Twinkies: America’s Favorite Snack Cake

With a light, buttery cake and a sweet cream filling injected through three holes, Twinkies are an iconic snack cake. Back in the day, they were a lunch box staple (alongside Cupcakes and Ding Dongs). But, have you ever wondered the history of Twinkies and how they came to be America’s favorite snack cake?

Robert Ward founded a small bakery in lower Manhattan that made yellow sponge cakes. In 1925, Robert Ward’s grandson, who owned Continental Baking, acquired Taggart Baking the makers of Wonder bread and Hostess brand cakes. Through their distribution outlets, this allowed Robert Ward’s yellow sponge cake to be sold nationwide.

Continental Baking began producing a yellow cake filled with strawberries. In 1930, with strawberries out of season, James Alexander Dewar was trying to figure out what to do with the idle molds.

He decided to stuff the golden sponge cake with a banana cream instead of strawberry and Twinkies were born. The inspiration for the name came from a billboard for the Twinkle Toe Shoe Company. Since money was tight during the depression, the cakes came in a package of two and were sold for 5 cents a piece.

Can you imagine enjoying a banana cream filled Twinkies rather than the sweet vanilla filling? The vanilla cream filling was introduced during World War II. Bananas were rationed, so Hostess switched to a vanilla cream filling. It was a huge hit, the filling flavor stayed.

Part of the popularity was also due to the Twinkie the Kid character that was created to promote Twinkies along with Hostess’ sponsorship of the extremely popular Howdy Doody show.

Through the years the Hostess brand was sold to different corporations and, unfortunately, went bankrupt in 2012. Twinkies returned to store shelves in 2013.

While the recipe has changed over the years, what hasn’t changed is the nostalgic love consumers have for Twinkies.