REVIEW: Hostess Bakeshop CupCake Cookies

Hostess Bakeshop CupCake Cookies

Everyone has a soulmate snack cake. The one sugary, refined, packaged, and questionably delicious baked good that, despite what logic, fortune cookies, retrogrades of mercury, physician advice, and foreboding messages written in your toast imply, you adore. From SnoBalls to Zingers, Cosmic Brownies to Donettes, we all are star-crossed and bound to one.

And, while I may have had a few flings with a Star Crunch — and maybe a Zebra Cake or two — okay, I love them all. But today my heart’s matched to the Hostess CupCake. Who can resist the oddly fudgy cake? The sugary icing floof? The chocolatey ganache with eight sugary squiggles you can gobble right off the top??

And now they come in cookie form, which, as we well know this is the equivalent of the muffin top of the pastry world, doused in fudge and oozing with icing. I’m hungry just typing that. Let’s dive in!

Hostess Bakeshop CupCake Cookies 2

Texture-wise, this cookie’s a winner. It’s more cake-like than crispity-crunchity and deftly walks the line between being both fudgy and more fluffy-wuffy than a bunny sleeping on a TempurPedic in a field of dandelions. That fluffy-wuffiness (using scientific terms today) serves the cookie well as it contrasts with the smooth, crisp coating and sugary squiggle.

And the smell only makes everything better. Right out of the package, aromas of chocolate burst out like 15,000 ponies cascading into a Roman Coliseum. It smells of sugar! And cocoa! And that bizarre nutty-coffee sweetness that comes at the end of Dove dark chocolate! (Is there a name for this? Professional Linguist turned Chocolate Connoisseur: please help!)

That said, this top-notch smell doesn’t fully carry over when it comes to flavor. In fact, the cake tastes of very little: mainly flour, but also a hint of cocoa and Maxwell instant coffee. The chocolate coating helps things out by the hair of its chinny chin-chin.

It’s sugar-forward and tastes like Hershey’s milk chocolate while the sugary squiggle tastes of sugar… and maybe a hint of marshmallow? And while I was bummed to discover there was no fluffy icing filling inside (cue the sad tubas!), the coating itself is definitely a step up from that in the typical Hostess CupCake… although I’m pretty sure you could wax a car with that stuff.

Hostess Bakeshop CupCake Cookies 3

All in all, these buggers end up tasting like those soft-baked Snackwell’s chocolate cookies: a not-so-exciting cake with a sugary, semi-chocolatey icing. While they were tasty enough, I found myself dreaming nostalgically of that fluffy white filling in a regular Hostess CupCake. Without it, the cake lacks pizazz.

If you give these a whirl, I encourage smooshing two cookies together with ice cream and/or questionably emulsified (but impossibly delicious) whipped topping to mimic the effect. Without that? These will be but mediocre, and you deserve better than mediocre, dear reader! Do not settle for bland cookies. Otherwise, there will be sadness, the ship will be down, the Titanic will be sunk, and you will be floating on a makeshift raft made out of a door as you talk nonsense to your frozen lover while Celine Dion sings over flute music in the moonlight, and no matter how long you say, “I’ll never let go,” you gotta let go.

So I’m letting go of you, Hostess CupCake Cookies. Or at least not buying you again without a Costco-sized vat of whipped topping. I may have built you up as lofty dreams in my head, but, as Celine Dion prophesized in 1998, “my heart will go on and ooooon.”

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cookie – 110 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 1 pack/10 cookies
Purchased at: Von’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Fudgy, fluffy cookie texture. Chocolatey icing. Squiggles! 15,000 ponies cascading into a Roman Coliseum.
Cons: No fluffy filling. Chocolatey smell doesn’t fully carry over in flavor. Not-so-exciting cake flavor of flour and cheap coffee. May have Celine Dion song stuck in head for the rest of the day.

REVIEW: Hostess White Fudge Ding Dongs

Hostess White Fudge Ding Dongs

Ding Dongs really are the laziest of the Hostess family.

Ho Hos have some level of technical achievement.

CupCake’s got the swirl.

But the Ding Dong? It’s just a puck.

It’s a slice of a chocolate cake tube, stuffed with creme, and coated in the most chocolatey of wax. Despite their cartoonish name, Ding Dongs are a distinctly utilitarian snack food and the most mathematically efficient delivery system for chocolate and vanilla flavors.

In their search to remove even more joy from their brand of sugar discs, Hostess have introduced White Fudge Ding Dongs. An all-white variation that subs the coating for white chocolate, and switches the cake from cocoa to vanilla. The resulting product is bleak, bland, and cynically sweet.

The waxy exterior of a classic Ding Dong cracks into sweet shards, unmelting as the tongue is distracted by the cake and creme. For the White Fudge variant, Hostess appears to have shelled out for an actual food product. The exterior melts, enriching the entire bite with a sugary swirl. For a packaged cake, the texture is pretty satisfying. However, it’s also very prone to melting after just a few seconds of being held. Prepare for sticky fingers.

Hostess White Fudge Ding Dongs 2

While the coating is good, it’s wasted on a cake that is already saturated with creamy vanilla. It’s white chocolate on yellow cake, surrounding white creme. The flavor profile is blindingly sweet, lacking any deeper notes to appreciate. The fudge tastes like an extension of the cake, which tastes like an extension of the creme. All binding into a single, monotone bite. These white pucks offer little more a profound head rush. With 33 grams of sugar between the pair, I struggled to get through both of them.

White Fudge Ding Dongs feel like the result of an algorithm gone wrong. The classic version is already so basic, and so simplistic – distilling it any further leaves nothing behind but sugar. White chocolate is best used as an accent for other, more bold items. Had Hostess kept the chocolate cake, something special would have been found with this white fudge coating. But as is, White Fudge Ding Dongs are difficult to recommend.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 310 calories, 140 calories from fat, 16 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 33 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 2.55 oz./2 cakes
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Coating tastes and melts like actual white fudge. Overflowing with creme. You won’t want to eat both, so they’re sharable.
Cons: Tastes like straight sugar and vanilla. Coats your fingers in melted white goo. Looks like prop food in a teen dystopian movie.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Shamrock CupCakes

Hostess Limited Edition Shamrock CupCakes

I don’t eat green treats until after Valentine’s Day. But come February 15, I’m all about everything mint, pistachio, apple, lime, and even avocado.

(Seriously, mint is my favorite flavor, but why does “shamrock” have to mean mint? Why don’t other green flavors get to shine during March? Once I was talking about this with a college roommate, and he said, “Lime isn’t a St. Patrick’s Day flavor!” When I asked him to explain why mint was more relevant, he said that limes make him think of tropical places, whereas mint makes him think of…the Northern Hemisphere. I could tell he was just making things up at that point.)

On February 1, when I saw these Limited Edition Hostess Shamrock CupCakes, I had to have them, especially since they were the only box on the shelf, and especially since St. Patrick’s Day goodies are much rarer than their spooky, jolly, amorous, and hippity-hoppity cousins. I tucked them away until February 15 in my special drawer where the out-of-season treats wait their turn.

Hostess Limited Edition Shamrock CupCakes 2

I love how pretty these are: the familiar white squiggle on top, and this time it’s on a lovely chartreuse, with a beautiful filling to match!

I’m glad these are actually a unique flavor, not just a unique color. Only the filling has a mint flavor, as far as I can tell, and it’s subtle. You can tell it’s there, but it takes a backseat to the chocolate cake.

Hostess Limited Edition Shamrock CupCakes 3

That might be good if you don’t like mint, but if you don’t like it, you probably wouldn’t buy these anyway. Toothpaste-strong wouldn’t be good either, but I would have liked a mintier kick. The cake is just what you’d expect from a Hostess CupCake, soft but a little dense. The frosting is a waxy, flavorless substance.

Hostess products are hit and miss for me. I love the Pumpkin Spice CupCakes and the oft-maligned Sno Balls, but other products disappoint. They are so cute that I forget that they don’t always taste as good as they look.

So it is with this St. Paddy’s Day version of CupCakes. It’s a nice variation on the standard chocolate CupCake, but unlike the stereotypical March kite-flying weather, it won’t blow you away.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 160 calories, 50 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 12.7 oz. box/8 cakes
Purchased at: Smith’s Marketplace (Kroger)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like a standard CupCake with a bit of mint. Seasonal flavors. Lovely green.
Cons: Tastes like a standard CupCake. Mint is subtle. Waxy “frosting.” Bad puns in closing paragraphs. Why does it have to be mint for March, instead of other green flavors?

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes Cookies

Those funny little tree dwelling elves at Keebler really caught my attention last year. After being pushed to the back of my junk food brain, they officially put Fudge Stripes back on the map with killer Birthday Cake and Peppermint flavors that stood up to all of the limited release cookies I had in 2016.

To the resounding excitement of cinna-sluts like myself all across the nation, they’re kicking off 2017 with a Cinnamon Roll rendition of their famous striped confections.

Keebler Limited Batch Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes Cookies 2

Immediately the rich robust smell of cinnamon and vanilla icing float out of the cool brown package. The aroma mimics that unmistakable head-turning scent that wafts out all Cinnabon’s in the finest shopping malls of America, resulting in the starry-eyed activation of the salivary glands.

The crunchy snap of the cookie is more pronounced than your average Fudge Stripe, which tends to occupy that space right between a soft and hard cookie. Leading the flavor is a soft cinnamon rush that is beautiful and balanced by the the thick and smooth vanilla glaze. It has a little bit less of a buttery taste than the usual Stripes’ shortbread base, and the dark tan cookie is speckled with brown giving an even and full cinnamon burst in every bite.

Keebler Limited Batch Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes Cookies 3

The overall flavor is less sweet than their standard cookie but also not too aggressively spiced. For people who love cinnamon, like myself, there’s enough to satisfy, but not so much that they would turn someone off who may be more adverse to a strongly spiced cookie. Taste-wise the product they are most reminiscent of are cinnamon Teddy Grahams.

Keebler Limited Batch Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes Cookies 4

Unlike an Oreo, there’s no real way to separate the baked base from the coating, but it’s pretty apparent that the cinnamon comes from the brown speckled cookie and the sweetness driven by the glaze. Surprisingly, the frosting flavor comes across much sweeter in the smell than it does on the tongue, which makes me feel like I could eat approximately 45 of these before any kind of “stop” registers in my brain.

For cookies that were baked inside of a tree, these are an impressive and satisfying take on one of Saturday morning’s greatest indulgences. Hopefully the Keebler clan can continue to channel their elfin voodoo and crank out a pancakes and syrup flavor so I will never have to cook breakfast again.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 11.5 oz package
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Perfect cinnamon bun smell. Amazing cookie crunch. Balanced cinnamon and vanilla flavor. Potential to save breakfast cooking time in the future.
Cons: Could use some yeasty bread “roll” flavor.

REVIEW: Hostess Deep Fried Banana Twinkies

Hostess Deep Fried Banana Twinkies

Before I start, I have one simple request.

Every time you see the words “Deep Fried Banana Twinkies” in this review, read it in a sensual Barry White-esque voice. Pump some smooth bedroom music through your speaker to set the mood. If by the end you don’t want a box of Deep Fried Banana Twinkies, you might not be human. 

What? Oh come on, don’t make it weird. You’re making it weird.

You made it weird. Forget it. Read the words normally. It’s a free country.

Despite having one of just about everything under the sun fried, this was my first *flicks on romantic tune* Deep. Fried. Ba-na-na. Twinkie. Awww, yeahhhh. Okay, I’ll stop.

Hostess Deep Fried Banana Twinkies 2

I cooked said Twinkie in the oven (which is recommended) but you can also use a toaster oven, or deep fry them again. I’m not going to judge.

Out of the box the Twinkies look like potato croquettes. Maybe even a fat chicken tender. That sight messed with my mind a bit. I started to think I was all set to have a savory snack.

After a couple minutes, I made a cooking faux pas and opened the stove to get a whiff. I’d say there was almost a churro-like aroma. Nice.

Hostess Deep Fried Banana Twinkies 3

I took it out at the seven minute mark, which ended up being perfect. The cake was just hot enough to differ from a normal Twinkie, and the cream wasn’t like molten lava.

Deep Fried Banana Twinkies are breaded in a graham cracker coating, and maybe it was my mind playing games with me, but that portion almost tasted savory in the end. There was a serious lack of sweetness before the banana cream hit.

The familiar sponge cake is still underneath, and the overall texture was okay, if not a little doughy. I now understand why I’ve seen fried Twinkies smothered in syrup or powdered sugar at county fairs. It needed another sweet element. 

Hostess Deep Fried Banana Twinkies 4

I wondered if the warmth might ruin the taste of the banana cream, but it was just like a normal Banana Twinkie. Still, there wasn’t enough to overpower the graham and sponge cake’s lack of sweetness. Next time I eat one, I’ll probably drop a dollop of chocolate syrup on top.

Look, it sounds like I’m complaining, but the graham cracker did give the Twinkie a nice outer crisp. It just wasn’t particularly flavorful. It also had an odd aftertaste, but I actually think the fried sponge cake was the culprit there. 

Regular Deep Fried Twinkies have a funnel cake coating, and now I’m kinda bummed I didn’t get those. That just sounds better.

In the end, the outer fried portion wasn’t sweet enough, and probably too doughy, but once the cream hit, Deep Fried Banana Twinkies are still pretty good. They’re definitely worth a try.

I will say that the price is ridiculous, and as an Impatient American (I’m the Union President) I don’t love the idea of waiting for an oven to preheat, 6-8 minutes to cook, and two minute to cool off before eating a snack cake. Yeah, I enjoy a homemade cookie or brownie, but that’s a different mindset. You want a Twinkie? Open a box and eat a Twinkie. Who has time for this waiting nonsense?

If the graham coating was tastier and the price was lower, these could become a snack I regularly keep in the freezer, but for now I probably won’t go back unless they put out some crazy flavor concoctions in the future. Awwww yeahhhh, baby. 

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 230 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 420 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $5.49
Size: 7 cakes/box
Purchased at: Shop Rite
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Banana Cream never fails. Nice outer crisp. Fried Fair Food Fare. Barry White voice. Potato Croquettes.
Cons: Graham cracker not flavorful enough. Expensive. Time consuming. “Dollop” is my least favorite word in the English language. Funnel Cake > Graham Cracker.