REVIEW: Hostess Cookies ‘n Creme Brownies

Hostess Cookies  n Creme Brownies

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve always been one of those people that get paralyzed by the abundance of choice I have when it comes to food.

Do I want peanut butter or almond butter on my sandwich? Cinnamon chewing gum or spearmint to keep in my purse? As for coffee, don’t even get me started on Starbucks since I can easily spend half an hour trying to decide what I want.

With Hostess and its new Cookies ‘n Crème Brownies, though, at least I won’t have to agonizingly choose between cookies or brownies for dessert anymore!

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Out of the box, each one of these cute little pucks come individually wrapped in Hostess-branded cellophane, which I suppose is to keep them fresh while also making them easy to eat on the go. Also, as an unintentional bonus, they help to prevent people from confusing them for especially lonely Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, which is appreciated since they look nearly identical from the outside.

Picking one of them up, I was surprised to find they’re oddly light for brownies. I associate brownies with being dense, fudgy, chewy squares of bliss, so I had a hard time believing these were going to be anything like that.

My trepidation about the texture wasn’t unfounded, either, because the brownies were as airy as I had expected them to be. They were so cakey that I don’t even think that they’re in the same galaxy as Cosmic Brownies. Compared to the decadent delights brought forth by Little Debbie, these are more like a flat, chocolate snack cake coated with Cookies ‘n Crème-styled icing.

After I stopped thinking about them as brownies and start thinking about them as any other snack cake, they get a lot more enjoyable. They smell like a combination of milk chocolate and sweet cream, and that’s the primary flavor that comes across when I chomp down on one of them. The white outer coating supplied the “cream” aspect, while the baked interior reminded me of cookies.

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Expanding on the cookie aspect, Hostess didn’t nail the whole Oreo-esque flavor profile that well here. Instead, I felt the light cocoa and spongier texture used in the cake were more reminiscent of the cookies used to construct Whoopie Pies. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, I still think that Hostess should have used a crème filling studded with cookie crumbs or something to bring the Cookies ‘N Crème theme around full-circle.

Even though I would consider two or three of these a worthy choice for a midnight snack, I still think Hostess should take some baking lessons from Little Debbie, because her brownies are out-of-this-world delicious by comparison.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Brownie – 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of total sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.97
Size: 6-pack
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Not having to decide between cookies and brownies. Branded wrapper keeps you from confusing them for a different snack. Pretty tasty when you think of them as snack cakes. Acceptable choice for late night noshing.
Cons: Not nearly fudgy enough to be called a brownie. Doesn’t remind me of Oreos. Needs a crème filling or some cookie crumbs or something. Makes me wish that Little Debbie could teach Hostess how to make better brownies.

REVIEW: Hostess Peanut Butter Ding Dongs

Hostess Peanut Butter Ding Dongs

Sometimes, life presents small, yet pressing emergencies that must be addressed at once: the printer is out of ink, your car engine’s sputtering fumes, your roommate ate all the popsicles on the first 80-degree day of spring (always share the popsicles!).

These are the everyday, yet highly significant crises, the things that cannot wait for some imagined perfect time on your agenda. And today? That crisis is the craving for peanut butter and chocolate. To ignore this need would be reprehensible, so let us not dilly-dally. Onward! To the snack cake!

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I have tried all the snack cakes – the rolls, the crispies, the fluffies, the strange holiday shapies — and, I dare say, this iteration is quite pleasant. While not nouveau or flashy by any means, this humble pastry circle does good on its promise to highlight the cake’s prima donna: chocolate and peanut butter.

Biting in, there’s an ample floof of creamy peanut butter filling much akin to peanut butter-fied frosting from the tub. Surrounding it is a milk chocolate-y coating that’s been drizzled together with peanut butter confection, which has enough nutty, cocoa-y chime to remind me why I shovel Reese’s into my mouth like a Hungry Hippo.

The chocolate portion of the coating is a tad thin, yet quite tasty. Sure, it’s not Ghirardelli by any stretch of the imagination, but it brings flavors of fudge, milk chocolate, chocolate frosting to the fore and, like all the Hostess goods of my youth, combines into an experience that is deliciously familiar and so crammed with sugar, I probably have enough energy to perform Riverdance blindfolded right now.

Now, the cake is another story. Maybe I got a crummy batch, but when it comes to being light and fluffy, this pastry has hitched a one-way ticket on the struggle bus. It’s dense, flavorless, and nothing more than ho-hum. That said, I didn’t expect some extravagant cake straight from the ovens of the Great British Bake-Off, especially when a pack of two is only 50 cents.

The cake’s really just a neutral vehicle to hold all the chocolate and peanut butter together, which it does quite well and for a super inexpensive price. So if, and I’m just thinking ahead, you know, thinking of us, you were to buy, say, 29 packs, it may prove to be one of the best decisions you’ve made in 2018.

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If you’ve ever been charmed (understandably) by a Reese’s, these are not going to replace the confection in the chocolate-and-peanut-butta-lovin’ pocket of your soul, but if you’d like a pretty good, no-nonsense snack cake, these are chocolate-y, peanut butter-y, and sturdy enough that you can add ice cream and they will not turn to mush.

Simple and to-the-point, they require little thought other than ripping open a little tag of cellophane and even make a nice breakfast on a Wednesday. And don’t we all deserve a nice breakfast on a Wednesday?

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 350 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 47 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 36 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 50 cents
Size: 2-pack
Purchased at: 99-Cent Store
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Chocolate coating. Peanut butter drizzle in coating. Frosting-like peanut butter floof inside. Reason to use “floof” in everyday language. Clogging Riverdance blindfolded.
Cons: Dense, flavorless cake. Could have greater ratio of chocolate coating. Discovering you’re out of printer ink. Roommates who eat all the popsicles without asking.

REVIEW: Hostess Suzy Q’s (2018)

Hostess Suzy Q s  2018

Suzy Q Review: Take 2.

Back in 2015, I reviewed the re-release of Hostess’s Suzy Q’s and absolutely hated them. To this day they’re the lowest rated food I’ve ever had the (dis)pleasure of reviewing for this site.

I remember being timid when submitting the negative review, thinking the comments section would light me up for blaspheming a classic snack cake. Thankfully, everyone kinda agreed. We all seemed to have some Q’s for Suzy.

There was a social media outcry for Hostess to fix their mistake, and they did, by re-re-releasing Suzy Q’s.

Guess what folks? They’ve now gone and *REEEEE-MIXXXX* re-re-re-released them.

Here we are in 2018 and Suzy is finally back and better than ever? Let’s find out. Everyone deserves a fourth chance.

Hostess snack cakes all have the same welcoming smell of oily processed chocolate goodness, so these started out on the right foot. The smell instantly put me in mind of a Drake’s Devil Dog. These even look like a Devil Dog’s stubbier little sister.

These new Suzy Q’s boast 50 percent more cake, and 50 percent more crème. I’ll let you do the math there. I will not fat shame Suzy, but I do feel the need to shame Hostess.

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While the cake is spongy and moist enough, there’s too much of it. Sadly, it’s still the highlight here.

The crème is out of control. There’s wayyyyy too much crème. It’s thick, slightly gritty, cloying, and overbearing after two bites.

After the first bite, I was ready to say these tasted like Hostess’s famous cupcakes without the top coating and swirl, a.k.a. the best part. After the second less pleasurable bite, I knew exactly what these tasted like – Whoopie Pies.

Are you all familiar with Whoopie Pies?

My mother used to go to Pennsylvania Dutch Country and buy these Amish-made hockey puck-sized Whoopie Pies and that’s exactly what these put me in mind of. That may not exactly help you, but if you’ve ever had a Whoopie Pie from a Farmer’s Market type place, that’s a circular Suzy Q. They basically taste like a more processed knockoff of Whoopie Pies, and I was never a big fan of those to begin with.

For those reasons, Suzy Q’s almost taste like another company trying to mimic Hostess’ formula. I realize these were one of the O.G. Hostess cakes, so maybe I’m just not well versed in Hostess’ taste history.

In the end, these were an improvement from the last time, but I still think they’re in the bottom rung of Hostess products. The previous duds were definitely a more manageable size. With all the variety on shelves, I see no reason to ever buy Suzy Q’s.

Suzy Q, baby, I don’t like you.

I’m gonna freeze the rest of the box, because I feel like the crème will taste a little better cold and hardened, like my soul.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 260 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 27 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.97
Size: 15.66 oz. (6 cakes)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Much better than last time. Extra point in rating for Hostess admitting to its mistakes. I’ll probably like these better when I find ’em in the back of the freezer in a couple months. CCR is the greatest American rock band, don’t @ me.
Cons: Way too much crème. Too much cake. Tastes like a Whoopie Pie knockoff. Fool me twice, shame on me.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Twinkies

Who’s got a bandana that’s long and white? Twinkie’s got a bandana that’s long and white!

Who’s got a creme that’s mint instead? Twinkie’s got a creme that’s mint instead!

Mint instead, cake of red,

Bandana that’s white, winter delight,

Must be Twinkie, must be Twinkie, must be Twinkie, Twinkie Mint!

When I open up a package of these Hostess Peppermint Twinkies, I smell two distinct scents.

The first is a minty, Christmassy scent. For some reason, it reminds me of the first few hours after school on the last day before holiday break, eating the requisite candy cane they gave us at the school sing-along.

The second is the familiar odor of Twinkie sponge cake. If you’ve ever had a Twinkie, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve never had a Twinkie, it doesn’t matter, because you don’t exist anyway.

The Twinkies are described as “peppermint cake with creamy filling,” but I wonder if they got it backwards, and it’s supposed to be “peppermint creamy filling with cake.” When I try to isolate the components, I don’t detect any peppermint in the red-colored cake, but I do in the filling. Some weird kind of cross-contamination of flavors, maybe?

But maybe it’s in both because when I eat the cake like a normal person, it’s mintier than either part on its own. The textures are what you’d expect -— a soft, spongy cake with a light, airy filling. The minty flavor gives the humble Twinkie a nice festive upgrade. It’s not as minty as a mint-thusiast like me would like, but it works, and I suspect that even mint-averse folks could get on board with this candy-cane-esque cake.

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Considering that it’s a Twinkie, I have no complaints. It’s not a gourmet, decadent dessert, but it never claimed to be. It just claimed to be a limited edition suitable for the month of December (or November, apparently). I like this better than last year’s White Peppermint Twinkies or last spring’s Shamrock CupCakes.

Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Homer wanted to gain weight so he could go on disability? Dr. Nick advised him to eat from the neglected food groups: “Remember, if you’re not sure about something, rub it against a piece of paper. If the paper turns clear, it’s your window to weight gain.” Well, I got that greasy spot on my paper towel. So if you’ve been asked to play Santa Claus at your office Christmas party, these Twinkies are a tasty way to become your new jolly self.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 230 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 dietary fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 13.58 oz. box/10 cakes
Purchased at: Dick’s Market
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Nothing to complain about. Might appeal to people who don’t like mint. Festive upgrade to a classic standby. Coining the term “mint-thusiast.”
Cons: Not as minty as some would like. Leaves grease stains. The beginning of holiday weight gain.

REVIEW: Hostess Bakery Petites

Hostess Bakery Petites

Hostess’ new Bakery Petites line looks classier than the company’s iconic gang of treats — Twinkies, Ho Hos, and Ding Dongs. While the old school treats continue to be the definition of convenience store chic and have names that probably have different meanings when looked up on Urban Dictionary, the new ones come in resealable bags with classy, curvy graphics and photos that put them on an actual pedestal to show that they’re better.

Hostess’ Bakery Petites are available in six varieties, which I’ve listed and reviewed below in no particular order.

Hostess Bakery Petites Chocolate Chunk Brownie Delights

Chocolate Chunk Brownie Delights

The Chocolate Chunk Brownie Delights look like mini unfrosted Hostess Cupcakes rejects. Each one is slightly wider than a quarter and has a sunken middle, which I thought is a no-no when it comes to baking. But it’s not a production error because that’s how they look on the packaging. If that bothers you, I imagine frosting would make a great toupee to hide it.

If you’re someone who loves corner brownies and thinks because they’re round they must be all-corner brownies, slow your roll. While a little chewy, it’s not edge-chewy and I wish they were a little less cakey, but that’s a personal preference. There are chocolate bits inside each one, providing a delightful creamy bite and punching up the cocoa.

Hostess Bakery Petites Chocolate Chunk Brownie Delights 2

They taste like chocolate cake Hostess products and there are moments when I taste a little greasiness, but it’s still a pleasant chocolatey treat. They’re tasty enough that I ate more than the three-piece serving size in one sitting.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (3 mini brownies): 170 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

Hostess Bakery Petites Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Delights

Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Delights

The Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Delights look exactly alike its Chocolate Chunk sibling, even the dent on top of every piece. They’re so much alike that the photo below is actually not a photo of the raspberry mini brownies. Just kidding. They are.

But, while its sibling has chocolate chunks, this has real raspberries. Although, they come in a form I’ve never heard of before — raspberry flakes. They’re like Ben & Jerry’s Fudge Flakes in that they’re made from chocolate and aren’t flakes. They’re chunks, SO WHY AREN’T THEY CALL CHUNKS!!! Anyhoo, they give the brownie bites a familiar raspberry aroma that I’ve smelled with other confections and a tart candied raspberry flavor.

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While almost all the raspberry flavor comes from the flakes, the brownie part has a little fruitiness. This causes the chocolate to take a back seat. While these mini brownies are fine and I don’t have a problem with the fruit flavor, the Chocolate Chunk ones were more pleasing.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (3 mini brownies): 170 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

Hostess Bakery Petites Double Chocolate Cake Delights

Double Chocolate Cake Bites

These are like Cake Pops except without the sticks, so if you want to impress folks with cake pop, BYOS. They feature a chocolate creme center surrounded by chocolate cake that’s dipped in chocolate icing and sprinkled with white nonpareils.

The white nonpareils do the following — give a color contrast, add a crunch that contrasts the soft, chocolatey parts, and make them look more than chocolate balls. They don’t add any flavor and that’s a little disappointing because, just like the the Chocolate Chunk Brownie Delights, they have that familiar Hostess chocolate cake flavor.

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While those brownies look like mini unfrosted Cupcakes, the chocolatey icing layer helps these taste a lot like Hostess Cupcakes but without the vanilla creme filling. With so much chocolate, it’s hard to taste the different components, especially creme. Wait. Why am I complaining about too much chocolate? I’m being such a chocolate grinch. The cake is moist and the icing layer has a satisfying bite like a sugary glaze on a donut. The Double Chocolate Cake Bites are the ones I finished first and they’re my favorite.

Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (3 mini cakes): 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Hostess Bakery Petites White Fudge Vanilla Cake Delights

White Fudge Vanilla Cake Bites

Out of all of these fancy treats, from the packaging, these look the fanciest — colorful sprinkles on white fudge that coats a yellow cake ball filled with creme. They look so neat that I just want to take a photo of them, post it to Instagram, and wait for the Likes to start rolling in.

But they look a little less impressive in real life. The colorful sprinkles’ brightness is muted because they’re in the fudge coating and not on top of it. With that said, even with the way they are, they still look fancier than the others.

But they also don’t taste impressive.

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Despite not having anything regarding cherries in its ingredients list, they smell and taste like maraschino cherries. Also, the cake is dryer than the chocolate one. As for the creme filling, its flavor reminds me custard, but it gets overwhelmed with that fruity flavor. The sprinkles do add a crunchy element to the ping pong ball-sized treats, but they don’t help make them less odd tasting.

Since I don’t think white fudge vanilla cake when I eat these, and I find that to be a bit odd, they ended up being my least favorite of the six varieties.

Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (3 mini cake): 210 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

Hostess Bakery Petites Fudge Blondie Crispi Thins

Fudge Blondie Crispi Thins

Hostess totally misspelled “Crispi.” It should be spelled C-O-O-K-I-E.

Their rectangle shape makes me think of blond brownies, but when I eat them, all I think about are chocolate chip cookies. They’re crispy, have a brown sugar vibe, and hard to stop eating. Well, the only times I stopped eats by them as to see if the piece I picked up had chocolate on it.

If you look at the photo on the packaging you’ll see that every piece has at least two chocolate dots on them, but in real life that’s not the case. A number of my pieces didn’t have any chocolate which is disappointing because the chocolate adds a creaminess that’s the opposite of the crispy texture. The chocolate looks like they’re a little melted but without the mess of being melted.

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The brown sugary goodness, I guess, helps it taste more like a blondie brownie, but I still think chocolate chip cookie when I eat them.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (1 ounce): 130 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Hostess Bakery Petites Chocolate Brownie Crispi Thins

Chocolate Brownie Crispi Thins

While the Fudge Blondie Crispi Thins taste like a chocolate chip cookie, the Chocolate Brownie version tastes more like a brownie thanks to a little bit of dark fudginess. But I could also see these being mistaken flavor-wise as chocolate chocolate chip cookies.

Unlike the blondie version, almost every piece has a chocolate or two. There was even a piece that had five chocolate chips. BONUS!!! They have the same crispiness as the blondie version and the chocolate has the same soft texture. But without the chocolate chips, the thins are bland.

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Brownie thins aren’t a new idea. Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle has been around for years, but I’ve never had it, so I can’t compare. But I can compare the two brownie Crispi Thins, and they’re equally tasty.

Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts (1 ounce): 120 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

Sooo, that’s all the flavors.

Overall, I like the idea of Hostess’ Bakery Petites. Cake bites, mini brownies, and brownie thins aren’t new, but they also aren’t very common in the snack aisle. So it’s nice to see a big brand offer them. They use real vanilla and chocolate, and aren’t made using high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavor or colors, which I’m pretty sure is not the case with their popular treats. I guess they show that Hostess is capable of something more than convenience store chic.

Thanks to Impulsive Buy reader Carla for sending me all the varieties.

REVIEW: Hostess Chocolate Peanut Butter Twinkies

Hostess Chocolate Peanut Butter Twinkies

As a lifelong Hostess Cupcake devotee, when Chocolate Cake Twinkies hit the market earlier this year, my first response was “Stay in your lane, Twinkies!”

I just didn’t think this flavor swinger’s club was a good idea. The “golden” iterations of Cupcake were just Twinkie knockoffs to me. Any other flavor in the universe is fair game for either product, but chocolate belongs to Cupcake and vanilla is Twinkies, in my mind.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Twinkies has softened that stance just a bit.

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(I’m at my mother’s house – everything here is quilted. If I leave this Twinkie unattended, it will self-quilt.)

On opening the individually-wrapped cakes, the aroma that greeted me was all cocoa. Dark, rich cocoa. No peanut at all. Interesting, but it didn’t put me off.

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Next – the grease test. One Twinkie on a paper napkin for 15 minutes. I find modern Twinkies much oilier than when I was a child. Maybe they always left a shiny slick and I only notice it now as an adult who struggles to fit into the same pants I wore last year. But these Twinkies felt less greasy, and left a sheen so subtle my camera couldn’t capture it. Definitely a plus.

Like the scent, my first bite was 100 percent cocoa. It almost overwhelmed the peanut butter, which I picked up on increasingly with each bite. I was expecting the teeth-achingly-sweet peanut butter buttercream filling that seems to be the default recently, but Hostess got it right. There’s some sugar, but for the most part, they let the peanut butter be itself. PB is a perfect taste that doesn’t need a lot of window dressing, in my opinion. The texture here is closer to a fluffy frosting than the usual PB thickness.

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The cake was much better than I expected – a moist, velvety, deep chocolate. Very much like the Hostess Cupcakes I adore – which begged the question: why is this a Twinkie and not a Hostess Cupcake? With a big gob of filling in the center and slab of PB icing on top, the flavor may have taken more of a front seat than in the Twinkie. Or – why not this filling with the usual golden Twinkie cake? Have chocolate and peanut butter become so synonymous that we can’t partner them with other flavors?

Overall, I enjoyed these very much, and would buy them again, but might have been in rapturous love had it been a Hostess Cupcake. That’s just my cupcakes bias.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 260 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 10-pack box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Lovely not-too-sweet peanut butter filling. Hostess Cupcake-y cake. Less grease!
Cons: Why isn’t this a Hostess Cupcake? Needs a PB icing and squiggle.