Reader Ron S. sent in word that Hostess has spooked up their various cakes for the Halloween season, so tonight, we ran out for a quick deli-hopping hunt for creme filled death. Believe it or not, the "cleaner" delis were completely sold out. As much as I'd like to think that the companies do these promotions sheerly for the fun factor, I'm just kidding myself -- people who don't usually "do" Devil Dogs might be more inclined if a cartoon Frankenstein is on the box, so I guess it just comes down to the haunted Halloween dollar. Don't get upset about it, the end result is the same: we finally have orange-dyed Hostess Sno Balls.

Despite me being a webmaster and a big advocate of patterning my lifestyle after garden slugs, I don't eat this crap. If I'm going to eat junk food, I'd at least like it to be something with a little quantity to it. Hard to justify the terrible nutritional no-nos in Ho-Hos when they only take five seconds to scarf down and five hours to recover from. With a bag of chips, at least you're so bloated from salt when finished that you wouldn't really entertain the idea of moving around afterwards anyway. My point is, I've got all of these Hostess cakes and absolutely nothing to do with them. It's times like these that I so miss Pa's old skeet shooter rifle. He named it "Mah Gun."

Some of the cakes and sweets only have a surface upgrade -- the food remains the same, but the packaging gets a tacked-on black cat caricature or something like that. The best ones, of course, rewrite the formula to turn the cakes themselves into devout creatures of darkness. In today's countdown entry, we'll see the best and the worst of Hostess' Halloween promotions. You shouldn't be too surprised about that. I mean, it's not as if this read like an intro to my list of favorite colors. I'd be able to go to sleep much quicker if it was, now that I think of it. Mind if we switch gears?

Red's never wronged me, but I dunno -- I always find myself buying things more in the blue and green shades. Yellow's a bit of a dark horse candidate; a color I don't like to admit fondness for, but one I've enjoyed in secret for as long as I can remember. I've often found myself drinking lots of artificially enhanced liquids just to achieve a perfect yellow piss, but it's not like I'd ever tell this to someone I know in real life. They just wouldn't understand -- partly because anything scatological is criminally taboo, but mostly because everyone loves red the most. All this talk about colors and urine has made me hungry. Let's get back to the cakes. Sorry for the lapse.

"Hostess Scary Cakes," with "S'CREAM filling," are a retooled version of their famous cupcakes with the twirly swirly white things running over the chocolate tops. The innards are unchanged, but now there's orange icing with dark sprinkles. It's certainly "Halloweeny" enough, and even the packaging got a great makeover with this zombie-like green font detailing the cakes' fright factor. I think they would've benefited by dyeing the familiar white creme green, but I'm not gonna nitpick at the only people in the world who make cupcakes that appear to be covered in feasting ants.

Hostess' classic box of twelve assorted donuts has also been given the treatment, though not to the same level as the antcakes. The donuts remain the same -- you get four frosted, four cinnamon frosted, and four of those plain pieces of shit that totally negate the point of eating donuts. Hey, I'm not trying to offend you plain-eaters, but it's not like the extra gram of fat is gonna make much of a difference when there's still 460 more to worry about. Is it possible that some just prefer plain over frosted? Sure, it's possible. Doesn't make it right, though. Stop it. As the old saying goes: "If it ain't powdered, take a powder." It's really an old saying, I swear.

The donuts are the same, but the box now has a Halloween color scheme with Frankenstein, the Mummy, and some weird scarecrow guy hanging out in the upper left corner. Why the scarecrow got the nod over such luminaries as Dracula and the Wolfman, I cannot tell you. Maybe one of those secret marketing strategy books has a chapter about which holiday characters inspire the most hunger. To tell you the truth, I would rather eat a scarecrow than Dracula. It wouldn't give me as great of a story to tell people, but at least I'd only be eating hay. There's definitely parts of Dracula I'd rather avoid chewing on. Getting back to the donuts: I was kind of upset that they weren't at all updated to fit with the holiday, so I worked off the angst with this haiku:

Cakes not spookified?
This is so run of the mill.
My name is sadness.

Finally, Hostess' "Sno Balls" get the royal Halloween treatment. "Glo Balls" don't really glow, but come on, it's still a cooler name. The box is appropriately ominous, though slightly misleading as I half-expected the cakes to pop out of the box with the same luminescence as that shit Shredder turned Hamato into Splinter with. I've never actually seen the regular Sno Balls sold in anything other than those counter-side two-packs, so maybe these larger quantity boxed sets are meant to handle Hostess' predicted sales spike for limited edition orange Sno Balls. The package features another scarecrow guy, this time pumpkin-headed, strolling amidst a sea of bats and chocolate. Just thought you should be aware.

Ha, "Glo Balls." Wonder if the exec who coined that one retired; there's nowhere to go but down after that. See he changed "Sno" to "Glo," and then this whole massive...ah forget it.

Hostess has plenty of different little cakes available, and if you check out their history, the amount of discontinued sweets will astound you. They'll all pretty much the same creme-filled treats, just with slight changes to make them marketable as separate entities. The only one that ever struck me as being truly unique was the almighty and unearthly Sno Ball -- a naked, creme-filled cupcake topped by a squishy, stretchy marshmallow skin covered in coconut flakes. As tasty as they might be in their entirety, I could never get past the idea that it's much more fun to disassemble Hostess' Sno Balls than it is to eat 'em. Even though it's perfectly easy to remove the marshmallow skin from the cupcake without much breakage, anyone who does it always feels so incredibly accomplished. It's kind of like solving those "Jumble" puzzles in the newspaper, only better since you can't eat the Jumble when you're finished. Paired with a hot new Halloween theme, we've got one serious supercake on our hands.

Halloween isn't one of those holidays usually marked by a huge family dinner, gift swaps, or much else that'll end up in the photo albums of anyone too old to go trick-or-treating. It's all about the little things -- the dying leaves, the bins of pumpkins outside of supermarkets, the endless rerunning of Friday the 13th movies on get the drift. The fact that Hostess dyed a bunch of their slimy shit orange might not seem like a big deal, but it's one of those little things that help make up the giant, murderous cornucopia that is the Halloween season. Whether they did it for the love of money or the love of Satan, I'm still appreciative. Mostly because that marshmallow skin on the Glo Balls is so fun to play with. I love that skin!