Sad Day for Snack Cakes: Hostess Files for Bankruptcy

Hostess, an 82-year-old company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this past Wednesday for the second time since 2004. Why? According to the LA Times, the cost of raw ingredients has increased and Hostess’s sales and net profit have decreased steadily these past few years — Hostess suffered a loss of about $341 million its last fiscal year, and the company already owes a debt of $994 million to the Bakery and Confectionary Union Pension fund, according to NPR.

The loss of consumer interest is likely because people want to eat things like whole grains and vegetables instead of these golden, cream-filled tubes stuck in cryogenic food eternity —  for instance, a Maine science teacher has kept a Twinkie on the top of his chalkboard for the past 30 years and it’s still looking good, aside from being “off-yellow,” according to NPR.

Nom nom nom? (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) via SFExaminer.com

I think one of the main problems at work here is how Hostess’s marketing hasn’t changed with the sustainable food movement that’s happened in recent years — even McDonald’s has begun advertising its “Field to Fork” lettuce produced in Salinas Valley, California by a guy named Dirk Gianni, and Lay’s potato chips is advertising how its ingredients come from farmers all over America, from Texas to Michigan. Note: These foods aren’t necessarily healthy or good for you — the companies are just promoting a homegrown image that fits in nicely with current sustainable food trends.

As for Hostess, the last ad campaign I remember is “Where’s the Cream Filling?” from the ’90s to the early 2000s, and good advertising ten years ago isn’t necessarily good advertising now. It could be that the company’s steady loss of money has contributed to its lack of new ad campaigns in recent years. Regardless, Hostess has still maintained its calorie-laden, guilty-pleasure image — any time you find a Twinkie, Sno Ball or Ho Ho, more often than not it’ll be in situations of cultural irony (see: Zombieland’s take on Twinkies as the post-apocalyptic snack). I’m not saying that Twinkies aren’t fattening foods, but I’d say we all have our nostalgic memories of Twinkies, and even I’ll be sad to see them go, if they do.

via en.wikipedia.org

So in the meantime, you can stock up on Twinkies for posterity’s sake (even though Hostess says it’s “Still making Twinkies” and the company “plan[s] to do so for the foreseeable future” in a recent tweet). Or you can make your own version of the Twinkie that’s likely to satisfy just as much, with this recipe taken from Simple Math Bakery. The website also includes a pumpkin and chocolate buttercream Twinkie variation for kicks, which sounds doubly delicious. All you need is a canoe pan (for making Twinkie-shaped loafs) but a muffin tin will do, too.

 

Homemade Twinkie! via simplemathbakery.com

 

Vanilla Snack Cakes (Twinkies)

Recipe from Simple Math Bakery
Yield: 24 cakes

Ingredients for Cakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons corn starch
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon Princess flavoring (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
7 eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a canoe pan or muffin tins with cooking spray and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they are very stiff. They should hold their shape when removed from the bowl. Set aside.

Combine the flour, corn starch, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together or beat on low speed for a minute, until combined. Add oil, water, Princess flavoring and egg yolks. Beat on medium speed until smooth.

Using a rubber spatula, gently scoop 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter. Fold the egg whites in by slicing the spatula through the center of the bowl, gently scooping batter from the bottom and wrapping it over the top. Turn the bowl 1/4 turn and repeat until the egg whites are barely visible. Repeat this process with each remaining 1/3 of the egg whites.

Spoon the batter into the pan, filling the wells 2/3 full. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until cakes are golden brown and just starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cakes will puff up when cooking, but will settle as they cool. Cool the cakes in the pan for 5 minutes, then gently remove them from the pan using a rubber spatula. Allow them to cool, flat side down, directly on the cooling rack.

Ingredients for Filling:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk (I used soy milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar

In a small saucepan, heat the flour and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the mixture becomes a paste (about 5 minutes), remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Stir in the vanilla extract. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming and set aside to cool completely.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cooled milk mixture and beat for about 5 minutes, until smooth and creamy.

Use the pastry filler that comes with the pan (or a pastry bag with round tip) to fill the cakes. Place the tip about halfway into the cake and squeeze gently. Holding the cake in your palm while filling it will allow you to feel when it is full. Fill each cake 3 times to ensure that each bite contains cream filling!

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Whitney is a lover of food, books, comic books and journals made for left-handed people. She is a Ph.D. student at Northwestern University, where she studies video games and new media. She is also a graphic designer, writer and editor who has worked for places like Opium Magazine, Literary Death Match, Publishers Weekly and The Feminist Press. Check out her blog at whitneypow.com and follow her on Twitter @whitneypow.

Whitney has written 51 articles for us.

28 Comments

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    I was craving a Sno Ball the other day, realizing that I hadn’t had one since roughly age 17 or so.

    I do hope Hostess manages to come back from reorganization. I just don’t have the wherewithal to make their snack treats in my own home.

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    Folks, Dan White successfully (although he ultimately committed suicide,so) got an aquittal after killing Harvey Milk in cold blood, using the infamous “twinkie defence”.
    He somehow convinced a jury of his peers that eating a lot of twinkies made him crazy.
    Many queer folk haven’t been able to abide mention of twinkies since then. Maybe not Hostess’ fault, but it still feels like karma asserting a bit of itself.

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    How the hell are they bankrupt when I know my football playing gigantic brother buys like five boxes of Twinkies every time we are at the store!!!! OH MY GOD he is going to cry!! I tried making them once and apparently “they aren’t as good as the actual Twinkies, duhhhh!” OH MY GOD this means he is going to ask my father to order 5 pallets of Twinkies!!! Gosh I can see it Twinkies all over the damn house being saved and cherished!!! lol

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      I’ve never liked Twinkies either. We Canucks like our Vachon products. Actually, Vachon distributes Hostess products in Canada. I haven’t had a Jos. Louis in years, but knowing they’re around puts me at ease.

      I doubt that Twinkies are going anywhere, though. Some other company will probably buy Hostess. Maybe? I dunno how this stuff works.

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      I used to really WANT to eat them–having a Hostess product in your lunch box gave you a certain amount of social cachet, when I was eight. My mom never bought them and my friends almost never shared. I think I had a corner of one, once, and forever after I thought of Twinkies as this Amazing Forbidden Thing that poor little me wasn’t allowed to have (which seemed odd to my young self because my parents were really laid-back about food).

      Then I got older, my tastebuds changed, and I realized that I didn’t actually like them all that much.

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    When I saw the title of the this article, I think my heart actually dropped into the depths of my bowels because I faced a very dark future without Cosmic Brownies and Zebra Cakes. Then I realized Cosmic Brownies and Zebra Cakes are Little Debbie, not Hostess. La la la sorz Hostess!!

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    Thanks for including the recipe for homemade Twinkies! I keep seeing articles about this that have pictures of Twinkies and I really want to eat them, but my painting teacher told us that the same white pigment we use for painting is used in Twinkies. eh. Now as soon as I can get my hands on some corn starch, I will make these.

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    I just realized Hostess must’ve been run by gay men. I mean, look at the product names…Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Suzy Q’s, HoHos (my fave..the chocolate and cream yumm)…..

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    Hostess’s allegedly-edible tie-in merchandise is pretty amazing sometimes. Did anyone see the promotional green Glo-Balls Hostess put out for the Green Lantern movie? I couldn’t decide whether that was better or worse than the Snoballimus Prime ones they made for Transformers.

    As for tastiness? The Hostess pies are the only good Hostess product, not the least of which because they can be endlessly parodied in fake superhero ads.

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    I always liked Hostess products as a kid, but now that I’m a little more of a label-reader, I haven’t been able to bring myself to eat them. Sorry, but “Vegetable and/or animal shortening (containing one or more of partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed or canola oil, and beef fat)” really put me off. Yeah, partially hydrogenated beef fat? No thanks.

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    I had one when I was twelve on my Big Family Trip to America. Tasted like permanent marker.

    Though the homemade recipe looks good, without the preservatives. Might make it as a surprise for my American boi :)

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