Twinkies return on a wave of nostalgia

Twinkies make a sweet return to supermarket shelves in July, pitting them against Watermelon Oreos in what's shaping up to be a summer of one-upmanship in the packaged dessert business.

Hostess Brands/AP/File
Twinkies will be back on shelves starting next month after its predecessor company went bankrupt after an acrimonious fight with unions last year. The brands have since been purchased y Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management.

You really didn't think Twinkies were going away forever, did you? Despite the massive meltdown and realignment of its parent company the indestructible Twinkies have bobbed to the surface once more. And Hostess is crowing about it.

Twinkies will return to supermarket shelves July 15 unscathed and bearing a new badge of honor on its box: "The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever." The hot-dog shaped gold pound cake filled with sugary white cream filling has become such a treasured American icon in lunchboxes that it has succeed in swaying an investment company to write a check for literally millions of dollars. While Twinkies and its Hostess cakes friends appear to have been saved by Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo for a cool $410 million, the fact of the matter is that Twinkies really saved themselves.

In 2006, to celebrate its 75th (!) anniversary, Hostess released a cookbook filled with Twinkies recipes submitted by Twinkies fans – not how to make Twinkies, but what to do with them. Think "Twinkie Sushi," "Fried Twinkies with Chocolate Sauce," "Twinkie Orange Barvarian Dream," and so on. (This cookbook is still available on amazon.com, if you want to check it out.)

"Perhaps it's the nostalgia. From comic books to the silver screen, state fairs to science projects, legal legends to urban legends, artifacts to art exhibits, Howdy Doody to Archie Bunker – Twinkies have been baked into our national pop culture for generations," muses the introduction to "The Twinkie Cookbook: An inventive and unexpected recipe collection."  "Who would have thought a simple confection of sponge cake and crème filling could become a national icon?"

Indeed. We haven't even gotten to the recipes yet, but Hostess really lays it on thick.

"Have you tasted one lately? They're incredibly good. If it's been awhile, your first bite will undoubtedly be even sweeter than you remember. Diet mavens may balk, but at 150 calories per Twinkie, you could do a lot worse these days. Whatever the root of their appeal, Twinkies sparkle with an undeniable magic – a star that seems to shine brighter with age."

There you have it. Hostess admits that Twinkies has been injected with some kind of spell that enables it to survive a whole foods revolution, a diet-foods craze, and two large-scale economic meltdowns. Born in the 1930s, Twinkie creator James Dewar was simply looking for a use for poundcake that would appeal to frugal shoppers once fresh strawberries were out of season. The first Twinkies were injected with a banana filling, since bananas were available year-round. The two-for-a-nickle treats were an instant hit.

"We could hardly keep up with the demand," Margaret Branco, an original Twinkie stuffer told the St. Louis Dispatch. "You'd think people had nothing to do but eat Twinkies. They sold like hotcakes."

Dewar himself admitted to eating at least three a day for 50 years. He lived to be 88.

With its recipe of sweet nostalgia filled with sugary magic Twinkies has the stuffing to make it to its 100th anniversary and beyond. "The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever" shows no signs of letting up.

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