Friday, May 9, 2008

Hostess or Tastycake: which do you prefer?

I'm on a diet, which means I'm thinking about food more than usual, especially desserts. For the record, I've lost more than four pounds.

Anyway, the other day I was in Target looking for Splenda, so hungry that I wanted to mainline high-fructose corn syrup. I saw a box of "100 calorie" packs of Hostess chocolate cupcakes on sale, and I pounced on it like a starving lioness. One-hundred calorie three packs of cupcakes! Oh yes.

As soon as I got into my car, I tore open that box. I felt a twist of guilt as I thought of all the truly starving people around the world, but that didn't stop me. I pulled out a three pack. A row of miniature chocolate frosted cupcakes sat on a thin piece of white "cardboard covered with clear plastic. They looked bite size, and for a moment I was disappointed. But not for long. Each little cupcake was a taste of heaven --and more than one bite. They were classic Hostess decadence--dense black chocolate with white cream in the center and chocolate frosting on top. The three little gems were more than satisfying.

The experience caused me to reminisce on a lifetime of Hostess and Tastycake eating.

I remember how, as a very young child, I loved the Hostess pink snowballs with the black chocolate and whipped cream inside. Even at three I knew they were decadent, though I didn't know the word. I have wonderful early childhood memories around the pink snowballs and also the chocolate cupcakes with the ripple of white frosting down the center. ... Memories of Hostess connect in my mind with an early childhood spent in Edmondson Village in Baltimore. Those were the days. I was innocent and never had the least worry about weight back then.

Of course, I was also a fan of Tastycakes, which you can't (or couldn't) get on the West coast, to my horror. They had better cupcake texture, spongier and lighter, but could never compete with Hostess for size and sheer decadence.

The new bite size cupcakes manage, to my mind, to preserve the wretched excess, the trademark decadence, of a Hostess product. A difference is the sticky, glistening moistness of the chocolate topping, not a classic Hostess trait.

Roger says he never liked the pink snowballs, preferring Twinkies. Twinkies were not my favorites. Today, I'm not sure I would like the snowballs.

Roger and I discussed the architectural nature of Hostess products: the marshmallow coating on the snowballs that could be peeled away, whole, to leave a perfect half-circle of black chocolate with white cream inside; the white braids on the chocolate cupcake that could be peeled off; the hard, almost wax-like circles of chocolate you could remove whole from the cake. The unnatural darkness of the chocolate.

Tastycakes were always smaller than Hostess products, daintier, more restrained, more neutrally colored. The three demure cupcakes in a Tastycake package could never compete with two giantesses in a Hostess pack. Peanut butter candycakes, while delicious, were, well ... small.

I could ramble on endlessly but I'll stop. What do you prefer: Tastycake or Hostess?

1 comment:

Chris Quinn said...

Saw the post,and thought it was cool. I'm trying to find out which is better myself at take a look. It's a 32 field snack cake tournament, including regions, seedings, etc. Oh, and the best part is that people will be able to fill in and submit their own bracket online. Winner takes home the full field of 32.

Should be a good time.