Obit of the Day: Hostess Brands
As you have heard Hostess Bakery, maker of the most popular snack cakes in the United States, has shut down production. The company has existed, in various incarnations, for 93 years. Here are a few facts about the company’s history and products:
- Continental Baking Company, which later developed Hostess as a brand, first entered the snack cake market with their chocolate cupcake in 1919. They claimed it was the first of its kind. (Tastykake claims that it began selling mass produced cakes in 1914.)
- The cupcake did not have curly-cue icing and creamy filling until a 1950 redesign.
- 1n 1925, Continental bought Taggart Bakery which had created a madd produced, pre-sliced white bread. Wonder Bread was the first of its kind sold across the country.
- In 1934, James Dewar a Continental Bakery salesman came up with the idea of a cream-filled sponge cake. He named them Twinkies after seeing an add for Twinkle Toe Shoes in St. Louis, Missouri.
- Twinkies were originally banana cream filled but with import restrictions during World War II switched to the now-familiar vanilla cream.
- In 1947 Hostess introduced Sno Balls, cream-filled devil’s food cake, covered in marshmallow and coconut.
- Hostess began filling Sno Balls and cupcakes with cream in 1950 when the Twinkie filling machines were modified for other snack cakes.
- Ding Dongs were introduced in 1967. They were called Big Wheels and King Dons on the east coast of the U.S. so as not to confuse them with Ring Dings made by Drake’s Cakes. In 1998 Continental bought Drake’s and now the Hostess brand are Ding Dongs nationwide.
- Ho Hos were first introduced by a San Francisco bakery and began being sold nationwide in 1967.
About the cartoon characters:
In 1973 Hostess began using characters to market their snack cakes. They were: Twinkie the Kid, Captain Cupcake, King Don (or King Ding Dong), Fruit Pie the Magician, and Happy Ho Ho. (There was also a Chief Big Wheel and Claude the Choco-dile but they were not as popular.)
The characters were all created by Don Duga. All of the characters were retired, except for Twinkie the Kid. The last character to be taken off Hostess packaging was Fruit Pie the Magician.
Random historical note:
In 1978, former San Francisco city supervisor Dan White shot and killed the city’s mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk (an noted LGBT advocate). History has noted that White used the “Twinkie defense,” claiming that eating Twinkies caused him to suffer psychologically and led to his conviction on voluntary manslaughter instead of murder. However, his defense team never made this claim. A psychologist noted that White had become depressed and one indication of his depression was his change in diet from healthy foods to one of junk foods, particularly Twinkies. White’s lawyers didn’t blame Twinkies, they blamed depression which was indicated by over-consumption of Twinkies.
Sources: Save Fruit Pie the Magician!, Kitchenproject.com, Tastykake.com, Wonderbread.com, snopes.com and Wikipedia.org. I used Hostess.com and Hostesscakes.com for a brief period but they are, unsurprisingly, off line.