This is the first and only Hostess card that I ever obtained by eating a package of Hostess Twinkies. It came off a panel from a box that was at my grandmother's house in 1977. I couldn't tell you who the other two players were on the panel. They instantly disappeared when the Lopes card came into view.
Outside of that one moment, I never knew the double-sided joy of empty calories and flimsy trading cards. Hostess was off-limits in my family. It wasn't like it was a rule posted on the kitchen wall. They just never made it into the house.
We did find Hostess for sale at the school cafeteria snack table at lunch time. And when I heard last week that Hostess was closing its doors forever, my first thought was "what are the schools going to sell kids for dessert now?"
Those were the only school desserts that I knew: various kinds of ice cream and Hostess products. We never knew TastyKake. And Little Debbie? That was for kids with mismatched shoes who lived in trailers (I was such a judgmental kid). Hostess was above that. Hostess was cool! They had Peanuts characters working for them and they made BASEBALL CARDS!
As a tribute to those wonderful years between 1975-1979 when Hostess came out with a set of baseball cards every year, I thought I'd rank each of the Hostess sets.
But then I looked at them and, well, there isn't much difference between them.
The 1978 set, which you see here, and the 1979 set are essentially the same. The 1979 set put the information that you see at the bottom of this card on the top, with all the same colors and positioning.
The initial set, in 1975, is just as simplistic as the '78 and '79 sets. If you like no-frills, Hostess was for you (it probably figured you were so buzzed from sugar, anything would look exciting).
The 1977 set threw a bit of a curve and would be the most dynamic of the Hostess sets (the 1993 Hostess set excluded, of course), if it weren't for the 1976 set:
Gee, I miss the bicentennial. Everything on earth was red, white and blue in a U.S. flag pattern.
But that's as wild and crazy as Hostess got.
Which means I can't exactly do a countdown of Hostess cards. What's the point?
But I CAN do a countdown of my favorite Hostess snacks.
This is food I never eat anymore. In fact, I had given up stuff like this long before my health mandated it. About a year or so ago, I tried a Twinkie for the first time in decades. And it tasted awful (as kids, we would notice that every once in awhile you could bite into a Twinkie and get a whiff of something that smelled almost like gasoline. Anybody else experience that? No? Well, it was enough to convince us that we probably weren't eating actual food).
Twinkies were never my favorite of the Hostess snacks and they always received too much publicity. But there were definite favorites of mine and that's what you're going to see here. I'm going to reveal my top five Hostess snacks.
May they rest in peace (and, no, I'm not buying any of them off ebay).
5. Sno Balls.
(Who is putting these things on a plate?)
I would only buy Sno Balls in the cafeteria if there was nothing else. No other Hostess. No ice cream. Nothing. They were kind of weird and bouncy, and being teenage boys, you couldn't bring these things back to your table without people making comments about breasts. It was all very uncomfortable. But they tasted nice and marshmellow-like-ish. ... Sort of.
4. Ding Dongs.
OK, I probably didn't really have any Ding Dongs, no matter what I said here. But I did have plenty of Ring Dings, which was Drake's equivalent of Ding Dongs. It was all the same, and Hostess eventually consumed Drake's anyway. I LOVED Ring Dings/Ding Dongs. It was my preferred dessert cake for a period.
3. Raspberry Zingers.
They have been referred to as "Twinkies on Steroids," and I always considered them the "most sophisticated snack cake," if fake red icing can actually be sophisticated. This was probably as close to Entenmann's as Hostess got.
Some people probably don't like these because of the coconut, but I used to buy them out the vending machine periodically at work and they were still great. Chocolate Zingers were tremendous, too, but Hostess didn't get more exotic than raspberry Zingers.
2. Orange-Flavored Cup Cakes.
Hostess' Chocolate Cup Cakes weren't good enough for me. I had to gravitate to the sickly orange-yellow cakes. These pop up in the vending machine at work all the time, and I was powerless to their bright shiny fake orange mating call. The guilt that would wash over me as I put my money into the vending machine was only superseded by the joy obtained from those orangyish cakes.
1. Ho Hos.
Ho Hos is the best Hostess snack-cake BY FAR. Don't throw that Yodel crap at me or those knock-off Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls. HO HOS ARE THE BEST EVAR!!!
How do I know? Because I have come across several people in my life who have confessed to eating an entire box of Ho Hos in one sitting, with no after effects. I knew a girl, a good friend of mine, who did this. And she was as skinny as they come. I am grateful that these have never made it into my house, because I could easily be 600 pounds with Ho Hos in regular rotation.
I was reading the article about Hostess going under and the reasons why, and I kept coming back to a sentence that said that people had just moved on to different kinds of snack desserts, and I thought "what else is there besides Hostess? What?"
Obviously they're eating something. I've seen people.
I guess I'm just out of the loop because I've cut myself off from all that stuff (true fact: I had a brownie at dinner last night. It was the first brownie I had eaten in eight months. I looked at it like it was going to smite me dead).
Hostess was just another example of why it was great to be a kid back in the '70s. Unfortunately, it's also just another example of how we can never go back to that time again.
On the good side, I can still keep on obtaining Hostess cards -- without gaining 600 pounds in the process.