The Twinkies story: How an American icon rose from the depths of bankruptcy

Geoffrey Precourt

Twinkies were the stuff of American boomer legend. It was a time – back in the '50s and '60s – when food didn't have to be good for you, when sweet taste ruled in all-day snacking, and when TV's earliest icons celebrated the brand with integrated content that long predated the notion of "native" advertising.

The "Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling" became so much a part of American culture that the "Twinkie Defense" came into the courtroom lexicon to describe defendants whose eating habits had led to a chemical imbalance that, in some peculiar way, justified a horrendous crime.

Twinkies were the most visible part of Hostess Brands' product portfolio, but the company also made CupCakes, Drake's Ding Dongs, Ho Hos and Wonder Bread – offerings that health-food advocates in the '80s and '90s claimed were all but non-biodegradable.