REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition White Peppermint Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition White Peppermint Twinkies

It’s mid-November. Even though our nation’s turkeys still await their presidential pardons (if they’re lucky) and ‘ducken-ings (if they’re not), grocery store shelves have chosen to completely ignore Thanksgiving and just put out their merriest wares. I kind of wish seasonal snacks would go from “Monster Mash” to “Potato Mash” instead of jumping straight to “Assorted Non-Denominational Red & Green Mish-Mash,” but it’s hard to stay mad when a box of sprinkled white fudge cylinders sits in front of me.

I’m going to try my best to review Hostess’s new White Peppermint Twinkies, but be warned: my favorite radio station is already playing Christmas tunes, and I get distracted easily.

Hostess Limited Edition White Peppermint Twinkies 2

I’m dreaming…of a white Twinkie
Just like the Ghostbusters ones from not long ago
But this one’s red sprinkles glisten
And it’s so fun to listen
As they crunch like feet on snow

The white fudge on every White Peppermint Twinkie is reminiscent of this summer’s marshmallowy Twinkies: a nearly cloying white chocolate that’s blended with confectioner’s sugar and a hint of vanilla. But this new stuff also feels fudgier, oiler, and more buttery, almost like freshly iced sugar cookies. These Twinkies must’ve been made by the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man’s loving grandma.

The icing on this icing’s cake is the sprinkles. They don’t bring any noticeable bursts of sugar, but these Twinkies don’t need more sugar—I’m already writing this at 120bpm. The sprinkles do provide a neat crunchiness that contrasts all the creamier elements, which is much needed: if I wanted to eat a tube of pure mush, I’d rather suck down a roll of Pillsbury Holiday Shapes cookie dough like it’s a reindeer-stamped popsicle.

Peppermint bark! this Hostess angel cake brings
“Glory to its clear wrapping!
Light on bite and mercifully mild
Mint and chocolate, reconciled”

You’ll notice I didn’t mention the peppermint taste yet. That’s because there isn’t a lot of it. Like custardy peppermint bark, White Peppermint Twinkies only have a mellow undercurrent of candy cane flavor. It won’t prickle your taste buds, freshen your breath, or produce a tracheal chill when you breathe inwards, but this peppermint pulse is still a refreshing complement for the chocolate: just imagine a gelatinous, doughy Thin Mint with an inverted color scheme.

Hostess Limited Edition White Peppermint Twinkies 3

I’ll try the sponge cake,
(But baby, it’s dry inside)
the cream for old times’ sake
(But baby, it’s bland inside)

It’s not all winter wonderlands and tubular Girl Scout cookies, though. At the heart of every fudge-slathered Yule log lies a ho-hum combo of cake and cream. The cake layer seems more aerated and floury than usual, leaving me to wonder whether Hostess ran out of golden Twinkie sponge cake and started coating rolled Wonder Bread in white chocolate instead.

The cream filling is up to Hostess standards, but that’s the problem. It just tastes like sugared whipped cream, without a unique twinge of mint, fudge, or Christmas magic. I bit in expecting a delightful Twinkie stocking stuffer, but it turns out that the stocking was the most fun part.

Fros-ted white chocolate
Could lead to a jolly happy whole
But boring cream and cake that blows
Make this a Twinkie without soul

I wanted to adore White Peppermint Twinkies, but I merely like them. Like a holiday light show on a house without a tree inside, these cakes’ Scrooged-up innards betray their exciting exterior. I recommend buying these Twinkies for an early Christmas spirit sugar rush or as mantle decorations, but don’t expect to remember them fondly (or at all) come Groundhog’s Day.

Now if we could just get some Mashed Potato Twinkies.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 160 calories, 8 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 13 oz box/9 Twinkies
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Albino sugar cookie ectoplasm. Peppermint that tastes like smooth jazz. The oddly satisfying goodness of a crunchy Twinkie. Daydreaming about Maple-Glazed Yam Twinkies.
Cons: Stuffing plain ol’ year-round cream into the most wonderful time of the year. More like, “fallen angel food cake,” am I right? Not enough mint to please Candy Cane Forest dwellers. Thanksgiving: always the bridesmaid, never the snack food aisle bride.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Twinkies

Is that photo on the Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Twinkies box supposed to be appetizing?

My goodness, it’s like watching meat come out of a meat grinder. Or a pig being born. Or Vienna sausage being made. It’s like staring at potted meat. Don’t know what potted meat is? For all that is holy, DON’T LOOK IT UP!

The thing is, in real life, the filling doesn’t quite look like mangled flesh. It has a very light pink hue with red specks. But it’s so light that in some lighting situations it looks grey. So I guess this is one of those cases where what it actually looks like is better looking than what’s on the packaging, but barely.

The filling is supposed to remind you of pumpkin pie. When I closed my eyes, I’m reminded of POTTED MEAT! That image on the box has burned itself onto my brain. Now I feel as if I should go stare at Spam to get the image of potted meat out of my head.

Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Twinkies 2

Of the spices you’d find in pumpkin pie, the only one listed in the ingredients is cinnamon. Of course, there’s natural and artificial flavoring that fill in for the other spices, but I’m glad Hostess spent a little scratch to include real cinnamon. But even with real cinnamon, it doesn’t have have a pumpkin spice flavor that pops. It doesn’t have a flavor that makes me say, “Hey honey, you know that whole tradition of eating pumpkin pie at Thankgiving? Let’s forget that and replace them with these Twinkies.”

But if you were celebrating National Cinnamon Day (a day that, surprisingly, with all the fake food holidays, doesn’t exist) these Twinkies would be an awesome way to get your Cinna-on.

One last thing about the flavor, there’s an artificial sweetener aftertaste even though there aren’t any listed in the ingredients. It reminded me of the taste in my mouth after eating a pumpkin spice-flavored light yogurt.

As for the “golden sponge cake,” it tasted like a regular Twinkie, but something seemed different about its texture. Maybe they weren’t as spongy as I remember. Maybe I got a bad batch. Maybe the box I bought was around since last year. Or maybe Twinkie the Kid is cutting corners so that he has extra money to buy whatever drug he smokes/snorts/shoots that makes him so damn happy all the damn time. I don’t know. Although its texture was different, the cake had that same Twinkies greasiness that we all know and love not to get on our hands because it will get all over our smartphone screens.

Overall, Hostess’ Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Twinkies are okay if you’re into cinnamon or light pumpkin spice yogurts, but eating them won’t be a yearly tradition for me.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 260 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Twinkies
Purchased Price: $2.97
Size: 10 cakes
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Cinnamon-y. Looks better in real life than on the packaging.
Cons: Pumpkin spice flavor doesn’t pop; it’s almost all cinnamon. Sponge cake had a weird texture; not as spongy. Artificial sweetener aftertaste. Image of creme on the box looks unappetizing. Getting Twinkies grease on our phone screens. Potted meat haunting me.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies

Candy Canes and Cookies.

It has a cute ring to it, doesn’t it? Like the title of a baking blog, or a children’s Christmas story, or even a specialty store that sells holiday-themed socks. But eaten together?

Sure, we’ve had Candy Cane Oreo Cookies, but a part of me has always felt the confection world should never be combined with the creaming method world. It’s sort of like fish and cheese. Conventional wisdom tells us these things just don’t “go” together, and far be it for drumming up iconoclasm once Christmas comes around.

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies change all that. It really shouldn’t be a surprise; I mean, these are cookies baked by magical elves. Yes, they may live in a tree owned by Kellogg’s, but I like to think of the Keebler elves as cousins to Santa’s elves, except more proficient in cookie making than toy making.

And let me tell you something: The Keebler elves nail the cookie thing here, just like how Santa’s elves nailed my 1997 request for a Nintendo Gameboy. The familiar shortbread cookie base is crunchy, buttery, and not overpoweringly sweet; small bursts of red nonpareils lend a sweet sugar cookie vibe, while the white fudge coating further adds to the frosting-like texture of the cookie.

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies 2

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies 4

As for the peppermint taste, it’s right where it needs to be. The danger with peppermint anything is that the floral, light taste of mint overwhelms the taste buds and makes you feel like you’re eating a Tic-Tac. Thankfully, that is not the case with these cookies. The peppermint taste is there, but it’s not that rush of winter freshness that comes from binging on a box of candy canes (pro tip: not good). Instead, the floral taste gives a cool relief to the frosting-like white fudge, which has a rich vanilla sweetness.

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies 3

While Keebler’s elves are clearly taking a page from Santa’s elves in the design of a Christmas themed cookie, what they haven’t managed to do is perfect a flawless packaging and delivery system. The same nonresealable package that plagues Fudge Stripes houses the limited edition cookie, while the white fudge coating had melted by the time I opened the package. The ensuing peppermint white fudge, while lickable and probably awesome on cupcakes, was stickier and harder to wash off my paws than the sugar coating of a half-eaten candy cane.

You gotta give it to the Keebler elves. After years of offering plain Fudge Stripes (which are delicious) they’ve tinkered their treehouse production facilities and expanded into pumpkin spice, birthday cake, cookies & creme, and now peppermint. I’m not saying these would be a great cookie to leave out for Santa, but yeah, with the frosted shortbread cookie vibe, crunchy vanilla, and peppermint sweetness, I am kind of saying that.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories from fat, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of sat fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fiber, and less than 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 11.5 oz
Purchased at: United Supermarkets
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Fresh and floral peppermint taste that doesn’t linger on your tongue like a candy cane. Crunchy shortbread cookie with rich white fudge and crunchy vanilla flavor. Would make a solid seasonal ice cream sandwich base.
Cons: Keebler’s absolute reluctance to embrace resealable packaging. White fudge coating can melt and be messy. Limited appeal for non-peppermint lovers. The politics of elf family trees.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies

Life tip number one: Always write your name in big, bold letters on your cowboy hat.

Life tip number two: Never say no to cheesecake, especially when it involves pumpkin.

Ever since Hostess rose from the crumbling sponge cake edifice of its 2012 bankruptcy filing, the company has been churning out seasonal flavors with Pop-Tart like alacrity. You might just say that Twinkie the Kid (who’s actually a 55-year old man who apparently doesn’t believe in wearing shirts) is a Twinkie of many hats, except, well, Twinkie the Kid always wears a cowboy hat.

Well, Twinkie the Kid must be hiding a chef’s hat under his Stetson, because his new Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies might just be the pinnacle of artificial pumpkin spice cheesecake flavor.

I wrote this in an endearing manner; one only expects so much authenticity in a cheesecake-flavored product that contains hydrogenated beef tallow, yet for what the Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies lack in their simplicity of ingredients, they more than make up for in surprisingly unexpected guilty pleasure appeal.

The key to enjoying the flavor of the Twinkies, like the key to enjoying so many mass-produced bakery snacks, is to judge the flavor as a sum of the cake’s part. I won’t sugarcoat this, because the 18 grams of sugar in each Twinkie already do, but the white fudge coating is waxy and saccharine on its own. The Twinkie cake, is, well, a slightly dry sponge cake that could just last into eternity. And the cream? A cinnamon and nutmeg explosion spilled into equal parts sour cream and marshmallow fluff.

When I first ate the Twinkie in three distinct parts, I thought it was mediocre. But then, since I’m a complete glutton who absolutely loves pumpkin spice cheesecake, I stuffed a whole Twinkie in my mouth.

Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies 2

The flavor was unexpectedly if not unequivocally pumpkin spice, with a sweet, slightly tangy filling providing notes of cheesecake. The white fudge coating, commingling with the cakey and cream filled elements, suddenly provided both a textural contrast that mimicked a cheesecake crust, while also serving as a rich and sweet topping. I’m not saying it was a Cheesecake Factory experience par excellence, but as each Twinkie wrapper fell to the floor and crumbs of white fudge coating smeared onto my shirt, both the cheesecake and pumpkin spice flavor became more pronounced.

Which brings me to my major problem with Twinkie the Kid’s latest concoction: It’s hard to say no. Actually, it’s downright impossible, even though the cloying nature of the white fudge and the cinnamon heavy flavored cream tell your brain that this is not exactly the most authentic representation of pumpkin spice cheesecake you could buy.

But that’s the thing about both cheesecake and pumpkin spice: there’s a margin for error that doesn’t demand Philadelphia cream cheese, toasted nutmeg, or Saigon cinnamon. The flavor can be artificial; it can be overly sweet. Yet as long as it works within the constraints of the ingredients to conjure up the flavor of pumpkin spice cheesecake, it’s not something you’re going to say no to.

And judging by the how quickly I plowed through the nine snack cakes in my box of Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies, I won’t be saying no to buying these again.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Cake – 170 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 6.0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 9 cakes
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Admirably complexity in the pumpkin spice flavored cream. Cream has a cheesecake tang and thicker viscosity than normal Twinkie cream. White Fudge coating binds the whole cake together with rich and sweet flavor. Doesn’t screw up one of the best flavors of fall.
Cons: The white fudge coating is almost uneatable when sampled alone. Exceptionally sweet. Made with the same great stuff that McDonald’s used to fry their fries in. Eating 720 calories in Twinkies and still feeling famished.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Hostess Limited Edition Caramel Apple Cupcakes

I love festivals.

I can’t help it.

I haven’t encountered a pig race, funhouse, or merry-go-round I don’t enjoy. Bring on your strong man contests, your ring tosses, your wooden roller coasters of questionable integrity. Why, between the bells, balloon animals, and clinkity clank music, there’s enough joy here to make a circus look like a film noir.

So it should come of no surprise that I was drawn to these Hostess Caramel Apple Cupcakes. I always, always, always make a moment of having caramel apples at Fall Festivals. I once consumed five of them before going into the corn maze, where I proceeded to get lost for three hours…BUT I survived! All credit goes to caramel apples.

Hostess Limited Edition Caramel Apple Cupcakes 2

Out of the gate, these cupcakes are lookin’ fine. There are smells of cider, crackles of caramel frosting, and red squiggles, all squished in an authentic “I got shipped in a truck and thrown on a shelf” way. Everything is perfect. Resistance is futile.

And, ladies and gentlemen, this is one peculiar cupcake. It’s admirably different, in its own pudgy, small, charming way. There’s the spongy, floury cake, which has bits of woodsy, warm cinnamon and some sort of tanginess that feels like a moderate hint-and-nudge toward the apple, although it speaks more toward a blend of the formerly mentioned cider and melted Jolly Ranchers.

Next up to bat is the crackly top glaze, which tastes of honey and caramel and molasses and vanilla and the burnt top of crème brulée all smooshed together. It’s like an unpaid syrup-harvesting intern got lost in the woods and decided to mix all the sugars. It’s confusing and brilliant, much like interns themselves.

And then there’s the caramel filling. In a color that’s not nearly as terrifyingly brown as the cover portrays, it seems Hostess has repurposed the light, extremely sugary caramel fluff from the Sea Salt Caramel Cupcakes and smashed it in here. Fluffy and sugar-forward, this stuff is less discreet than a mammoth in the knitting aisle. Its strong blast of Cool-Whip-like sugariness levels out the cinnamon of the cake quite nicely. Between these fluffy insides and the caramel-frosted top, caramel becomes the star of the show.

Just one thing: what happened to the apple?? Sure, there was that Jolly Rancher cider thing, but it came without chunks. It came without dices. It came without nibbles, pieces, or slices. What a tragedy. The cake could’ve benefited from a Hulk smash of tart apples. Even real applesauce or apple juice would do. This hint of flavoring? Would make an apple-loving Hulk cry. Don’t make Hulk cry!

Hostess Limited Edition Caramel Apple Cupcakes 3

But let us not dwell on the tears of giants. As it seems to go, the simplest pattern for my enjoying something usually goes 2 moments of curiosity + 1 dose lack of self-control x 8 tons of the positive or negative feedback on tastiness, and these? Are good. The cake is soft and cinnamony, the crackly frosted top stays true to its caramel name, and the inner frosting is a delicious, crazy sweet fluff, and, if you close your eyes and make a wish, it all has a slight echo of something apple-y (although you have to wish really, really hard). Can these be a little too sweet sometimes? Are they a little unbalanced? Would I like to see more apples? Sure, but, on the whole, these cupcakes are peculiar and delightful.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to eat five of them and go find a corn maze I can get lost in.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Cupcake – 160 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 1 box/8 cakes
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Soft, cinnamony cake. Crackly caramel frosting top. Fluffy, sweet insides. Syrup-harvesting interns gone amok. Corn mazes. Roller coasters of questionable integrity.
Cons: Where be the apples, yo? Questionable presence of “Hydrogenated beef tallow.” May make Hulk cry. Getting lost in a corn maze for three hours.