Twinkies and all the other products produced by the Hostess Company, which has been producing many compact dessert confections for decades and is the principal owner of other brands as Wonder Bread and the Drake’s line of cupcakes and snacks, is saying goodbye. The company ceased production, claimed bankruptcy, and moves to sell all its assets, various sources including CNN reported today. The company also plans to lay off over 18,000 employees.
A major pop cultural icon in the gourmet sense and junk food of the highest order, the Twinkie, which has to stand as the benchmark product offered in the Hostess oeuvre, is the 5-star standard in a quick snack. Invented in 1930 in Illinois, the cylinder-shaped golden sponge cake with cream in the middle has and continues to continued to adorn lunchboxes for children of all ages for decades and decades; it’s become the stereotypical after meal treat in those situations.
Over the years there’s been many variations of the Twinkie introduced since its inception, like those filled with chocolate and even ones that are deep fried. It has been satirized and commented on in many pop cultured settings: Woody Harrelson’s character is absolutely obsessed with the cakes in Zombieland, which strangely now portents the future in reality because in the zombacalypse comedy, Twinkies are scarce and are hard to find; classic television sitcom All in the Family made regular references to the spongy treats, as patriarch of the house Archie Bunker used to complain about the lack of one in his lunchbox as his wife Edith mistakenly forgot to put it in there, and when Sammy Davis Jr. came to visit the Bunker household, he was offered one as well. Then of course there was the “Twinkie Defense,” which was used by the defense for Dan White, the assassin of Harvey Milk and mayor of San Francisco George Moscone back in 1978, claiming that White had eaten too many of the creamy confections and thus got the sugar rush to kill the two men. And of course, there has been advertising for the products by way of TV commercials, comic book ads, both which used a company illustrated mascot known as “Twinkie the Kid” which was in essence, a Twinkie dressed as a cowboy, decked out in all the star-spangled glory accouterments that go with cowboy garb and retaining all the spunk of its namesake, the colorful true-life Western villain Billy the Kid.
The cake itself has had urban legends affixed to it of ridiculously mythical proportions as well: there was a claim for years that the shelf life of the Twinkie could last from 10 to 100 due to the chemical preservatives. This story was used as fuel for the narratives of such films as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengance, WALL-E, the aforementioned Zombieland, and Die Hard, the latter in which Bruce Willis’ character John McClane almost gets sick after he ingests a “1,000-year-old Twinkie” which laid in a floor that was under construction. In truth, spokespeople for Hostess had confirmed that while ingredients in the sponge cake do give the product a better shelf life overall than other confections of that stripe, a Twinkie has about 7 to 10 days of shelf life and can last around 25 days before it becomes, in essence, a Hostess paperweight.
While the biggest lament for sure among millions of people is for the Twinkie, there are plenty of other goodies that were mass produced by Hostess which are now also seeing the end of the line; their line of cupcakes were also extremely popular, as was their fruit pies and other various items. The Drake’s division brings to a possible end original runs of Sunny Doodles [the preferred dessert of Geeks Of Doom’s Empress Eve], Devil Dogs, Ring Dings, and their Coffee Cake.
But what it brings for sure even more than all of the aforementioned, is an end to an innocence, another door that was an entry to our past childhood is now firmly, closed ironclad shut. And for that, that seems like even more of a painful lament than the one for the companies that put smiles on millions of American faces.
So stock up on Twinkies, hoard your favorite sweet snacks made by the Hostess company, and relive those times down memory lane when you came home from school as a kid after having a really bad, screwed up day, and how your parents always seemed to make things right, by offering you a plate of Twinkies and Hostess Cupcakes.
Like the Rubik’s Cube, Hula Hoop, Platform Shoes, Davy Crockett Hats, Pac-Man, and so many other easily identifiable artifacts of the pop culture universe, The Twinkie fits right in its own well-deserved slot as another sterling success and example of good marketing, good vibes, and now, good memories.
Farewell Twinkies and Hostess-owned products, for years you set the bar and raised it and made us to accept no substitutes. And now, the least we can do, is to never forget the legend once it’s gone.