REVIEW: Hostess Limited Time Only Sea Salt Caramel Cupcakes

Hostess Limited Time Only Sea Salt Caramel Cup Cakes

Is this what Captain Cupcake died for?

For the unaware or forgetful, Captain Cupcake was just one of Hostess’ many attempts from the ’70s and ’80s to follow up on Twinkie the Kid’s popularity and anthropomorphize all of their sweet treats. A mustachioed “cap-cake,” the good captain defended his fellow cream-filled treats from all manner of cartoon peril.

But now…he’s dead. Yes, while “the Kid” lives on, Captain Cupcake has faded into obscurity, along with Happy Ho Ho, Fruit Pie the Magician, and others. And without him to protect the proud chocolate legacy of the Hostess Cupcake, the treats have met with the worst peril of all: buzzwords.

We should have seen it coming when Hostess released Strawberry Cupcakes back in 2011. But no, we shrugged it off as “just a phase.” But then came Red Velvet Cupcakes earlier this year, and suddenly we knew that the “flavor of the month” bandwagon had snatched our darling Cupcakes for good. That’s why it was no surprise to see these new Sea Salt Caramel Cupcakes hit shelves: the squiggled snack we once munched with integrity had become…one of them. We’re sorry, Captain Cupcake. We’ve failed you.

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But as Mark Twain, the inspiration for the short-lived “Hostess Twainkie,” once wrote: “don’t judge a cake by its wrapper.” (Note: none of that actually happened.) So I’ll go in unbiased. Removing the diminutive cake (are they getting smaller, or am I just getting older?) from its plastic prison, the strong scent of processed cake and caramel hits harder than an industrial salt truck. You know your grandma’s bowl of dusty Werther’s caramel candy that hasn’t been touched since Eisenhower’s presidency? These cakes smell like those did back in their glory days.

The box describes them as “caramel iced yellow cake with sea salt topping and caramel cream filling.” To examine all these new features, I split my cake like a frog in 5th-grade biology class (appetizing, no?). The first half was to be used for rigid, scientific analysis. The other…for unceremoniously stuffing in my cake-hole.

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The yellow cake is like a more dense Twinkie: sticky, sweet, and a little buttery, but plain enough to provide a neutral playing field for the cake’s other features. Eaten alone, the light mahogany icing is a bit too cloying, the slight flavor—which was more butterscotch than caramel—was marred by the overbearing punch of saccharine. The small, salty granules sprinkled throughout also carry very little taste on their own; their impact was so little that I wondered whether they were purely decorative.

Instead, it is the cream that is the hero here. Colored like normal cream that someone scribbled on with a Burnt Sienna Crayola crayon, it mixes that quintessential “Hostess cream” whipped vanilla flavor with an earthy, rich caramel one to make something unique.

But this cake really is a sum of its parts. Optimistically stuffing the other half in my mouth, what came next was nothing short of Shakespearean. With the sponge cake acting as the stage, the sweet frosting and savory saltiness (eating many grains makes the salt flavor actually noticeable) battled for supremacy, until the peacekeeping caramel creme unified them to produce a balanced snack cake experience that was complex and true to the salted caramel name.

I take back all I said before. Captain Cupcake isn’t rolling over in his grave; he’s saluting! And, oh, what’s that? I think I can hear the Captain’s voice echoing from the great beyond:

“Just…stop them…before they make…Sriracha Cupcakes.”

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cupcake – 160 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of total fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Sea Salt Caramel Cupcakes
Purchased Price: $2.96
Size: 12.7 oz. box (8 cakes)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Balanced and salty-sweet when eaten together. Inventive cream. Well-choreographed snack cake theatre. Youthful Werther’s candy.
Cons: Overbearing icing. Underwhelming granules. Perceived snack cake shrinkage. Dissection metaphors. Mourning Captain Cupcake.

26 thoughts on “REVIEW: Hostess Limited Time Only Sea Salt Caramel Cupcakes

  1. Keep them coming Wal-Mart didn”t carry enough of them when they ran out they did not restock to me that is not good advertising.I got a few hooked we have looked every where none to be found please continue to make them.

  2. Found these as they were being sold as a discontinued item in the sale bin at the local grocers. So glad I splurged! Don’t tell the Captain, but I like these better than the chocolate. I have no interest in the Red Velvet mentioned above because, almost invariably, red velvet cake comes out really dry… so I just don’t bother anymore. As far as flavor-of-the-month fads go… well, at least they haven’t figured out how to fill one with Greek yogurt! Anyway, I’ll definitely look for these to hit the shelves again, someday, and keep an eye out for other new flavors. HOWEVER… if I ever find out that they have desecrated my beloved Ding Dongs, I may have to organize a riot.

  3. Absolutely love this cake please keep making them could only find at big lots my Walmart or kroger never had them great taste

  4. Please make more of that cupcakes . The first time I put it in my mouth ,,, I fall in love with the taste of seasalt caramel cupcakes and I ate it all with in two days!!!! Will u please make more of those!!!! I’m so craving for this kind of cupcakes!!!!! Thank you very much.

  5. I absolutely love these. I was really disappointed last year when they got rid of the zinger ones last year. I am hoping they get the hint people actually like these and will keep making them. I went to the store tonight intentionally to buy some to find out they were out and the first thought was “Oh no, they stopped making them already”. Sadly I went home with none. Please keep making these.

  6. I haven’t even had the cupcake, but geesh I love this review!! Lol!! And all the other comments have me optimistic. Looking forward to it!

  7. Yes I really loved them and I have a hard time finding something to go with my coffee in the morning but I love these Sea Salt Carmel Cupcakes and I have been looking for a week or so and cant find them anywhere. Please keep making them.

  8. Where can I get the sea salt caramel, I lovvvvve them,, best I’ve ever ate, I found them at Walmart one time only !!!

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