At times like these, it's good to have friends. Within minutes of the news of Hostess's closing, I had two new e-mails in my inbox, consoling me. I don't own stock, nor do I know anyone personally who will be affected by the shuttering of the once and future king of snack cakes. Still, eighteen thousand people will lose their jobs, and that's nothing to sneeze at. Even if you're not allergic to chocolate.
I bring up this last piece of information because many of my favorite Hostess confections are conveyances for chocolate. Not the least of these are the little donuts, covered with that brown waxy coating that required a large glass of orange juice to dissipate its hold on one's teeth. That was the rationalization for eating these "Donettes." At least I was getting my RDA of vitamin C along with whatever else might be in the donuts.
I had no such illusions about Chocodiles. These tasty treats passed the Twinkie on the left by coating that golden sponge cake with creamy filling inside with that same "frosting" that covered the Donettes. My fondest memory of Chocodiles comes from a time when my older brother came to visit me while I was working at a video store. The day shift was notoriously slow, but I was required to sit behind the counter and catch up on tasks such as duplicating customer's personal VHS tapes of their children's birthdays or other tedious family gatherings. My brother stopped by and asked if there was anything he could do to help make the time pass. "How about a snack?" He popped out the door, across the parking lot to the convenience store, and returned with a bottle of Jolt Cola, and an assortment of Hostess products, the most prized among them was the elusive Chocodile. This gesture was one I never forgot. It had echoes back to our childhood, when we used to ensure that we would never steal one another's dessert by removing the foil wrapper and licking the entire surface of the chocolate hockey puck. My apologies for this image to any of you who grew up without siblings. Or if your siblings were more well-behaved than we were.
And finally, the Twinkie. For years, I had heard the stories about how this signature snack cake had a shelf life of more than twenty years. Some said that they would outlive the cockroaches and in the event of nuclear war, they might be used for bartering purposes. This quandary led to Bobcat Goldthwait's musing: "If you ate a Twinkie that was 20 years and
one day old, would you go...'Hey, does this taste funny to you?'" This, in turn, caused me to secure a Twinkie and place it deep in the recesses of my mother's refrigerator. I knew that the refrigeration might have unforeseen impacts on the experiment, but I was committed to holding on to that Twinkie until it was certified as twenty years and one day old. And I was going to take a bite of that Twinkie. Just to see.
I should mention, at this point, that I was not living at my mother's home at the time of this scientific endeavor. I just figured a Twinkie would be safer in her house than mine, and whenever I was over, I made a point to check on it, however briefly. Then I made the momentous decision to move to California. When I decided to grow up and move away, I left childish things behind. Like that Twinkie. But my mother, ever the good sport, kept it, and eventually she moved to a smaller place. This meant clearing out her refrigerator, since the townhouse into which she was moving already had one. It was my older brother who, with some insistence, moved that Twinkie to its new home at the back of my mother's new refrigerator. That was my older brother, keeping the dream alive.
When I returned for a visit, I was regaled with the stories of the move, and how my little piece of Historic Hostess was lovingly cared for. At this point, it became clear that the joke was becoming strained, and a brief examination of the Twinkie let me know that an additional decade wouldn't bring it any closer to appearing tasty. It had retained its color, but the size and rigidity had been altered over time. I gave my mother permission to set it free, along with the ten cubic inches of refrigerator space that was relieved to have real food in it once again.
Add to all of this the fascination my new little family has grown with frozen Ho-Hos, and you can understand that even in this more health conscious age, the liquidation of Hostess comes as sad news. Then again, the idea of liquified Chocodiles seems awfully yummy to me right about now.