Eagle Archive: Where were you when Twinkie the Kid and Captain Cupcake died?

November 21, 2012, was a sad day.

As many were looking forward to sharing Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family; Hostess Brands, the makers of Twinkies, Wonder Bread, Ding Dongs and many other culinary delights high in the food pyramid, announced it was closing its 85-year old business.

The Hostess Brands website did not mince words, "Hostess Brands is Closed. We are sorry to announce that Hostess Brands, Inc. has been forced by a Bakers Union strike to shut down all operations and sell all company assets.

"Thank you for all of your loyalty and support over the years. …The wind down means the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes, 570 bakery outlet stores and the loss of 18,500 jobs."

If such treats as Suzy Q's, Dolly Madison Zingers and HoHos are not a critical part of your childhood, then certainly you remember the holy trinity of spokespersons for Hostess: Captain Cupcake, Fruit Pie the Magician and Twinkie the Kid.

Certainly many of the 30 Hostess products are a strong childhood memory for many Carroll Countians. As soon as the news that an expiration date had finally been determined for the Twinkies family, the Eagle Archives crisis lines lit-up with inquiries as whether or not it was true that Dolly Madison and Twinkie the Kid were no longer with us.

Others wanted to pass along the history of the fabled snack foods to their children, and be able to answer the inevitable questions from grandchildren, "Where were you when Twinkie died?"

According to the Washington Post, even fabled political columnist George Will was moved to write, "Never underestimate baby-boomer nostalgia, which is acute narcissism. ... The Twinkies melodrama has the boomers thinking — as usual, about themselves."

Actually, much to my surprise, none of my large collection of Carroll County history books has any reference to any of the Hostess Brand of snack foods.

The Wall Street Journal does tell us that Twinkies did not arrive in America with the pilgrims. Rather, the paper notes that the origins of the Twinkie dates back to 1930: "James A. Dewar was a manager of a Chicago-area Continental Baking Co. plant in 1930, when he got the idea of injecting cakes with cream filing. He said he came up with the name for his invention when he saw a billboard in St. Louis for "Twinkle Toe Shoes."

"Dewar started his career driving a horse-drawn pound cake wagon and retired in 1972 with the unofficial title of 'Mr. Twinkie.' He died in 1985, at the age of 88."

Meanwhile, to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of Hostess Twinkies have been greatly exaggerated — at least we hope. The brand is sure to be purchased during the liquidation process and live on to another day. Does that make it a zombie Twinkie? I'm just saying.

When he is not in mourning, rummaging through the pantry looking for the last Zinger in the house, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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