake. Hostess must have used Cupcakes as the base for Sno Balls as a means to cut costs and make production a little easier, but being aware of this company secret makes the concept of Sno Balls just a little less exciting than if they were a completely unique snack on Hostess’ menu. Even though they may not be as wild and unique as everyone expected, none one can deny that we’ve all craved the sweet, coconutty joy of a Sno Ball in the midst of a rough breakup or a Netflix binge.
3. Woody Harrelson Wanted Healthy Twinkies for Zombieland
If you remember the post-apocalyptic comedy Zombieland, you’ll know that Woody Harrelson’s character had a weakness for Twinkies. To most people who love to snack on junk food, eating a ton of Twinkies on screen and getting paid to do so sounds like a dream come true; however, Woody Harrelson wasn’t excited to eat these famous snacks for the camera. Why? Harrelson doesn’t eat dairy or sugar and lives as a vegetarian, so Twinkies would be infringing heavily on his strict diet. He asked instead that the crew for Zombieland make him fake Twinkies out of cornmeal to mimic the texture of Twinkies on camera. It’s completely understandable for someone not to be a huge fan of sweets, but choosing cornmeal over a sweet treat sounds like a decision few would be willing to make. Being able to resist Hostess’ flagship snack cake in favor of something much more bland must require willpower of steel, which most of us probably wouldn’t have. Although it’s sad to know that the Twinkies eaten in Zombieland were about as fake as the zombies themselves, Harrelson’s ability to resist the temptation of Hostess products is pretty admirable. He even joked after the movie’s release about a “healthy Twinkie revolution,” which we don’t think will be happening anytime soon, seeing as “health” and “Twinkies” seems to be an oxymoron.
2. True Crime With Twinkies?
Have you ever said you’d kill for a Twinkie, Sno-Ball, or other Hostess snack? Ironically enough, Twinkies have been involved as one of the main elements in a murder case. In 1979, politician Dan White used what is now widely known as the “Twinkie defense” after being accused of murdering San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk. White mentioned to the court that Milk’s murder was caused by the sugar high that came with eating too many Twinkies. You might think this sounds ridiculous, but the jury actually believed this excuse and ended up convicting White of voluntary manslaughter instead of murder, and was only sentenced to seven years behind bars. This lenient sentence sparked outrage among San Francisco’s gay community, who supported Milk as both a politician and a gay man. Seeing as White was also said to be opposed to same-sex marriage, it makes sense for the community to be angry about his charges being reduced. Though Milk’s murder was a tragedy, it’s still incredible to think that his killer used something as seemingly innocent as Twinkies to defend himself in court, making it one of the most fascinating and infamous cases of the 20th century. Seeing as the “Twinkie defense” was definitely not the best way to advertise these snacks, we can’t help but wonder how the people working at Hostess were feeling when all of this was happening!
1. Hostess Went Bankrupt
It may seem unbelievable that a company known for making irresistible snacks has gone through a lot of financial hardship, but Hostess has seen its fair share of rough times during its time as an established baking company. Many speculate that Hostess filed for bankruptcy multiple times due to their lack of conformity to new health trends, and for failing to adapt their recipes and production processes to fit a changing market. Hostess’ cakes are highly processed, which doesn’t bode well with younger people who are trying to eat cleaner and healthier foods. A large amount of debt in 2012 led to Hostess executives cutting employees wages to save money, which angered many, seeing as factory workers weren’t paid very much in the first place. Along with union strikes that attempted to protect workers from exploitation, Hostess items were taken off the shelves for a total of seven months. However, they ended up getting bought out for $400 million, and the new direction managed to put Hostess cakes back in grocery stores. The executives of the new-and-improved Hostess claimed that they bought the company knowing it had a rich history, and seeing it disappear forever would be upsetting to both loyal customers and staff. In recent years, it seems things have turned around for Hostess: sales are up, with Hostess raking in a net revenue of nearly $800 million in 2017.