REVIEW: Limited Edition Cotton Candy Twinkies

Limited Edition Cotton Candy Twinkies

I have a sinking suspicion someone from Hostess got drunk at a carnival and had way too much fun with some cute carnies. I envision the deep fried Twinkie stand being manned by a fun young lass who dared the Hostess rep to create the ultimate ode to her and her young child, who was cradling a big wispy whirly stack of cotton candy. Trying to win over her affection he made a promise then and there to put something exclusively on Walmart shelves that would honor her forever, and in that moment, the Cotton Candy Twinkie was born.

Or something like that.

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Pulling out my first cellophane beauty from its cardboard carnival house it’s no surprise that I’m greeted with a lovely smear of grease on the clear plastic, like the Twinkie was desperately trying to escape its factory sealed prison the entire time it was inside.

Releasing the ‘twink from captivity I’m immediately hit with a distinct cotton candy smell, and I’m impressed that I got such a strong aroma even before breaking into the cake. Unfortunately my hands are now already uncomfortably slimy and I’m not even eating bacon. Sigh.

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Biting into the cotton concoction is when the fun really begins. The outside sponge cake is the same as always – greasy and mediocre and has my mouth feeling the same as if my shoulders were endlessly shrugging. The bright pink cream filling legitimately tastes like cotton candy and what I imagine poison tastes like.

What starts as a distinct artificial cotton candy flavor that reminds me of one of my favorite ice creams growing up gradually transforms and finishes with a nagging, astringent, and harsh food dye flavor that is downright bad.

The sweet cotton candy flavor is there, and the texture is represented through the general creamy fluffiness of filling, but everything gets completely washed out by the aftertaste, which lingers and resides over second or third bites – if you can make it that far. The taste is so strong it reminds me of trying to eat something sweet immediately after brushing my teeth, and my mouth and mind join forces to let out one resounding NO.

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Simply put, these are not enjoyable to eat – at all. I’ll give props where props are due to Hostess for actually getting cotton candy flavor into the Twinkie, but if that flavor comes with a side dose of cringe-inducing astringency I will pass, and pass hard.

I’m starting to wonder if the people creating these products are even tasting them before they hit the shelves or if they just assume that everyone who consumes these will be high, drunk, or broken. Steer clear of these unless you legitimately like punishing your tastebuds like some sick twisted S&M carnival-themed eating game.

(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, 340 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 31 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 13.59 oz./10 pack
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Uhhh…they actually taste like cotton candy? Momentarily? A pretty blue box? I’m reaching here.
Cons: Awful astringent poison-esque aftertaste. Usual mediocre greasy Twinkie cake. I had to buy ten of them.

REVIEW: Hostess Chocodile Fudge Covered Twinkies (2017)

Hostess Chocodile Fudge Covered Twinkies  2017

The following conversations were taped on a recorded line, for quality assurance purposes.

August 2014

Hostess Operator: Hostess Bakery, how may I help you?

Me: Howdy, can I speak to Twinkie the Kid?

Hostess Operator: Twinkie the who?

Me: Twinkie the Kid — you know, oblong yellow guy, rosy dimples, wears a cowboy hat, a fierce opponents of pantalones.

Hostess Operator: Oh, so you want to order of Twinkies? Which flavor? May I suggest our Chocodile Twinkies? I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Me: That’s the absolute last thing I want. Have you tried those things? I’ve had M&M’s that are bigger, and definitely more chocolaty. What’s the shell made out of anyway? I’m fairly sure the black crayons I ate in preschool had a better texture than whatever y’all are pumping into those.

Hostess Operator: I’m sorry you’re disappointed, sir.

Me: Well I’m sorry you’re sorry I’m disappointed.

Hostess Operator: What does that even mean?

Me: No idea. Can I just talk to The Kid?

Hostess Operator: I’m sorry, sir, but he’s currently at 73rd Annual Prepackaged Snack Cake Convention. We’ll pass on your comments.

MeBu—

Hostess Operator: Goodbye!

April 2017

Hostess Operator: Hostess Bakery, how may I direct your call?

Me: Hey, yeah, can I speak to Twinkie the Kid? I’ve got an urgent question.

Hostess Operator: Twinkie the who?

Me: Really, were going to do this again?

Hostess Operator: Oh, I remember you! You’re the one who said he’d rather eat crayons than our Chocodile Twinkies.

Me: Technically, I’d rather eat neither, but sure, we can go with that. But speaking about those Chocodile Fudge Covered Twinkies.

Hostess Operator: Still crap?

Me: No, much better. Actually, they’re really kind of good, although I admit that box with the melted chocolate being drizzled over the Twinkie is a tad bit deceptive.

Hostess Operator: Call it advertising liberty.

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Me: Sure. But like I said, pretty good. The chocolate shell actually tastes like chocolate. Now I’m not talking fancy chocolate you’d buy for your wife on Valentine’s Day, but definitely the kind of chocolate you pick up at the dollar store and put in your 4-year-olds Easter basket.

Hostess Operator: So you’re saying it doesn’t taste like wax?

Me: Oh yeah, not at all. I mean it’s still incredibly sweet. But since they’re bigger, one or two definitely kills a snack cake craving.

Hostess Operator: And the Twinkie cake and crème?

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Me: Oh yeah, I almost forgot. That’s really the best part; since the shell doesn’t ruin the essence of the Twinkie, it actually serves as a kind of shield that helps preserves the fluffy cake inside. And let me tell you, when you can line up fluffy cake, crispy chocolate shell, and Twinkie crème, and do it all without any funky aftertastes or waxy crayon texture, then you’ve got a product I’ll keep buying.

Hostess Operator: Sounds like you won’t need to be talking to Twinkie the Kid after all.

Me: Oh, no. I still need to ask him why he never wears pants.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 210 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 8-pack
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Preservation of Twinkie “essence.” Improved texture and taste in the chocolate (excuse me: ‘fudge’) shell. Bigger than the 2014 Chocodiles.
Cons: Not exactly Ghirardelli. The proverbial cloying taste of Twinkie shell. Awesome source of saturated fat. Horrible customer service.

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.