My friend Jerry always comes through for me when I have a raging case of blogger’s block. Like today, for example, he didn’t even know he was helping me when he e-mailed to tell me, in a way only he could, that finding my blog again, after my sabbatical-length break, was like eating a Suzy Q years after stopping cold turkey.I took this as the supreme compliment that it was intended to be, mostly because I too used to worship at the Hostess temple.My mother would be somewhat embarrassed, I think, if she was alive to read this, as I imagine most mothers who were in their maternal prime in the 50s and 60s would be. And my husband’s mother and grandmother would be absolutely horrified as I don’t believe either ever allowed store-bought sweets into their homes (which explains a few things about Rick).My brothers, however, tell me that my mother had no problem bringing Twinkies into our house, though she herself was never actually seen eating one (or any meal, for that matter) and I can’t imagine she ever did sneak a bite as she possessed a much more sophisticated sweet tooth.In fact, my mother can be credited with elevating the Twinkie to somewhat higher standards by freezing them, a precursor, we think, to freezing Milky Ways and Three Muskateers, the thought being that anything tastes better and is more fun to eat when it is cold and also involves the risk of breaking a tooth.Twinkies, as I remember all Hostess products, were best consumed right after school, when a giant sugar rush was necessary and a nice companion to anything on TV from Clutch Cargo to Leave it to Beaver reruns to Gilligan’s Island to Dark Shadows. My husband Rick, a mere baby born two years after me in 1963, watched reruns of “Get Smart” and thought they were original episodes. My brothers, White Sox fans by birth, would even watch the last few innings of a Cubs game accompanied by a Twinkie and a milk chaser.Of course, the best Hostess product ever made was the Hostess cupcake. Even if you didn’t care for devil’s food, like me, the frosting-like cap on top, peeled off and placed to the side to be savored and saved for later, was well worth getting through the rest.But the real delicacy of all Hostess products has always been the vanilla crème center. No one, to my knowledge, including the brightest scientific minds in the country, has ever determined the exact makeup of the vanilla crème and it really misses the point to even wonder about it.My friend Bari is the only known person to actually hate what she called the gooshz in the middle and so, whenever possible, she would let me have it, never an easy proposition. In my mother’s brilliant freezing technique, you would peel away the sponge cake and be left with a vanilla cremesicle.
But any way you ate a Hostess treat, getting to the gooshz was unquestionably the best part, actually doubling as an after-school activity in the event you didn’t have a friend come over. If it wasn’t scooping out the Twinkie, it was unrolling the Ho-Ho, the younger Hostess generation’s cupcake. Created in 1967 (the Twinkie dates back to 1933 and the cupcake’s seven squiggles and vanilla crème version in 1950 – I’ll bet you didn’t know how educational this was going to be when you first started reading), the Ho Ho sits high atop my personal all-time Hostess list and, I’m not embarrassed to admit (well, ok, a little embarrassed), easily leads my list of all Hostess products consumed in adulthood.I do have to say, however, that discovering a few years ago that Ho Ho’s no longer came wrapped in aluminum foil but in some white, plastic, air-filled packaging was a disappointment from which I’ve never quite recovered.Two final Hostess notes — Suzy Q’s? Never understood the point. Seemed a poor cousin to the cupcake. And the Sno ball? The cousin you never spoke of. My brother Richard claimed they had a slight effeminate quality and that anyone caught with a Sno ball in his lunch box would be promptly beaten up.My brother Barry, who passed down his intense hatred of coconut to me, merely shudders at the word Sno ball and like a giant jar of Skippy to the kid with peanut allergies, my mother would never subject us to it.And there you have it.Thanks, Jerry. Feel free to read Melissa’s columns on ESPNChicago.com