The Hostess With The Mostess

29 Jul

Greetings from Brooklyn. I have just one more week in New York and then I’m off to Kentucky to visit my family for a few days before I head out on the road again to open Peter and the Starcatcher in Denver, Colorado. Not much has really happened since I wrote last, but I never seem to be able to find the time or the energy to write. That’ll change again once I’m back on the road.

One thing that has happened, though, is the return of my friend, the Twinkie! Well…perhaps frenemy is a better term. I know Hostess Bakeries took a beating when they decided to close down production back in November due to their filing bankruptcy. Many people said it was one of the best things to ever happen to the American diet and, while I agree that Twinkies and Ho Hos, Ding Dongs and Fruit Pies aren’t good for you, I was sad to see them go and I’m even happier to see them coming back.

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Twinkie The Kid

As a child, I grew up in a very tight-knit family – particularly on my Mother’s side. My maternal grandmother had 8 brothers and sisters – there were a couple more who died at birth or as infants – and so we would have huge family gatherings for all the major holidays. So large, in fact, that the family would have to rent out a rec center or hall for Thanksgiving and all the sisters would work together to cook. There would easily be 125 people at any giving holiday gathering with all the cousins and second cousins around. I’m guessing it wasn’t much fun for the adults. For a kid, it was heaven. For a fat kid…?! Forget it!!

Growing up in what I consider the South, my people know how to cook and eat. My grandparents always had a garden in their backyard when I was growing up, so we would have fresh green beans and potatoes and corn that, much to my chagrin, we would have to go out and pick or dig up for dinner. We spent hours during the summer snapping green beans, steaming and peeling tomatoes or shucking corn, preparing them to be “put up,” or canned. Looking back on it, it was a good time and I think if I’d been a little older, I might have appreciated the time I got to spend with my grandparents, but back then it was a chore. My Popaw was a construction contractor and he drove a big pickup truck that had a phone in it (that was a really big deal in the early 80’s) and I really enjoyed going to work with him, mostly because we’d end up eating all day.

I remember going to work with him once and we went to a greasy spoon for lunch. I don’t remember what I ate exactly, but I know there was a bowl of chili involved and, unfortunately, it made a reappearance on the floorboard of his pickup before we got home. Sorry, Popaw. I also remember, though, that he always had a drawer full of treats waiting for me (at least I thought they were all for me) at their house, and that was usually the first place my brother and I would go as soon as we walked in the door. After we took our shoes off. No shoes in the house. Ever!!

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OK. So my grandmother wasn’t quite this extreme, but shoes are still not allowed in her house.


Oh, that glorious bottom drawer, just next to the kitchen sink, where one could find paper towels with which to wipe away the evidence of a recently eaten Ding Dong or Ho-Ho. The sound of that silver foil wrapping as you peeled it away to find that firm, chocolatey hockey puck filled with cream. The look on Twinkie the Kid’s face on the box of spongey cakes that were meant to be eaten in pairs, so you had to have a second one. That drawer was heaven. It was filled with every Hostess snack cake you could imagine and more! Hostess, Little Debbie, Keebler: You name it, it was there, and it was mine! Grandmama would try to tell me, “Only one!,” but I never listened, eating as many as I liked with the childish logic that they would never notice how many were missing as long as the box had already been opened when I got there. That was my rule: Never open a brand new box…otherwise they’d know.

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Kraft Pineapple Spread

Popaw also used to keep Kraft pineapple cream cheese spread in the fridge. It came in little glass jars with screw-on lids, and once all the sweet, delicious cream cheese spread had been eaten on the Ritz crackers that also lived in the magic drawer, my grandparents would wash out the jars and keep them for me to use as a kid-sized drinking glass. I thought that was pretty cool. And they kept dozens of them. They used them for juice glasses, as well. My grandparents: Recycling before recycling was cool. Who knew?

So yes, I am very happy that the Twinkie has returned. It brings back fond memories of my childhood, rummaging through that drawer when I thought everyone was napping in the den, back when my Popaw could stand up straight and walk without a limp; when he could slather some pineapple spread onto a cracker without his hands shaking; when he would drive that pickup truck at the actual speed limit because he could see and hear properly; when we would go “Dairy Dipping” at the local Dairy Queen. The return of the Twinkie makes me feel young again…makes me feel a little safer. Maybe that’s part of why I go to food as an emotional release, but that’s another entry for another day…

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3 Responses to “The Hostess With The Mostess”

  1. Farin July 30, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    My grandparents had a “secret drawer” too, but because we’re Northerners, it was full of Drake’s cakes. Yodels and Ring Dings, FTW!

  2. Amy Launius August 2, 2013 at 7:17 am #

    My grandma and grandpa had a candy dish (which is now mine) and a cookie jar which cannot be found. I think someone else has it and just won’t admit it. It was glass with a metal lid and I loved the sound it made when you put the lid on.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bad News. The Fog Is Getting Thicker. And Leon’s Getting Laaaaarger! | Confessions of a Merch Whore - April 12, 2014

    […] years, my Popaw kept a drawer full of Hostess snack cakes, which was usually the first place my brother and I would go when we got to their house. I never […]

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