In recent days, we've all heard about the looming demise of the Hostess snack cake company - which to further compound the Cupcake Cataclysm of 2012 also includes the Drake's brand. It's been less than a week since news broke of the company's shutdown - but in Lynnfield, there's already just a very, very small handful of Hostess and Drake's snack products left on any shelves, with no more in sight.
On Monday, I channeled my inner Woody Harrelson from "Zombieland" and took a ride to various businesseses in Lynnfield to see for myself whether there was a single Twinkie left on any store shelves in the area. The answer is a big "No." And I even stopped in at that Gulf Station on Route 1 on the Saugus line - where not a trace of anything Hostess remained, if it was ever there in the first place. I stopped in and inquired at The Christmas Tree Shop as well, figuring that a place where I once bought ghost chili salsa might have some cupcakes or Devil Dogs in the back. No Dice. "They'll be back you know," said one woman working there.
Back in Post Office Square, maybe about a half a dozen Hostess/Drake's products remained available at the Old Towne Market - most of it coffee cake.
Over on the other side of town, the trail started warming up. The Pump 'N Pantry near Essex Street had a pack of Ho-Hos, a pack of Ring Dings, and one fruit pie left.
Down the street, Center Market (see photo) had what appeared to be the largest remaining convenience store selection of Hostess/Drakes products in the area - it almost seemed incredible that they had a package of orange cupcakes left on the shelf. Too bad they weren't the even more uncommon and tasty strawberry variety.
In general, coffee cake seems to be the most common remaining Hostess item. That suggests it was the least popular - although maybe you just can't become a pop culture icon with a name like "coffee cake" when you're competing with things called "Yodels," Ding-Dongs" or "Twinkies." Other white elephant-type Hostess products appeared to be the little frosted Donettes, maybe the fruit pies - and very much, the Wonder Bread.
Honestly, I think the last sandwich I had with Wonder Bread might have been around the same time the original "Battlestar Galactica" was still on ABC. Fruit pies? For some reason I remember eating a lot of them as a college student. I think back then they accounted for most of my fruit and vegetable consumption or something. As far as the snack cakes go however - I wasn't going to bother picking anything up at first, but that 16-pack of Devil Dogs for just $3.99 at a store in my neighborhood, no sane snacker could resist. I didn't need that freezer space anyway.
As the editor of the nearby Wakefield Patch as well, I took the ride over to that town and continued my little inventory. The trend was similar - around these parts, nobody seems to want to buy the Last Hostess Coffee Cake On Earth, and the Donettes, fruit pies and Wonder Bread get soft interest as well (Pun intended).
In many of these stores, obscure little lesser-known snack cake rivals that offer vaguely Hostess-y looking products are also taking a higher profile, if only just to fill up supermarket end cap space. I think up until now, most stores had kept those other brands over by the batteries and charcoal or something, if anywhere. Except for the Little Debbie stuff - those products are technically tastier than anything made by Hostess, at something like a third the price. But I digress.
So there we have it. Some of these products have been around since the 1930s and were a favorite to generations of us - all lard and nuclear war jokes aside. But right now and in the space of less than a week or so, they're pretty much gone - even though most people do seem to expect the most popular products to be revived at some point, and some negotiations were reportedly set to get underway again Tuesday. But that's still a big "at some point," and it's overwhelmingly likely that some very familiar, if not iconic, products are permanently headed to that big belly up in the sky.