Farewell to vinyl frosting

No more Twinkies? No more HoHos? No more “dot bread?” Oh no! What is childhood without Hostess?

When I heard that the company that makes those iconic treats was going out of business, I felt an immediate sense of loss. I prepared to go into mourning as if a family member had died. Well, maybe not a family member, more like a pet. Okay, not one of our favorite dogs or cats, but like a goldfish that we’d had a really long time or at least long enough to name.

The point is, it mattered to me. And I haven’t had a Twinkie in four decades, for reasons I will explain later.

Kate Dolan wonders what's going into those Twinkies

What else can I put inside these things?

I rarely bought Hostess products (and if I’m not unique that could be why the company is out of business) but the brand was such a part of my memory that I feels like I’m losing part of my past along with the familiar red, yellow and blue dots.

My mom didn’t buy Hostess products much when I was a kid, but thanks to advertising and the bright friendly packaging and product placement they were always in my mind. The cupcakes were to my grade school self the epitome of culinary perfection. Cream filling AND frosting? How could you ask for more? There was even decorative icing on top that held its curlicue shape as if it were made of molded plastic, and who knows, maybe it was. I didn’t care. It was another decadent layer of sugary excess.

When I got older, I realized frosting wasn’t supposed to lay on a cupcake like a sheet of pressed vinyl and that chocolate cake should not just be chocolate colored but actually taste like chocolate. And Hostess cupcakes lost their charm.

Twinkies never had any for me that I could remember. That’s because my only memory of eating a Twinkie involved biting into one to find it full of blue mold. It looked really creepy and tasted like melted plastic (which may not be that far off from the taste of a non-moldy Twinkie, actually.) It’s hard to believe that Twinkies are even capable of growing mold, given the dearth of actual food ingredients in them. But it happened.

So I didn’t like Twinkies and cupcakes held no more allure. My focus turned to pie. I loved Hostess fruit pies, especially cherry. As a freshman working on stage crew in high school, if we stayed through after school until an evening performance and went to the store to pick up something for dinner, I dined on Hostess pies. Hey, they had fruit, right? And from the nutritional information I could see that the enriched flour provided at least 4% of my daily requirement of iron, so I was good to go.

In another year or two, however, the calorie count on those pies started to scare me, so I said farewell to those, too. But my relationship with Hostess was not over yet.

The next chapter was parenthood. I didn’t buy Twinkies (blue mold might stain) or cupcakes (imagine brown crumbs glued to everything with a layer of cream) or pies (I would be temped to eat them myself) but I did buy what my daughter called “dot bread.” She fell in love with the Hostess dots at an early age. Most of the time I wouldn’t buy the white Wonder Bread that she craved, but I would buy whole wheat Wonder, which had plain packaging with only a few dots. I still look for that bread first and she still likes the dots, nearly fifteen years later. And one year Santa brought her a loaf of snow white Wonderbread, which she hugged like a stuffed toy and probably enjoyed more than a child has every enjoyed bread before. Hostess brought her that joy.

I’m hoping they will sell the brand and that I will still look for Wonder Bread each week. But even if I find it, it won’t be the same. I will know it isn’t “real.” And part of me will feel sad, just like I did when we lost that goldfish, whats-his-name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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