REVIEW: Hostess Chocolate Cake Twinkies

Hostess Chocolate Cake Twinkies

From the dawn of prepackaged snack good creation, there have been clear lines of evolutionary development. Following the progenitor of all these treats, the Hostess Cupcake created in 1919, diverged the Ho-Ho (1920), Suzy-Q’s (1961), and finally the Ding Dong (1967).

But all of these products pale in comparison to the Twinkie. Engineered in 1930, it not only survived a flavor change in World War II, but also has evolved into one of the most nuanced and copied bakery items in history. And now it’s getting a new modification: chocolate cake.

To be sure, this is not the first time chocolate and Twinkie have tangoed together. The elusive Chocodile beguiled East Coast junk food addicts for years before a 2014 national re-release, while chocolate cream-injected Twinkies make a yearly appearance around Halloween (presumably because Hostess thinks rhyming is a good way to market empty calories).

But never before have we seen this.

The first question I had was “Why?” The second question I had was “Why not?” The third question I had was “Do you know where the toilet paper aisle is?” because I was in an unfamiliar Walmart running errands.

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Having conquered my weekly duties, I made sure to rewards myself with the new Chocolate Cake Twinkies. I was unimpressed; shorter and denser than the standard Twinkie, the Chocolate Cake Twinkies had a moist devil’s food crumb that is neither overwhelmingly chocolaty nor excessively dull. It is, as you’d expect from anything Hostess makes, super sweet, so much so that the chocolate becomes a cocoa sidekick to the insane rush of sugar.

While the Twinkies tasted a lot like a chocolate Zinger sans frosting (or every other Hostess chocolate baked good, for that matter) I did find myself missing the chocolate “shell” provided by products like Ho-Hos.

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I thought the chocolate might at least make the cream stand out, but this was not the case. If anything, it made my taste buds have less appreciation for the cream, which instead of balancing a rich chocolate sponge cake, mostly just tasted whipped marshmallow cream.

If there’s ever been a less satiating display of chocolate cake outside of this scene in Matilda, this is it. It’s not that the chocolate Twinkies suck, but rather that the essence of a Twinkie has always been it’s light, chiffon-flavored sponge cake filling. It’s what makes people eat them in droves, reference them in legal discourse, and, my personal favorite, put them on pizza. Without the light vanilla cake, the chocolate Twinkie just becomes a Zinger without the frosting, or, worse yet, Ho Hos without its shell.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes (77g) – 260 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: 2.7 oz./2-pack
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Smells like Cocoa Krispies. Moist cake element. Not as bad for you as eating an entire chocolate cake.
Cons: More of a cocoa than chocolate flavor. Squishy, dense cake texture. No balance with cream element. Tastes exactly like every other Hostess chocolate baked good except without the frosting or shell.

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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: 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.

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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.