Thursday, December 13, 2012

Farewell, O Snack Cake Friends

When I first heard the recent news about the impending liquidation of Hostess, I suspect my reaction was pretty much the same as a lot of people who came of age in the 1980s, which was "Wow, I haven't had a Zinger in, like, 20 years, but that's an awful shame". And then my next thought was "I know that they're full of carcinogens, lack any sort of nutritional value, and have an undefined shelf life, but what kind of parent would I be if my kids went through their entire childhood deprived of the opportunity to ever try a Twinkie?", so, of course, I had to rush off that very afternoon to my local neighborhood gas station to stock up on Hostess products before the mad crush of wistful 40-somethings cleaned out the remaining inventory. Luckily, I wasn't too late - actually, the Hostess rack was full and I was the only one there (perhaps I overestimated the attraction of these dessert sins against nature). Initially shocked at the number of offerings in the Hostess repertoire (I had completely forgotten about Snoballs, Honey Buns, the fruit pies, and a few others), I stuck with a few core items and brought home a package each of Twinkies, Ding Dongs (chocolate cakes filled with cream and shaped like hockey pucks), and chocolate cupcakes (one of my personal favorites).

The progeny were initially skeptical. "What are those?" asked Hackknife Jr. "What do they taste like"? I tried to explain that they were treats that Mommy and Daddy occasionally sampled as kids, not mentioning that their consumption proved to be a gateway to a lifetime of obesity for many of our bretheren. "Well, what's in them"? "Lots of sugar and other stuff that's not particularly healthy", I said, conveniently omitting the dubious provenance of most of the additives. "How are they made"? "No one really knows, H.J. It's a closely guarded secret involving space-age technology and the miracle of modern chemistry. I don't believe there's any actual baking involved during any point of the process. If you think about it too much, you might go insane. Just try them", I said. Although the cupcakes and Ding Dongs were both a solid week past the stamped "Best by" date on them, not surprisingly, they were just as edible and tasty as I remembered, and both kids gobbled them right up. Hackknifette wasn't crazy about the Twinkie, but her brother seemed to enjoy it, as did his mom and I. A few days later, I heard that there'd been a shipment of more Twinkies released to the marketplace before production was to be halted; however, having scratched the 20-year Hostess itch and satisfied with my parenting acumen, I resisted the urge to go out and get more, deciding to let the taste memories drift off into the great synthetic sunset of nostalgia...

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