Hostess vs. Tastykake: And the Winner Is . . .

By now you know, and as the AP reported, “Hostess Brands Inc. says it’s going out of business after striking workers across the country crippled its ability to make its Twinkies, Ding Dongs and other snacks.” Many of you will doubtless miss these cream-filled confections, as well as Sno-Balls and the classic cupcake. Many of us baby boomers grew up ritualistically sucking cream from the center as a rite of passage—passage into the gym and the steam room.

But I was never a Hostess lover. Even to the untutored palette, the cupcake tasted machine-made. The perfectly flat frosting, sugary cream, and the cake itself felt like it was extruded. On the other hand, “fresh-baked” Tastykake, from Philadelphia, mostly an East Coast delicacy, with its soft swirly icing, tasted like they were really baked fresh! Maybe they weren’t sold fresh, but no matter. They had a great jingle too: “Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tastykake”—oh, how true. And they did that all the while baking 4.8 million cakes, doughnuts, cookies, and pies each day. In addition to Tastykake cakes and pies, there were butterscotch krimpets and coffee cakes that would make you swoon.

Like Hostess, however, the Tasty Baking Co. had to tighten its belt; in 2011, Yahoo News reported that the company’s grim financial status could result in a merger or even the sale of the company. (In 2011, Flowers Foods and Tasty Baking Co. commenced a cash-tender agreement). Likewise, CNN/Money reports that some of the iconic Hostess brands, such as Twinkies and Devil Dogs, will survive, because other companies will buy the “intellectual rights” to those brands at liquidation. Whew!!!

But not all the news is so tasty. The tragic consequence of this closure is not all the bereft people who are currently hoarding their favorite brand, but the 18,000 Hostess workers who are losing their jobs.


10 thoughts on “Hostess vs. Tastykake: And the Winner Is . . .

  1. Paper Acrobat

    Strangely enough sales of American cakes in the UK is on the increase! We have Krispy Kreme and Cupcake shops springing up all over the place. We are a bit late to the party I think but the recession is hitting hard in many other retail sectors. I hate to see people losing their jobs. These are tough times indeed.

  2. ShadyKay

    The Mallinkrodt Chemical Co. used to make the filling for Hostess Twinkies. Used to deliver it in those big stainless tanker trucks. I’m a TastyKake girl.

  3. RWordplay

    I will argue that taste was never the issue, particularly for those of us who grew up and Drake’s Cake—Ring Dings, Devil Dogs and Ding Dong. It is the idea of delicious and also one’s idealization of his/her past, which is to say,the ingredients and preparation are really beside the point.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve enjoyed peeling the soft asphalt “chocolate’ frosting off a Hostess cupcake and consuming it in a single bite, more than any “master chef’s” vanity desserts, prepared with the most pure and natural ingredients. I am unfamiliar with TastyKake, but I suspect one’s pleasure in their products had more to to with the idea of a treat than its actual taste.. Finally, I also contend that anyone who can’t appreciate the charms of Hostess products is also incapable of enjoying a chocolate truffle from La Maison du Chocolat.

  4. DMcCunney

    I grew up in Philadelphia, and am a TastyKake fan, with a fondness for butterscotch Krimpets and peanut butter TandyTakes.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever knowingly eaten a Hostess product, and wouldn’t want to.

    And from the samples Steven posted, TastyKake wins on design, too.

    We are likely to see Twinkies et al on the market again. Someone else is likely to buy the brands and continue production, so those hoarding Twinkies need but wait.

    @Mona: There’s a lot of discussion elsewhere about Hostess folding. There’s lots of blame that can be assigned to management, but the last straw was union error. The Teamsters, who have historically been militant, looked at the numbers and accepted the Hostess deal, as they concluded the alternative was no jobs at all. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) weren’t grounded in reality, and struck. Hostess wasn’t strong enough to weather a strike, and folded rather than try. The union apparently didn’t believe they would do that and found out the hard way they were wrong.

    Commercial baking is plagued by overcapacity and consolidation like that between Flower Foods and Tasty is inevitable. Ultimately, snack foods are commodities, with commodity pricing and razor thin margins, and everyone looks for economies of scale. I suspect we’ll see more cases of outfits like Hostess either being bought up or folding.

  5. mona

    I don’t understand how the union could ask for more money from a company that is in chapter 11?
    Did they just make the bakers union make a losing bet? Then what they accomplished is that everyone lost their jobs.
    Great work!

  6. Bob Davidson

    TastyKake wins hands down. No comparison to the chemical-laden Hostess line. I still remember in the 1960’s when TastyKake was a sponsor on all Phillies game and announcers would end an inning by making a letter “T” with their hands and proclaiming “It’s time to take a Tasty Break with TastyKake!”. Amazing what one can remember.

  7. Jim

    To be picky, it is 18,500 job plus the jobs that will be lost by those working as Hostess suppliers and may also effect jobs for those providing office supplies and the like. Who knows what the imp[act may be – perhaps 20,000 plus jobs. It is sad see America disintegrate right before my eyes.

  8. Siebert Tenseven

    When ITT bought Hostess back in the 80s it was such a bizarre acquisition that I appeared on the front page of the company newsletter called the “Centerline” with cross slices of Twinkies for eyes, biting into a Twinkie. OK… it was difficult coming up with an interesting image to accompany the article. Who knows who will buy Hostess this time? BTW: Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets beat Twinkies hands down, and their pies come baked in a metal pan like a REAL pie.