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: 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 Twinkies Frozen Dairy Dessert Cone

Hostess Twinkies Frozen Dairy Dessert Cone

Earlier this year Hostess turned their iconic crinkle-wrapped sponge cake into an ice cream. As good as that was, let’s be honest, it needed a bowl AND a spoon, which is so much more effort than snack cake annihilation should require.

Suffer no more America, we now have before us the Twinkies Frozen Dairy Dessert Cone. No utensils, no dishwashing, and hell, if you play your cards right you could even use the wrapper as a napkin to get the creamy fiesta off of your face. This latest and greatest piece of American innovation combines golden sponge cake crumbles and creamy frozen dairy dessert all packaged in the classic ready-to-devour sugar cone.

Hostess Twinkies Frozen Dairy Dessert Cone 4

The initial bites are delicious and very reminiscent of the Twinkie ice cream tub that was decked out with sponge cake pieces swimming in a pool of creamy, almost greasy cake ice cream. The top of the cone is the only part of the dessert that has the cake, which imparts not only added texture but a bunch more flavor as well. The cake combined with the fluffy yellow “ice cream” is fun and very much like eating the much loved (or hated) snack cake.

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Beneath the initial layer of yellow fluff is a layer of white fluff, which is noticeably less flavorful and exciting than the way the cone started. It’s hard to tell if the lack of flavor is due to a different profile within the cream itself or the absence of cake, but it’s no less much less intriguing to the tongue.

The next layer is yellow, but it coincides with the top of the cone which also has a thin layer of chocolate inside. So there’s an extra crunch and chocolate flavor that accompanies the frozen dairy, which makes it a more exciting chew. And, like all good Nestle cones, this one finishes with a piece of chocolate wedged in the bottom, which puts an exclamation mark of “YUM” on the very last bite.

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This cone is good. From top to bottom it’s fluffy, sweet, and whimsical like something from an ice cream truck, albeit not the highest quality. The use of frozen dairy as opposed to real ice cream gives it a much lighter feel, both in your hand and on the palate than the usual Drumstick. It also makes scarfing more than one of these a pretty reasonable task.

Hopefully, Hostess can figure out how to put the Twinkie into pill form so I can just sit back, relax, and pop them ‘twinks on the low.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cone – 220 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 4-pack
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: No need for utensils. Instant ice cream injection. Fun sponge cake pieces. Chocolate at the bottom of the cone.
Cons: White frozen dairy may lack flavor. Needs more cake pieces.

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: Limited Edition Hostess Twinkies Ice Cream

Limited Edition Hostess Twinkies Ice Cream

Just in time for me dusting off the last of my White Peppermint Twinkies, Hostess is breaking down the freezer aisle doors with Limited Edition Twinkies Ice Cream. Combining a sweet butter cream ice cream with sponge cake pieces and a frosting swirl, the chubby 12-year-old in me can hardly contain his excitement.

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It should go without saying that this isn’t a super premium ice cream, but it isn’t a “diet” ice cream either, and the lower fat, higher air ratio here actually works to convey the desired flavors well. It scoops effortlessly, folding over on itself and exposing wonderful ripples of aggressively churned dairy. The base flavor is rich and buttery with caramel notes that hint towards the golden outside of Hostess’ sponge cake.

Limited Edition Hostess Twinkies Ice Cream 3

Texturally what it lacks in decadent density it makes up for with a light and fluffy whipped presence that melts with ease and reminds me of Twinkie creme. The frosting swirl is more predominantly mixed in with the base than standing out on its own, but when eating you can taste two distinct flavors. Some bites are pure sweet butter cream ice cream and others pop with a creme filling frosting surprise that is a touch greasy and extra sweet.

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The sponge pieces are perfect. Although not huge, they are pretty evenly sprinkled throughout and make their way pleasantly into every couple of bites. They’ve held their shape well and are chewy like cake that has been served on a plate with ice cream that has melted its way onto the slice. The texture is spot on Twinkie, with the exception that there’s no risk of them being dry because they’re drowning in deliciously sweet ice cream instead of sitting for an unknown amount of time in a cellophane wrapper.

Overall this is an extremely well-executed ice cream version of eating a Twinkie. The buttery, slightly greasy mouthfeel and melty creamy textures all harken back to the experience of eating the classic Hostess cake – but perhaps even better.

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It’s no secret that eating Twinkies can be extremely hit or miss, and this ice cream takes care of the quality issues that can happen when you buy cake at a gas station. It’s not going to flip the gourmet ice cream universe on its head, but it’s fun and tasty, and for what it is, it’s pretty damn good.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup (65g) – 160 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams sat fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 1.5 qts
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Nice buttery sweet base with caramel notes. Tastes just like a Twinkie put into a blender. Tasty sponge cake, no risk of dryness.
Cons: A Twinkie ice cream that tastes better than an actual Twinkie = high risk of overdose.