Ding Dongs, the company is dead, the big bad debt-choked company is dead.
After 82 years in business, Hostess Brands, makers of iconic sugar-laden packaged snacks like Twinkies, Ho Hos, Dolly Madison fruit pies, Snowballs, and the aforementioned Ding Dongs, as well as that texture-free staple of picky children everywhere, Wonder Bread, is no more. The company announced today that it was closing immediately and completely, and would be selling off its brands and remaining assets in bankruptcy proceedings. On the Hostess website, the company rather nastily blamed a current strike and demands by the baker's union for "crippling" Hostess and delivering the final nail in the company coffin. The union claims gross mismanagement by Hostess bigwigs (this is the second bankruptcy for Hostess in ten years) even after 100 million dollars in labor concessions at the bargaining table. The bottom line: 18K+ folks are out of work now, and Hostess will try to find someone to flog their nostalgic but irrelevant food to a more health-conscious public. After all, sure, I loved Hostess products when I was a kid, but I have never once fed them to my own kids, and I think that's really what the problem is -- changing times, changing tastes.
Anyway, Hostess may or may not resurrect again sometime, but in the meantime I can come to the rescue, via my mom! She makes her own "homemade Twinkies" that are SO SO SO SO much better than the packaged ones that if you miss them on the store shelves, try making this, and then you are SET FOR LIFE. They won't be in that little handheld tube shape, true, but you gotta give up something for freshness. Please to enjoy!
Mom’s Homemade "Twinkies"
1 box yellow cake mix*
Grease a 9” x 13” baking pan and then line with greased and lightly floured wax paper. The wax paper should extend up 1” over all sides of pan, to assist in lifting the cake from the pan once cooked and cooled.
Prepare cake mix as directed on the box in large bowl with eggs and vegetable oil. Pour batter into greased and lined pan. Bake according to box, remove from oven, and cool completely.
While cake is baking, prepare cake filling. Bring 1 cup milk and 5 level tbsps. of flour to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring constantly with a whisk to avoid lumps. Turn off burner after it comes to a boil and stir constantly while still on the burner until mixture is thickened and smooth. Cool completely in refrigerator. In large mixing bowl, cream 1 cup sugar, ½ cup stick butter (softened), ½ cup shortening, ½ tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract with a mixer. Add cooled milk and flour mixture to creamed ingredients and beat until white and fluffy.
Carefully flip cooled cake pan upside-down on large cookie sheet and slowly remove the wax paper from cake and pan. Make extra sure cake is completely cooled before cutting!
Slowly cut the cake in half lengthwise (try using a bread knife). Slip the top layer to a second cookie sheet, supporting the layer very carefully from underneath with both hands to avoid breakage.
Evenly spread the cake filing onto bottom layer of halved cake using knife or spatula. Gently slide top layer of cake over and onto cake filling. Refrigerate several hours before cutting into Twinkie size bars and serving.
(You may cut individual slices, wrap with foil or saran wrap and freeze for a lunch box treat which will thaw by lunchtime.)
*Alternative: use chocolate cake mix instead in place of yellow cake mix for Ho Hos!