A Case of the Munchies copy20130716_075518In November 2012, the United States had to say goodbye to an veritable institution as Interstate Bakeries finally succumbed to bankruptcy after many years of labor disputes and management problems.

Interstate Bakeries was the manufacturer of two major staples of the American diet for many decades… Wonder… and Hostess.  It was because of this bankruptcy that Twinkies disappeared from US shelves… possibly never to return.  As the weeks turned into months, many possible suitors came and went for Hostess as  Twinkie-lovers were left on the sidelines wondering if they would ever taste these delicious snacks again.  Boxes were sold online for exorbitant amounts as we were all turned into Woody Harrelson’s character from “Zombieland”, searching for what may be the last box of Twinkies on Earth.

Earlier this year, however, like a phoenix from the ashes… Hostess Brands was brought back to life with the help of companies Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropoulos and Company.  With the resurrection of the brand came the promise that Twinkies would return.  And, true to their word, Hostess Twinkies hit supermarket shelves earlier this month.  I got my hands on my first box on July 12… and I am here to tell you that I couldn’t be happier.

Over the years, I have spent many hours looking for a Twinkie substitute… after all, it has been rumored for some time that Hostess might go away, and I needed to make sure I could get by.  Among the worst I had ever sampled were the Tastykake Dreamies and the Little Debbie Cloud Cakes.  The Dreamies were surprisingly dry and had a bit of a chemical aftertaste that went with them — both surprising from the makers of one of my favorite snack foods… the Kandy Kakes.  The Cloud Cakes were just a complete mess.  Entenmann’s was probably the best with their Cream-Filled Sponge Cake.  It was everything you could hope for from Entenmann’s.  The flavor and texture almost redefines the snack cake that they were emulating by giving it an almost home-cooked flavor which Hostess never even tried to achieve.

20130716_075505But all of these versions and so many more could never replace the original Twinkie that we’ve all come to know and love.  And it is with that in mind that I was confronted with the question of whether or not a new Hostess company would mess with the original formula that we have come to cherish.  Would we get a New Twinkie akin to the disastrous New Coke of the 80’s?

20130716_075531To add insult to injury, Hostess Brands also announced that Twinkies would be revived with a longer shelf life due to the addition of freezing the snacks during transport.  As it turns out, this process had been discussed by the folks at Interstate Bakeries before they declared bankruptcy, but it was not put into wholesale effect.  Overall, this is not exactly a big selling point, but in point of fact, a turnoff.  Twinkies have long been rumored to have shelf lives that number in decades, if not centuries — despite what the SELL BY dates on the boxes would lead you to believe.  I have, however, had the displeasure of trying a stale Twinkie and wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

Back to the question at hand… what are the new Twinkies like?

20130721_140736THE LOOK – Despite the look of the Twinkie on the box, the Twinkies themselves have undergone a slight cosmetic change.  Essentially, they’ve gotten a tan.  Whether this was just my box of Twinkies or if this is simply a byproduct of a newer baking process, the spongecake of the Twinkie now has a slightly more-textured, golden brown look.  Honestly, I approve of it.  What I do find rather distressing is the increase in oils on the Twinkie itself.  You can’t touch the Twinkie without getting a greasy residue on your fingers.  This was present in later iterations of Twinkies even back when Interstate was in charge, but now it seems even MORE apparent.  20130721_140751Once again (and this was a bugaboo with me for a while) Twinkies still have the crust on the bottom.  A few years ago, the crust would come off when you opened the package and removed the Twinkie.  In recent years, Hostess fixed the problem and the crust remains intact.

The typical three holes are still at the bottom of the Twinkie, and when you tear it open, you get the same creamy filling we’ve come to expect.

THE TASTE – The first thing you notice when you bite into a Twinkie is how much you missed the taste.  And in my experience, how much the flavors of those other imitation snacks just completely fail to capture the taste sensation of an authentic Twinkie.  20130721_140817Any changes that were made to the baking process are subtle enough to not affect the flavor, though it does affect one thing… the cream.  Perhaps it is my imagination, but the cream seems lighter than it used to be.  It’s certainly well-whipped… leading it to have very little physical presence inside the snack.  In fact, when biting in, you’re almost not aware of the cream physically, though this might also be a result of the oiliness of the sponge cake itself.  These are textural issues that don’t really detract from the overall Twinkie experience.

20130716_075557The box boasts that this is “The Sweetest Comeback In The History Of Ever” and I couldn’t agree more.  Having Twinkies back is like seeing an old friend return who you had thought lost forever.  Unfortunately there has been no word yet on the return of Chocodiles (Hostess-made chocolate-covered Twinkies).  Since they were an INCREDIBLY regional delicacy it is unclear if they will be back.  I will just have to keep an eye on FreshChocodiles.com for the latest word. In the meantime, go pick up a box of Hostess Twinkies… and say “hello” to an old friend.