Hostess With the Mostest (Calories)

The folks who make Hostess Twinkies and Wonder Bread have been in financial trouble for some time…since about when I stopped buying their products.

They've announced they're shutting down operations and "liquidating" their company, which means some other firm will acquire their brand names and recipes and will see if they can do a better job of selling that stuff than the current management. I am not claiming sole responsibility for their demise; just suggesting a lot of people gave up on them for the same reason I did. Wonder Bread just came to feel to me like the brand of idiots. I'm not sure if the other loaves on my grocers' shelf were that much better but due to some combination of its texture, reputation and the absence of the words "whole grain," I just came to feel ashamed to have it in my cart.

By the time they did offer a "whole grain white," it felt insincere on their part. Forgive the analogy but they felt like a few Republicans who are out there now making grudging, transparent attempts to court the Latino vote. Maybe the new owners of the franchise can rehabilate the image of what were once valuable trademarks. I'm going to guess they can compete better in the cupcake ends of things than the bread department. We're more tolerant of products that seem to mock the concept of Good Nutrition if they're of the dessert, Guilty Pleasure variety.

There was a time when I was hooked on Hostess Orange Cupcakes. Today, I don't eat anything with that much sugar in it and the last few years when I did, I shied away from Hostess. If you were going to ingest that quantity of calories, I decided, there were better things to spend it on. At one point when they came out with "100 calorie" packs of their Twinkies and cupcakes, I went back and tried them but the experiment caused me to swear off their products for good. The size of a Twinkie that got the calories down to that acceptable number was so small as to be unsatisfying and it made me more acutely aware of how many were in the full-sized version.

Still, I remember devouring a lot of the full-sized orange cupcakes back when I didn't care about matters of the waistline. I was actually something of a connoisseur. When I travelled and spotted Hostess Orange Cupcakes in a city far from my own, I'd always try a package just to compare. The product was pretty consistent but I do recall that the ones I sampled in Reno, Nevada were a wee bit more flavorful and the ones in Chicago had neater swirls on top.

The Orange Cupcakes were my favorite of the Hostess line, followed closely by the Chocolate Cupcakes and then the Twinkie. I never got much into their other offerings. Even as a kid, Ding Dongs were too sweet and insubstantial for me.

This is not a farewell to those foodstuffs as I'm sure they'll be around, baked by someone…and perhaps it will warm my heart to see them on the shelves. I'll feel comforted that (a) a souvenir of my childhood is still around and (b) that I have the good sense not to eat that stuff anymore. For now though, if I were the current management, I'd really be embarrassed. If you can't make money offering something that unhealthy to the American buying public, there's something really wrong with you.