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HOSTESS CAKES! A Big Delight In Every Bite
Robert Berry - 11/13/00


With my father away in The Navy, our TV ended up being "Daddy" for a good chunk of my childhood. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. Usually Poppa TV was a much easier disciplinarian, and always told me that I was "The Most Important Person In The Whole Wide World." (10 points if you get that reference).

The cereal and snack commercials were always good, but there was something downright magical about the Hostess Snack Cake characters. From FRUIT PIE THE MAGICIAN (who I can't find a damn picture of to save my life!) to TWINKIE THE KID, they were there in TWINKIE-TOWN having the time of their lives!

"YOU GET A BIG DELIGHT IN EVERY BITE!" Was their claim, and it didn't let you down. From the chocolatey goodness of a HO HO, to the insane sugary bliss of SUZY Q'S (which I can only eat if I immediately drink a gallon of insulin afterward), they all kicked ass.

Hostess (who also makes the barely nutritious WONDER BREAD), has been around since the 30s. As you can see from this early DING DONG box, they used to just show you the product in a tasty way, and hoped you'd buy it.

Look at this old Twinkies ad from the 50s that suggests you should serve Twinkies as a yummy desert surrounded with strawberries. Good lord, why don't they have creative women in the kitchen like THIS anymore?

"The Perfect Energy Snack"....yeah before you could buy crack at school maybe. Nothing like giving your kid sugar and artificial flavor for lunch right after a heaping bowl of sugary cereal. Top it off with a dinner of Coca Cola and Pop Rocks, and you've got a kid so healthy, he'll have diabetes by the time he's nine years old.

But in the 70s, Hostess decided that merely touting the nutritional benefits of their snack cakes, they needed a hook. So they came up TWINKIE THE KID! A cowboy that's really a sponge cake with creamy filling (a lot like Billy Ray Cyrus).

Another great character was HAPPY HO HO. According to the official Hostess site, "Happy Ho Ho's mission in life is simple: To make people happy. At an early age, he learned the key to happiness is a Ho Ho. Happy roams Redwood Forest dispersing Ho Hos and happiness to all he encounters. Happy delights in the natural beauty of the Redwood Forest. He keeps it radiant by fighting forest fires and chasing litter bugs away."

I remember a great HO HO commercial from the 70s where there was a reporter and 2 kids inside of a giant HOT HO. They were exploring the luscious chocolately cavernous walls, and eventually fell into a giant whirl pool of whipped cream. At the end, HAPPY HO HO unrolled the weird HO HO like a carpet and they fell out. It was a weird time/space paradox as the HO HO they were lost in couldn't have been more than 6 feet tall. It disturbed me greatly.

Next we have KING DING DONG. I don't remember too much about this guy other than he lived on some Jungle Island. DING DONGS were great. They were like a chocolate cake hockey puck coated in chocolate again, and wrapped in FOIL!

As you can see from the picture above, there was another Hostess cake that looked just like DING DONGS called BIG WHEELS, that used some goofy INDIAN (excuse me, Native Cake) as it's mascot. The funny thing was, they were the exact same snack, made by the exact same company, just for different parts of the country. I guess on the East Coast, they had a problem with boys at school asking the girls if they'd like to put their cream filled DING DONG into their hungry mouth.

Hostess also unleashed CAPTAIN CUPCAKE to the world, too. He's pretty much an uninspired CAPTAIN CRUNCH ripoff, so we JUST WON'T SPEAK OF HIM AGAIN, OKAY!?!

There was some other great treats like CHOCODILES (a chocolate covered Twinkie that supposedly is still available in some parts of America). That character was some weird brown crocodile looking thing. The slogan for these was, "It's takes a while to have a chocodile". I wasn't sure why it took longer to eat these than TWINKIES, but after a few bites, it wasn't hard to figure out.

And FRUITPIE THE MAGICIAN liked to pull all sorts of tricks as well. Nationwide you can find Cherry, Berry, Apple, and Lemon with relative ease, but in some areas of the country you can still find Blueberry flavor, as well.

But the coolest angle to market these great snacks was by commissioning numerous comic book superheroes to plug the treats in teh pages of their own mags. The formulas were simple, but great. A criminal/monster/beast is up to no good, and is thwarted by the hero when offered a tasty Hostess snack cake to give it all up.

Who needs super powers when you've got a Fruit Pie handy?

Neal Adams, one of the premier Batman artists of the 70s, did a great one called Batman vs. The Mummy. In this strip, Batman and Robin thwart an ancient Mummy by giving him some Twinkies. If only Brendan Fraser did this right away, we wouldn't have had to watch the rest of that suck-ass movie.

Another great action packed one was THE INCREDIBLE HULK VS. THE TWINS OF EVIL. In this great episode, The Abombination and Wendigo team up and beat the holy shit out of HULK, leaving him unconscious in the forest. Only to be nursed back to health by some friendly hiking boys who have a few extra fruit pies.

Pretty much every major character starred in these things in both DC and Marvel comics. Even THE JOKER was in a few. In one of my favorites, JOKER breaks the formula by using Fruit Pies to scare off cops (if only he used donuts...HAW HAW!). At the end when he's getting hauled back off to the looney bin, he tells the cops he doesn't like them, which prompts a, "Wow, he IS Crazy!" from one of them.

If only crime could be stopped by Hostess Pies in real life. What a wonderful world it would be, indeed.

If you'd like to read more of these just CLICK HERE.

-Robert


SURPRISE BONUS FEATURE: KISS POPSICLES!

The great taste of Gene Simmons finally captured in a popsicle form! WOW! I stumbled across this picture today and couldn't believe it. From the look of the ad, it looks like it was an ICE CREAM TRUCK specialty, but it's pretty wild. "A FROZEN THUNDERBOLT OF REFRESHING FLAVOR!" Good thing they scrapped plans for the Journey Popsicle.