Calling all Twinkies lovers! Tidbits has the facts on the history of the Hostess Company, manufacturer of many of our favorite treats.
• The Hostess cupcake has been around since 1919, when it was first sold by the Taggart Bakery, which was also the manufacturer of Wonder Bread. In 1925, the Continental Bakery bought out Taggart, including the rights to the little chocolate cupcakes, and became the largest commercial bakery in the U.S. Two cupcakes were sold for a nickel. It was just a plain cupcake until 1950 when the vanilla crème filling was added and a white line of seven icing squiggles was added to the top in order to distinguish it from other brands. Today, 11,000 cupcakes are baked every hour, and after cooling, the cakes are injected with the vanilla crème.
• In 1930, Jimmy Dewar, the Continental Bakery manager in River Forest, Illinois, devised the idea of an oblong crème-filled sponge cake. The question was, what should he name them? After spying a billboard advertising Twinkle Toe Shoes on his way to work, he settled on Twinkies! The little cakes, which sold as a twin-pack for five cents, were filled with banana filling. When bananas were rationed during World War II, the crème center was switched to vanilla.
• Today, at the Twinkies factory, 15,000 Twinkies are always in the oven, while 35,000 are cooling. The filling is injected through the bottoms of the cakes after cooling. Over 1,100 Twinkies are produced every minute, with 1.1 million eaten worldwide every day.
• On Twinkies’ 50th birthday, Continental Baking celebrated by creating a 10-foot-long Twinkie, a cake weighing upwards of a ton, and the equivalent of 32,300 individual Twinkies.
• Twinkies went to court in 1979 in a most unlikely way. In 1978, politician Dan White assassinated San Francisco Mayer George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk. White’s defense stated that he was severely depressed due to a dramatic change in his diet from healthy food to Twinkies and other sugary foods, which led to his unintentional killing of the men. His “sugar high” and depression defense apparently worked, with White convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than first-degree murder, with a five-year sentence.
• In 1947, Hostess debuted their Sno-Ball cakes. The inside of a Sno-Ball is just an upside-down Hostess chocolate cupcake that is covered in marshmallow and coconut flakes. The original Sno-Balls were white and had no filling. That was added in 1950, and the shredded coconut was tinted pink shortly afterward. For a time, each package contained one pink and one white Sno-Ball, but Hostess determined it was more cost-efficient to have the two the same, and the pink became the norm.
• Ding Dongs and Ho Hos were introduced in 1967. What’s the difference? Ding Dongs have a flat top and bottom, and resemble a hockey puck. The chocolate sponge cake has a creamy vanilla filling and a thin coat of chocolate covering the cake. Ho Hos are cylindrical chocolate cakes with a pinwheel design similar to a Swiss roll. In Canada, Ding Dongs are known as King Dons.
• In 1995, Interstate Bakeries purchased Continental Baking for $330 million. By 2012, Hostess had filed for bankruptcy twice and was in deep trouble. In November of that year, Hostess stopped all production. After no Twinkies or cupcakes for seven long months, investors purchased the name and brands, and everyone’s favorite cakes were back on grocers’ shelves.