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Hostess' Variety of Products Go Back a Long Way

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Hostess has been making snacks and bread for nearly 90 years.

The Twinkie was the product of an attempt to make sure that company equipment didn't get left lying around.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Continental Bakeries made snacks and sold them under the Hostess name. Many of those snacks had fruit filling made from seasonal fruits. The fruit filling of one of these products, Hostess Little Shortbread Fingers, was strawberries. For a few months out of the year when strawberries weren't in season, the equipment used to make Little Shortbread Fingers wasn't used. Company vice-president James Dewar wanted the equipment to be used when strawberries weren't in season, and he came up with an idea for how to do it.

Dewar's idea was a sponge cake with a cream filling. The result was the Twinkie, named after Twinkle-Toe Shoes, a billboard for which Dewar noticed on the way to a marketing meeting.

The first Twinkies had banana cream filling. That was in the 1930s. During World War II, however, a banana shortage meant a change in Twinkies filling to vanilla. The switch would be permanent.

Another Hostess icon, Ho Hos, was first introduced in 1920. Not much has changed in the manufacturing of the pinwheel-shaped Ho Hos since that time, although Nutty Ho Hos came along in 1999 and Caramel Ho Hos joined the family in 2004.

Ding Dongs were first made in 1967. In the eastern U.S., they were called King Dons, to avoid confusion with the similar-looking and similarly titled Ring Dings. After a brief flip-flop and flip-back in 1987, Hostess decided to call the chocolate coated, creme-filled snack Ding Dongs all over the country.

Wonder bread goes back to 1921, to the Taggert Baking Company. Vice President Elmer Cline got the idea for a new product after attending an international balloon race. He said that looking at the sky filled with colored balloons gave him a sense of wonder. He decided to call the bread Wonder bread, and the name and the blue, red, and yellow balloons logo are still with us. In 2001, the company sent a hot air balloon around the U.S. to celebrate Wonder Bread's 80th birthday.

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