Happy April and happy Easter Monday! Additionally, I wish a very merry Twinkie Day Eve to all! Mondays are so incredibly special! I continually look forward to them, as they are my 52 Chances, each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!
Tomorrow, April 6th, is National Hostess Twinkie Day! That makes today Twinkie Day Eve – whoop, whoop! This is a perfect time for me to write about how my mom was the FIRST person (circa 1975) to develop a make-at-home version for imitating the cream-filled, golden-sponge-cake delight at home!
When I searched for “Twinkie recipe” on Google, I got back “about 657,000 results…” and Mom wasn’t even in the first two pages of results! So MANY copycats have copied the ORIGINAL copycat – and yet so FEW have actually given my mom the proper credit she deserves for being the inventor of imitating junk foods, fast foods, and other restaurant favorites at home. Mom was the trail-blazing pioneer, who carved out the “copycat cookery” niche in the food industry over 48 years ago!
However, I must note that when I searched for “Pitzer Twinkie recipe”, the first result listed (out of 22,500 results) was actually for Mom’s Hopeless Twinkles© recipe, which I had shared in a previous blog post, on this website, in 2019! [It can also be found in the “Recipes” tab and near the end of this blog post.]
Additionally, I’d also like to give a shout-out to PressReader.com, for printing a copy of one of Mom’s Twinkie imitations, with proper credit given to her! You can check it out at https://www.pressreader.com/usa/orlando-sentinel/20121128/282398396711181! In my search, I also found the following excerpt of interest… as seen at https://www.food.com/recipe/hostess-twinkie-sponge-cake-356820/reviews/846730.
“Review [of homemade Hostess Twinkies] by Tinkerbell (4/10/2009) – NorthwestGal recommended this recipe to me & when I looked at it I was so surprised! I can’t say that I have made this exact recipe, but I can help shed some light on its origin & say that I have made it’s later version, also by Gloria. I saw Gloria Pitzer for the first time on the Phil Donahue show on April 8, 1993. I immediately called & ordered the original transcript of the show. (No TiVo back then! LOL) Gloria Pitzer, the original recipe detective, had been “cloning” recipes for 20 years but got her real jump start when she was working at a newspaper that decided to add a food page. The first letter she opened asked, “How do they make that special sauce at McDonald’s?” She went home & made & remade until she had a sauce that mimicked the Big Mac’s special sauce. After that she branched out into KFC, Wendy’s Frosty & Chili, Oreo cookies and Hostess Twinkies. But, after only 6 weeks doing the new food page for the paper she lost her job because one of her clone recipes (Share A Lease cheesecake) “stepped on the toes of a famous cheesecake company that was also a sponsor of the paper”. She made up new names for her copycat recipes, like Wednesday’s chili (I have that posted here Recipe #21936), Gloreo Cookies (love that recipe!), Big Bucket in the Sky Chicken, Big Match special sauce & Hopeless Twinkles. She first appeared on the Donahue show in July of 1981 and within 90 days the Donahue show received over one million letters about her episode. She appeared again 12 years later, in 1993, when I was lucky enough to be watching with my newborn son. After comparing this recipe with the one I’ve made from the 1993 transcript I see she did alter the recipe quite a bit. She made them on the 1981 episode and again with her new version in 1993. I’ve made the newest version from my transcript. I look forward to trying this one as well. 🙂 Thanks for posting it, Max!”
Did you know… on August 19th, 1919… William B. Ward registered the trademark name, Hostess, for his family’s company’s breads and cakes? Additionally, it was James Dewar, who invented the Twinkie® while working for the Ward family at the Continental Baking Company. Originally, when the baking company was founded in the early 1900s, it was called Ward Baking Company. Later, as the Continental Baking Company, it was purchased by Interstate Bakeries Corporation and renamed Hostess Brands.
For a more in-depth history of the Ward family, their baking company, Dewar’s Twinkies® and the drama that surrounded all of them, check out this fascinating article about it (as written by Bloomberg News), on FinancialPost.com, at https://business.financialpost.com/news/twinkie-history-spiced-with-murder-scandal-suggests-icon-will-survive! I’ve included, below, the short story that Mom wrote about Dewar decades ago.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018, p. 204)
[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]
JAMES DEWAR STARTED OUT driving a horse-drawn wagon in Chicago and, by 1930, was manager of the Continental Baking Company’s Chicago establishment. He invented ‘The Twinkie’, a sponge-type cake with creamy vanilla-flavored filling [in the early 30s.] It has been called the ‘Grand-daddy’ of modern snack foods.
Today, the finger-sized cream-filled cake is as big a confectionery sensation as they were when Dewar first introduced his creation to American cuisine. The company that put out the Twinkie was originally called the Continental Baking Company and later became the Hostess company. At the time, he wanted to give the public something reasonably priced, for the Great Depression of the 30s brought grave times to this country.
Treats like the cream-filled Twinkies, would be a luxury to people who couldn’t afford otherwise. For decades, the appealing factor about the Twinkies national popularity has been that it is affordable! Dewar put 2 cakes in each package, selling them for $.05 a pair. For the price of a nickel, it was quite a bargain. Dewar remembered how the Continental Baking Company was selling small finger-sized shortcakes for strawberry season in the 1930s.
The pans they used to bake them in were not being used except for the spring promotion to produce the shortcakes. He, therefore, came up with the idea of preparing the same shortcake in those pans, but filling each cake with an injection of vanilla cream. The Twinkies became an immediate success!
The idea for the name, on the other hand, came while he was on a business trip to St. Louis and saw a billboard advertising ‘Twinkle Toes Shoes’, which was, then, a terrific sales pitch. The name ‘Twinkies’ was a spinoff of that shoe advertisement. From then on, the cakes took off.
When Dewar retired from Continental in 1968, he boasted often to the press that he ate scores of Twinkies every day. That’s not a bad endorsement for the critics who claim junk food will shorten your life span.
Do you remember the big run on Twinkies®, back in November of 2012? The Hostess Brands company had announced it was going out of business and utter chaos ensued as the American masses swarmed their local stores to buy all the yummy, cream-filled, sponge cakes (and other products of Hostess Brands) they could find!
Our Canadian neighbors still had Hostess Brands in their country and were laughing at the lengths Americans were going to get their hands on the suddenly-hard-to-find, coveted Twinkies®. Some Twinkies® were actually being auctioned on eBay for THOUSANDS of dollars – and people were paying it! A spokesperson for Hostess sarcastically asked the media where all of these Hostess Brands enthusiasts were before they had to file for bankruptcy.
I saw a great article about Twinkies® a few years ago that I saved in “My Favorites”. It was called “Beverly Hills Billionaire To Take Over Twinkies Maker, Hostess Brands” and written by James R. Koren (L. A. Times; July 5, 2016), explaining how the Hostess Brands company, under various names and ownerships, was saved from bankruptcy foreclosures more than once over the past century.
When the announcement was first made in 2012 that Hostess Brands was closing their business for good and Americans panicked at their sudden loss, I wasn’t worried about never having Twinkies® again… because my mom taught me how to make my own! In fact, as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, Mom taught everyone how to make their own at home!
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 1-2)
DE-BUNKING THE JUNK!
What is the truth about junk food? The food experts have been referring to many snack foods and fast foods as ‘junk’ in an attempt to disqualify their value when compared to foods containing high amounts of protein and vitamins.
No one has confirmed a definition of the expression ‘junk food’, yet the public has been conditioned to accept any snack food, sweets, candies, confections, baked goods and many beverages as ‘junk food’ when, in reality, these are not without nutritional value.
All by itself, a raw carrot could hardly support the human system substantially; neither could a cup of yogurt. Yet, a candy bar or a small piece of cake or a hamburger on a bun is considered, by some of the food industry’s most prestigious experts, as having little or no food value in our daily diets.
The junk food paradox has caused school systems and other public institutions to ban the sale of any foods we would consider snack items, making it illegal, in fact, in the state of Michigan and some others, if such items were sold to children through vending machines on the premises.
This is infuriating to the good cooks and… food chemists among us, who know that JUNK FOOD is actually any food that is poorly prepared. ALL food has nutritional value. Some just seem to have more than others. But, in the final analysis, it is purely personal taste that will determine the popularity of one food over another.
‘There really are very few recipe secrets!’ – Gloria Pitzer
The ‘fast food’ industry has been the most successful of any phase in the business. Their success depending largely on the fact that their recipes are all closely guarded secrets! I say, ‘baloney!’ As a very believing public, we have been spoon-fed a good deal of shrewd publicity by some very skilled… advertising people, who count on our susceptibility to commercial advertising campaigns to buy their products.
Whether we’re buying a hamburger in one of McDonald’s restaurants… or a Twinkie off of the grocer’s shelf, we still believe that these products can’t be equaled by any other company in the industry, nor by the average cook in a standard, home kitchen… AND this is wrong!
‘You’ll be amazed at the number of recipes you can duplicate in your own kitchen – and those you can, at least, come close to imitating – with far more success than the advertising people give us credit!’ – Gloria Pitzer
If you missed my visit last week on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, when we discussed the 2012 run on Hostess Twinkies and Mom’s recipe for imitating them at home (same as the 1983 version shown further below). I also shared Mom’s Famous Nameless Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe and her 3-ingredient ham-basting sauce from her 1983 self-published cookbook, The Joy Of NOT Cooking – Any More Than You Have To!
[NOTE: You can listen to the podcast recording here… https://www.spreaker.com/user/woodwardradio/the-good-neighbor-show-032921]
Additionally, Kathy has released an announcement of her retirement from WHBY. Sadly, I’ll only be visiting with her two more times. We’re currently scheduled for April 26th and May 24th. You can listen to Kathy’s official notice, on YouTube.com, at… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqC8LstRm8U&t=9s
In honor of National Hostess Twinkie Day, here is Mom’s ORIGINAL copycat recipe from 1975 and an encore of her 1983 revision, for imitating the famous, cream-filled, sponge cake; as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (Nat’l Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Bch., MI; Jan. 1977, Revised Ed., p. 34) and her 1983 “Free Recipes” sheet, respectively. The latter recipe is also in Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 205).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
APRIL IS, among other things… National Month of Hope, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Couple Appreciation Month, National Decorating Month, National Fresh Celery Month, National Garden Month, National Humor Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Straw Hat Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, National Volunteer Month, Scottish-American Heritage Month, and Stress Awareness Month!
Additionally, yesterday was the start of National Public Health Week! Some other celebrations for this week include the following:
Today is also… First Contact Day, Gold Star Spouses Day, National Caramel Day, National Deep Dish Pizza Day, National Flash Drive Day, National Go For Broke Day, National Nebraska Day, National Read a Road Map Day, and National Raisin and Spice Bar Day! In honor of that last one, in particular, here’s a copy of Mom’s recipe for imitating Spanish Bar Cake like the old A&P’s popular Ann Page brand. I also shared this recipe in June 2020, on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene!
Tuesday is… National Caramel Popcorn Day, New Beer’s Eve, National Sorry Charlie Day, National Student-Athlete Day, National Tartan Day, National Teflon Day, and National Library Workers Day [the Tuesday of National Library Week, which changes annually]!
Wednesday is… National Beer Day, National Coffee Cake Day, National Girl Me Too Day, National No Housework Day, and National Bookmobile Day [the Wednesday of National Library Week], and National Walking Day [the first Wednesday in April]!
…14 down, 38 chances to go!