2012.11.28 Demise of Hostess calls back pastry memories

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

I’m getting quite a bit of entertainment out of those who view the apparent closing of the Hostess company as some sort of tragedy. It certainly is for those who will lose their jobs, but the great rush to stock up on products, either for personal consumption or as a short term business, seems not worth the effort.

I found more than 40,000 auctions on eBay last Tuesday for various Hostess items, in quantities from a single twin pack up to 10 boxes or more in a single auction. Need to satisfy your Twinkie addiction? It was never one of my favorite items, but hey, suit yourself. Have a hankering for a Ding Dong or Ring Ding?  They’re exactly the same product—the name depends on your location for some reason. I’m not sure why Hostess did this.

Among a multitude of Hostess CupCakes and HoHos available online were a large selection of variously flavored Zingers, formerly a Dolly Madison product that has been manufactured by Hostess for some time.

 A favorite of one of my relatives in Texas (my niece Shannon), hopefully the popular Zingers will find yet another corporate home and resume production. If so, they’ll become sort of the snack cake equivalent of the Jeep, which has gone through many owners since production began back in the 1940s. At least that’s a better fate than that of Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer.

As has been said many times in news reports, if Hostess closes, their trade names, recipes and other assets will be sold to other companies, meaning the products may soon be back on store shelves, just not with the Hostess corporate name, although that could be sold to someone in a bankruptcy auction as well. Many of those former Hostess workers might find employment with the new owners of the Hostess assets.

So unless you have a serious addiction to a specific Hostess product and have to have one right now (or as soon as an eBay seller can ship it to you), just wait a while and they should be back in stores. To all those on eBay trying to take advantage of the situation, the expiration dates on your snacks are fast approaching. Better sell them now, if you can.

I have to admit I haven’t bought any Hostess products in quite awhile, but went looking for a SuzyQ or a Sno Ball, my two all-time favorites, after news of the impending closing became public. I was shocked at the prices of twin packs, which were about the same as an entire box of Little Debbies snack cakes, which contain 10 or 12 cakes. No wonder Hostess was having financial problems. Who’d want to pay those prices on a regular basis?

For those wanting a piece a nostalgia, I have an old—wait, let’s call it “vintage”—package of Hostess CupCakes, orange in flavor, that were discovered in the apartment above the Observer a year or so ago. The expiration date says “Aug 3,” no year provided.

We presume they belonged to former reporter Jeff Pickell, the last resident of the apartment. The package has a copyright date of 2005 on it and Jeff left us during 2007, leaving me with the conclusion that the tasty orange cakes are between five and seven years old. Anyone care to see if the potassium sorbate, included in the ingredients “to retain freshness” managed to maintain the CupCakes freshness that long?

But when we’re talking about really old baked goods, the CupCakes are mere babies compared to the Miracle Box of Donuts which has been hanging out at the Observer since pre-Y2K days. Purchased in December of 1999, most of the dozen donuts escaped immediate consumption and will be here to witness their 13th birthday next month.

Yes, we will have a bunch of teenage donuts on our hands. Although they look much the same as when new, it appears that all traces of moisture in them are long gone, leaving them almost weightless. I’m amazed that they have lasted this long without molding.

 I suppose I should think about throwing them a party in honor of their upcoming milestone (how many donuts make it to age 13?), or at least buying them some sort of gift. I’m not really sure what to buy teenage donuts. Maybe I should get all of them a cell phone.

 I can almost imagine what their first text message would be. Probably something along the lines of “Hey! It’s been thirteen years! How about letting us out of this box?”

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