Miso-Butterscotch Twinkies

Miso-Butterscotch Twinkies

These are not your father’s Twinkies. Save leftover pudding for a bonus dessert, best topped with whipped cream.


For the Twinkies

  • Vegetable oil, for greasing the pan
  • 3/4 Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/4 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream

For the miso-butterscotch pudding

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 Cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 Cup heavy cream
  • 1 Cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 Cup water
  • 1/2 Teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons light miso paste
  • 1 Cup whole milk


Calories Per Serving435

Folate equivalent (total)40µg10%

Riboflavin (B2)0.3mg15.3%

Easy Miso Butterscotch

So, I love my sweet and salties. (Almost) every sweet thing is better with a little hit of salt. And in the case of salted caramel and butterscotch, I’d say a big hit of salt.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with trying to work miso into desserts. I’ve been experimenting, and having lots of partial successes. They need a little more fine tuning, so, coming soon. But I definitely hit the mark with this one. Miso butterscotch. And it’s SUPER easy to make.

I mean, butterscotch is already great with its sweet and saltiness, but the miso adds this great “umami” to it, and adds a depth and dimension that you didn’t realize was missing!

Now don’t let the whole “miso is for miso soup” thing cloud your judgment here. And go ahead and forget the fact that you’ll be drizzling fermented soybean paste on your ice cream. Ha! It’s really yummy! I promise! Unless you don’t like miso. I can’t promise you’ll like this if you don’t like miso. Sorry.

White miso is less intense and better suited for sweet applications. There is red miso, awase miso (red and white combo), and a few other varieties, but you’ll want to go white for this butterscotch. Unless you really like funky and salty, in which case, more power to you, try the red! The brand I use is Hikari white miso (affiliate), and I’m linking you to Amazon, but honestly, I just buy it at my local Asian market because it’s cheaper and I’m there all the time anyways. But hey, I’ll give you the option.

My favorite uses for this miso butterscotch are to pour it (I was gonna say drizzle but I really do pour it) over vanilla ice cream, dip apples in it, and well, I also dip the spoon in it and eat it straight. Because sometimes I need a pick me up during the day (or several), and it kind of just hits the spot. Oh, and I’ve eaten it on pancakes too! With whipped cream. Yum!

So there you go, East meets West fusion, salty meets sweet fusion. Double fusion goodness.

As a word of warning, I’d start by adding 3t of miso and trying it before adding the 4th teaspoon. I like mine with 4, but I like miso and I like salty butterscotch. Better safe than sorry. Add some, try it, add some more.

Potato Gnocchi Recipe

By Karen Brooks with Gideon Bosker and Teri Gelber

Karen Brooks’s new book about the exciting food scene in Portland, Oregon, should come with the warning that you’ll grow extremely hungry as you read about the food-cart dreamers, charcuterie zealots, renegade chefs, obsessive bakers, and meticulous coffee makers who sparked the culinary revolution that transformed the rugged city into a food paradise. Scattered among the book’s richly photographed pages are 50 of Portland’s most obsessed-over recipes, such as Navarre restaurant’s deceptively simple Roasted Beet Greens with Gruyère and the Grilled Corn with Salty Coconut Cream and Limes that comes from Thai street-food wiz Andy Ricker.

Parsnips with Orange Sage Gremolata (page 46) A fragrant twist on gremolata, the classic osso buco garnish, makes roasted parsnips taste amazing.

Tastebud’s Original Berry Cobbler (page 84) I imagine that the original version of this dessert- made with Oregon berries and baked in a wood-fired oven-is truly divine, but even with supermarket fruit, this was awesome.

The Luxe Life: Gourmet Junk Food

Satisfy your cravings with these sophisticated takes on classic snack foods.

Snacks Gone Supreme

Most everyone has a junk food favorite, though not everyone is willing to fess up to a covert desire for crunchy potato chips, cream-filled snack cakes or other guilty pleasures. Clever chefs across the country have tapped into those hidden cravings by creating elevated spins on classic snack foods. No need to keep your secret obsessions to yourself any longer these spots across the country are making it perfectly acceptable to indulge in public.

Duck Fat Chex Mix

It may seem impossible to improve on the many qualities of Chex™ Mix that make this salty, crunchy party mix so addictive, but the founders of San Francisco ice cream empire Humphry Slocombe have found a way to take this savory treat to new and luxurious heights. The secret to the snack’s sumptuous boost of flavor is rendered duck fat, which is melted and used in place of the traditional butter coating. Other unique additions, such as fresh pepper, cayenne and fresh thyme sprigs, make this treat feel especially decadent. You can find this indulgent version, served warm, as an occasional snack in the Humphry Slocombe ice cream parlors and pop-up shops.

Silly Rabbit Cocktail

Beverage Director Benjamin Schiller of The Sixth in Chicago dug into his bartending bag of tricks to translate the flavors of a favorite fruity cereal from childhood into the Silly Rabbit Cocktail. This refreshing beverage starts off as a tweaked version of the long-established Southside cocktail recipe — a shaken concoction of gin, lime, simple syrup and mint. Schiller’s base cocktail is a mix of gin, lemon juice, soda, simple syrup and mint tincture. The drink is then poured over a stack of four brightly colored fruit juice cubes: a play on the lemon, orange, raspberry and grape flavors from the breakfast cereal. As the cubes melt, the flavor profile of the drink evolves, thus making for both a striking visual and a sweet-and-sour taste experience that patrons love. “It's been on our menu since we opened, and I would get [dragged] out into the street if I tried to take it off,” Schiller jokes.

Miso-Butterscotch Twinkie

In his search for a lightly sweet dessert to cap off a menu of hearty rice bowls, ramens and steam buns, Boke Bowl Chef and Co-Owner Patrick Fleming turned to the treats of his boyhood — in particular, his favorite cream-filled snack cake. “I wanted to recreate something fun from my childhood, but make it uniquely our own,” he says. The idea prompted the chef and his team to begin crafting handmade versions of the classic treat, which they have churned out in a variety of Asian-inspired flavors at Fleming’s shop in Portland, Oregon. The standout is the Miso-Butterscotch Twinkie. This vanilla sponge cake is baked until slightly golden, then filled with a miso-butterscotch cream and dusted with powdered sugar.

Barclay Prime Cheesesteak

Philadelphia steakhouse Barclay Prime delivers a sumptuous spin on a legendary local sandwich with its Barclay Prime Cheesesteak. The restaurant’s culinary team skillfully elevates the Philly cheesesteak to gourmet status, while managing to stay true to the essence of the regional staple, which traditionally consists of a chewy hoagie bun stuffed with thinly sliced rib eye, melted cheese and fried onions. Prime’s upscale take begins with a lightly toasted semolina roll. Grilled, razor-thin Japanese Wagyu beef is sauteed with slices of lightly caramelized Spanish onions, then spooned inside the roll along with a truffled foie gras mousse. A truffle-studded cascade of creamy Sottocenere al Tartufo cheese is then poured over the top of the entire sandwich. Another difference between this dish and the standard Philly sandwich is the price tag — Prime’s version costs $120, which includes a half bottle of champagne.

Chorizo Pop Tarts

The Chorizo Pop Tarts from Graffiti: A Social Kitchen may share a name and a shape with the pre-packaged toaster pastries found in local grocery aisles, but the similarities stop there. At this Cleveland restaurant, the sweet breakfast snack has been reimagined as a savory brunch dish. Graffiti’s popular pastry starts with a buttery homemade crust that is rolled into squares, then stuffed with locally-sourced chorizo and goat cheese before being baked to a beauteous golden brown. The dish comes flanked by fresh sides of tangy guacamole and smoked paprika crema, which provide the perfect complement to the pastry’s rich filling. This brunch favorite is a first-come-first-serve item, and only available on the Sunday menu, so it’s best to arrive early if you want your fix.

Savory Turnovers

Provision No. 14 offers an epicurean alternative to microwaveable turnovers with its refined interpretation of the savory treat that’s typically found in the freezer section of the supermarket. While part of the joy and pain of heating up this classic snack has always been the mystery around whether the salty filling inside will be lava hot or ice cold after a turn in the microwave, the Washington, D.C. restaurant removes these doubts entirely. Its version features a lamb cheek filling that’s braised until fork-tender, then enveloped in a flaky pastry crust and baked until delightfully piping hot. To give this luscious dish a peppery kick, dollops of arugula aioli are added as a finishing touch.

Wild Game Frito Chili Pie

Lulu’s Allston in Boston turns out an elevated take on the savory Frito pie popularized at concession stands and food trucks across the Southwest. In its purest form, this snack classic is eaten with a plastic fork directly out of an open bag of Fritos® corn chips, which are smothered in chili and shredded cheese. Lulu’s version dresses up the original with a Texas-style beanless chili made with buffalo and wild boar meats sourced from Durham Farms in Nevada. The fresh game is slow-cooked in beer and tomatoes to add depth of flavor, then poured over a bowl of crunchy Fritos® corn chips and finished with sour cream, shredded Cabot cheddar cheese and chopped scallions.

Cheetos Macaron

Husband-and-wife team Simon Tung and Christina Ha pride themselves on creating airy confections in unconventional flavors at their two Macaron Parlour shops in New York City. It’s no wonder, then, that they discovered an ingenious way to turn the delightfully addictive cheese puffs known as Cheetos® into an elegant finger food. Their Cheetos Macaron features a filling bursting with the distinctive flavor (and bright orange color) of the classic snack. Ha and Tung soak bags of Cheetos® in heavy cream for a few hours to sop up the flavor of the cheese puffs. After straining out the Cheetos®, they combine the cream with melted white chocolate and chill the mixture until it’s thick enough to pipe inside the crunchy cookies that complete the confection. Made with an Italian-style meringue, the cookies feature a vibrant orange hue that is achieved via food coloring. The resulting confection is a striking treat that’s lightly sweet and savory — and won’t leave your fingers orange when you’re finished.

“Twix” Bars

Though best known for their sophisticated renditions of snack cakes like Ho Hos® and Twinkies®, the minds behind Empire Cake have also worked their culinary magic on a classic candy bar. This housemade version features a buttery shortbread cookie as its base. The cookie is drenched in indulgent layers of melted caramel and creamy ganache, then encased in a bittersweet Belgian chocolate shell. The confection is finished with an artful drizzle of white chocolate that adds to the richness. The only downside to this sweet treat is that it doesn’t come in packs of two like the original pre-wrapped candy bar. We won’t tell if you decide not to share.

Boke Bowl – One Bowl at a Time

My friend took me out for a late birthday lunch last week at Boke Bowl. I had heard nothing but great things about this place and was too excited to try it out.

I thought they only had ramen so I was pleasantly surprised to see rice bowls, salads, and steam buns on the menu. Made it a lot harder for me to choose! A plus about this place is it definitely caters to the vegetarians, carnivores, and those with gluten intolerance.

The ramen menu seemed simple at first glance, but then I saw there was a separate column where I could add different things to my bowl. You could add a slow-poached egg, pork belly, house-brined and smoked tofu, cornmeal crusted oysters, and buttermilk friend chicken.

I decided on the Pork Dashi Ramen. It’s a slow smoked pork with handmade noodles and seasonal veggies. I also added a slow-poached egg on top. As soon as the waiter put the bowl in front of me the smell was captivating. The taste was even better, not too salty and just the perfect amount of seasoning. Best ramen I’ve had yet.

My friend decided to go with the Pork Rice Bowl. The rice bowls come with rice (duh), pickles, kimchi, and veggies. You can add onto the rice bowls as well, but my friend decided to keep it simple.

We were surprised at the end of our meal with dessert on the house, which was very sweet. The waiter brought us their Miso Butterscotch Twinkie. It had the perfect amount of flavoring. It didn’t taste artificial like a regular Twinkie, but instead like a small pound cake with amazing flavor inside.

I will definitely be back to Boke Bowl. Perfect for winter time, or really whenever you need some good ol’ ramen comfort.

I also hear that on Thursday nights they have Korean Fried Chicken that is brined for 48 hours, par smoked, chilled overnight, fried and tossed with a garlic and ginger soy vinegar sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

blend the ingredients for the cake

on high until smooth and creamy.

Fill 8 cupcake liners in a muffin tin almost all of the way to the top with the batter, and bake for 20-25 minutes until browned and cooked through.

Let the muffins cool to room temperature.

Combine the Swerve confectioners sugar substitute

and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in a mixing bowl, and whip the ingredients until they form soft peaks.

Sprinkle the xanthan gum over the whipped mixture a little at a time, folding it in as you go to form a marshmallow fluff consistency.

Use a small round cookie cutter or a knife to cup a circular shape out of the bottom of each of the cooled muffins.

Cut most of the section that you remove from the muffin away, leaving just a thin cap to place back on the bottom of the muffin once it is filled.

Pipe the filling into the bottom of each muffin

and place the cake cap back on the bottom.

Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes to set the filling if desired, and serve.

  • ¼ C. Heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ C. Swerve confectioners sugar substitute
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. Xanthan gum
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, blend the ingredients for the cake on high until smooth and creamy.
  3. Fill 8 cupcake liners in a muffin tin almost all of the way to the top with the batter, and bake for 20-25 minutes until browned and cooked through.
  4. Let the muffins cool to room temperature.
  5. Combine the heavy whipping cream, ¼ C. Swerve confectioners sugar substitute and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in a mixing bowl, and whip the ingredients until they form soft peaks.
  6. Sprinkle the xanthan gum over the whipped mixture a little at a time, folding it in as you go to form a marshmallow fluff consistency.
  7. Use a small round cookie cutter or a knife to cup a circular shape out of the bottom of each of the cooled muffins.
  8. Cut most of the section that you remove from the muffin away, leaving just a thin cap to place back on the bottom of the muffin once it is filled. You can view the photos for reference.
  9. Pipe the filling into the bottom of each muffin, and place the cake cap back on the bottom.
  10. Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes to set the filling if desired, and serve.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cookie Time: 20-25 minutes
Servings: 8
Net Carbs: 5 net carbs per serving

Don’t forget to Pin! So you can come back and make this tasty keto Twinkies recipe!

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20 Spots That Defined the Year in Food

No place h as generated more talk this year than Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton’s mash-up of Argentine barbecue, Portland bravado, and French technique. Ox’s meaty love story is told over red-hot embers and dramatic flames erupting from a hand-cranked grill that could pass for an elegant torture device. And holy smokes, let’s not forget the formidable wild halibut—a thick monster that arrives on the bone like a vision of Morton’s from the sea—or a clam chowder served with the epiphanic shock of smoked bone marrow shouldering some fierce jalapeños. This is the stuff of culinary lore. The intimate chef’s counter is an essential destination—and close enough to the wood fire to literally feel the heat. But in this boisterous room, happiness can be easily found at clustered tables or the teeny bar, home of the best pisco sour I can remember: smoky and tingling under a billowing white egg cloud. Lest vegetarians feel excluded, this big-hearted kitchen also gets giddy with seasonal vegetables. Denton’s baroque inclinations are best in small doses, but the spare magnificence of his skirt steak or crackling fresh sausages will leave you licking your chops. —Karen Brooks

Lottery Winner of the Year

  • baked stuffed trout
  • cappelletti in brodo
  • spaghetti with garlic oil, hot peppers, and clams
  • luce cake

Far from the sly tweets and sold-out preview dinners that now trumpet additions to Portland’s suddenly media-savvy food scene, Luce opened on E Burnside Street last fall without a peep. To anyone. Inside, the curious found a place that could be mistaken for a hardware store stocked with the smell of Grandma’s kitchen, candlelit tables, curated groceries, and a cool little collection of Italian wines. This affordable minimalist’s paean to honest Italian cooking is led by braised chickens and rosemary-scented hanger steaks topping out at $16, alongside a carnival of $2 antipasti. For most of its short life, Luce has been, at its core, a spirit and an idea from Navarre’s John Taboada and Giovanna Parolari, two eccentrics with great taste and a love for Italy’s “old man’s” cooking. Now it’s also something they never dreamed: one of America’s most talked-about restaurants. In September, Luce landed the no. 4 slot on Bon Appétit’s “America’s Best New Restaurants” list. The surge of customers and camera clickers has overwhelmed the kitchen for now. But inspiration arrived with the chaos, and one little honest place on one very big list signals hope for America’s culinary future. —Karen Brooks

THE NEW FUSION Mapo dofu and egg custard at Smallwares


Most Original Menu

  • scallop sashimi
  • chicken lollipops and Sriracha mayo
  • egg-drop soup with Chinese sausage
  • mapo dofu and egg custard
  • black cod with smoked sherry vinegar
  • somen noodles with fried egg

It takes a certain chutzpah to reimagine the five food groups in the baby-stroller stronghold of Beaumont Village. Smallwares launched in February as a cute, sassy, creative independent, where chef-owner Johanna Ware offers not so much a menu as a rethinking of dinner, Asian cult foods, and Oregon larder all at once. In this bright enclave of red-lacquered tables, pop music, and flotsam-and-jetsam lamps, the snacking is fun and fearless—and so is the heat. Oysters arrive with a Vietnamese fever a crazy wave of brine, fish sauce, cilantro, and lime spills from each half shell. For a night of ear-warming invigoration, this is the starting point. No two dishes are alike, and you’ll want a collection of them to share with a date or friends. An evening’s adventure can swing from a supremely elegant egg custard holding a shriek of chiles, pork crumbles, and fermented black beans—an homage to China’s iconic mapo dofu by way of Japan—to a mind-bending “cobb salad” stocked with shishito peppers, fat wads of blue cheese, crispy-crunchy six-minute eggs, and kimchi mayo. Ware learned to twist Asian conventions with madcap thinking and technical process at David Chang’s famed Momofuku Ssäm Bar in Manhattan, and it shows. She’s the real deal, offering a friendly vibe, clever cocktails, and great deals through 2 a.m. in the back room Barwares. Get a seat while you can. —Karen Brooks

BETTER TOGETHER A ramen feast at Boke Bowl’s communal table

Boke Bowl

Most Likely to Succeed

  • ramen with pulled pork and fried chicken
  • seasonal salads
  • steamed buns (eggplant or zucchini)
  • miso butterscotch Twinkies

Boke began as the quintessential Portland food experiment: a pop-up ramen shop serving handmade everything, with democratic choices for the carnivore camp and the omnivore party. Faster than you can slurp noodle soup teeming with fried chicken or Japanese eggplant, it morphed into a lunch-centric brick-and-mortar destination that embodies the best of Portland’s restaurant scene—communal, design-savvy, and affordable. Ramen honcho Patrick Fleming trades in creativity, not textbook authority. His growing repertoire embraces an intriguing rabbit confit ramen, joyful salads, intriguing snacks (from pickled watermelon to fried pears), and a mixed bag of desserts. Steamed buns come in a blaze of flavors led by fat slabs of grilled zucchini, a hail of fried and fresh shallots, and a lip-smacking glaze of vegan miso mayo. Regulars—kids, elders, and gangs of daters—pour in, especially for Thursday night’s family-style feast of brined, smoked chicken, and a Thanksgiving-level spread of sides. —Karen Brooks

FROZEN LUXURY An artful array of desserts at Castagna


Best Desserts

  • warm chocolate with praline ice cream, coffee, and dates cherries, almond ice cream, birch syrup

The almond ice cream is a pale yellow ovoid of frozen luxury cradled in a “nest” of forbidding heavy granite. Long, crisscrossed twigs of stretched meringue rest on top, each a jolt of sweet crackle and visual punning. Hiding below: a cluster of black cherries snuggling like chicks and a pool of birch syrup as thick as sap. Justin Woodward didn’t need to put a bird on his otherworldly creation—he merely created the dessert of the year, part of Castagna’s collection of high-flying finishers. Woodward earned his pastry stripes at Manhattan’s modernist food lab WD-50, and it pays off in the complex techniques and conceptual excitement largely missing from Portland’s other dessert menus. A dessert trio always concludes the kitchen’s tasting menu, the city’s most accomplished spread of avant-garde eating. But it’s also possible to just drop by for a dessert immersion from an à la carte menu of sweets and savories. —Karen Brooks

Beaker & Flask

Best Second Act

  • black tea fried chicken
  • smoked beef short rib with pistachios
  • mussels and clams with pork belly

It’s rare that a sous chef manages to one-up his former commander. But arguably, that’s what newly installed Beaker & Flask honcho Anthony Walton did when his mentor, Ben Bettinger, jumped ship in March 2012 to open Imperial with famed chef Vitaly Paley (see “Chefs of the Year,” p. 86). Inspired by fresh finds and his Midwest-Southern roots, Walton collages comfort-food classics and contemporary techniques for an impressive reinterpretation of bar food. Heavy hitters from the updated menu balance soulful flavors and visual drama. Silken tofu (made just a few yards away at Ota Tofu) artfully poses with quinoa granola, brushstrokes of sweet poppy-seed dressing, and savory smoked cherries, while albacore tuna, barely seared, reclines over charred baby octopus. Make no mistake: Beaker & Flask remains one of the city’s craft cocktail destinations. But as word of Walton’s upscale cocktail cuisine spreads, the bartenders might need to shake even faster to keep up. —Allison Jones

GOOD EVENING, VIETNAM Beef tenderloin, chicken wings, and the Rooster Fight cocktail at Luc Lac

Strawberry Twinkie Dessert

Strawberry twinkie dessert is very special for every strawberry lover’s kids and people. This recipe will surely make you happy if your child has become a strawberry lover. This great recipe is made with a great combination of twinkies, cream cheese, whipped dessert toppings, and strawberries.

Are you interested in knowing how to make twinkies? If you are interested, continue reading carefully.

Ingredient List

  • 1 (8 ounces) packet of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14 ounces) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 (18.75 ounces) strawberry glaze
  • 8 Twinkies
  • 1 (12 ounces) container frozen whipped topping

Direction Steps

  • Combine strawberries and glaze well in a container/bowl conveniently.
  • Cut Twinkies into equal parts the long way, and place in a single layer over the lower part of a 9 x 13-inch dish.
  • Then in a large bowl, keep beating the cream cheese and condensed milk until smooth. When beaten well, turn off the beat.
  • Fold in whipped topping and sprinkle combination over Twinkies.
  • Lastly, let it cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Give some more time as needed!

Hopefully, I have been able to overcome your curiosity about how to make twinkie. It is very easy to prepare. Besides, it is healthy. If the mind calls strawberries-strawberries at any time of the day or night, then make the recipe quickly. Chill your life with food happiness!

How Texas Twinkies are made

According to Texas Monthly, Hutchins BBQ starts with hand-picked jalapenos, the size of a pork rib. They are enormous! Each jalapeno is stuffed with cream cheese and almost a 1/4 lb of chopped fatty brisket. The stuffed peppers are then wrapped in thick-cut bacon, seasoned with salt and pepper, and smoked to perfection. After smoking, the Twinkies are brushed with a sweet barbecue sauce and grilled to make them crisp.

My version of Texas Twinkies is a touch different. I add a little bit of chopped green onion in each pepper and mix some caramelized onion in the chopped brisket. You want to make sure that the brisket is fatty. Like good sausage, brisket mix needs to have at least about 20% fat content to not taste dry. The caramelized onion adds a ton of savory flavor and additional moisture.

I don’t season my twinkies with salt and pepper and I also skip the sweet BBQ sauce and the grilling at the end. Frankly, I see very little purpose for it. My smoked jalapeno poppers and Texas Twinkies always come out perfectly flavorful, moist on the inside, and crispy on the outside. Why grill them? Why add any sauce?

The only reason I see for a glaze and for crisping up Twinkies is when you make them ahead and need to freshen them up before serving to customers. This makes perfect sense as in a commercial environment smoking anything to order is just not feasible. And pre-made Twinkies sitting in a warming box lose their luster and crispiness. That said, there is no harm in trying if you want to.

How nostalgia saved Hostess' Twinkies

Narrator: A mainstay in pop culture and lunchboxes for more than 80 years.

Narrator: The Twinkie is an American icon. The vanilla cake stuffed with cream even made it into the National Millennium Time Capsule.

Alex Bitter: When you think about kind of the pantheon of food brands, there aren't a ton that kind of rise to the level of Twinkies.

Narrator: But two bankruptcies, heavy debt loads, and changing tastes pushed Twinkies off shelves and almost to their death.

Andy Jhawar: People were starting to sell boxes of Twinkies on eBay for $1,000 a pop. I mean, just crazy stuff, right? It was like the death of a piece of Americana.

Narrator: But just when everyone thought that they were gone for good, Twinkies rose again. So, what happened?

Twinkies were invented in Schiller Park, Illinois, in 1930. This guy, James Dewar, managed a bakery plant at the start of the Depression. He wanted to make better use of expensive strawberry shortcake equipment sitting unused when strawberries weren't in season. So he stuck banana cream in a shortcake. Dewar sold the Twinkies in packs of two for 5 cents. When bananas were rationed during World War II, the simple vanilla cream we know today became the filling.

In the next two decades, Twinkies and its parent brand, Hostess, dominated the packaged-cake market. Marketed to children in everything from TV commercials to Batman comics, Twinkies rose to the status of a cultural icon.

Buffalo Bob: You're getting ready for school. Here. Here's a swell dessert that you can take along with you. A package of two big Hostess Twinkies.

Narrator: The Hostess snack cemented itself in kids' lunchboxes across America.

Jhawar: It was affordable indulgence for families. It was just so woven into the fabric of the culture of America.

Narrator: In 1971, the brand introduced its mascot, Twinkie the Kid.

Wizard: It's Twinkie the Kid!

Twinkie the Kid: Yahoo!

Narrator: The anthropomorphic cowboy Twinkie became popular among kids for sharing his namesake cakes. But growing talk of Twinkies' high sugar content would soon butt heads with the brand's kid-friendly marketing.

First, the Federal Trade Commission came down on Hostess for false nutritional claims. The agency concluded that sugar was the main ingredient in Twinkies. And then, in '79, the trial of a San Francisco man charged with murdering the mayor gave rise to the term "Twinkie defense." The defense team argued he had "diminished capacity" thanks to his addiction to Twinkies, and the murder charges were lessened to manslaughter.It was a trial that balked at the wholesome cake brand Hostess was trying to build.

Ad: Fresh, wholesome Hostess meets my tough standards. So when I say yes, it's Hostess.

Narrator: Then began a string of new owners for Hostess. In the '70s, telephone company ITT ran Twinkies' parent company. In the '80s, dog-food maker Purina acquired Hostess. And a decade later, it landed under its final owner, Interstate Bakeries Corporation.

The sale created the largest baking company in the US, with, at its peak, 58 factories, over 10,000 delivery routes, a boost in Twinkies sales, and $3.2 billion in total sales. But in the late '90s, America's changing tastes would soon spell trouble for the sugar-packed Twinkies.

With the growing popularity of low-carb, Atkins, and later the South Beach diets, some Americans were becoming more health-conscious. Loaded with calories, sugar, and preservatives most people hadn't heard of, let alone could pronounce, Twinkies became a casualty of the health revolution. Sales fell, and then flattened.

In October of '98, because of missed earnings, shares dropped 25% in just one day. But it wasn't just the product that was the problem. Pensions and raw goods got too costly. As other food companies were modernizing manufacturing, Hostess ran inefficient factories, operating at 54% capacity utilization.

Jhawar: That's very poor in the manufacturing world.

Narrator: The company also relied on a tired delivery system.

Jhawar: A DSD model, direct-store-delivery model, has really high costs because you've got trucks, drivers, gas, insurance that you have to pay for. And you're going to every store in America every few days to drop off product.

Narrator: Delivery alone ate up 36% of revenue.

Hillary Clinton: An important way to capture this moment in time would be by filling a national time capsule.

Narrator: In 1999, President Bill Clinton included a Twinkie in the National Millennium Time Capsule. So Twinkies still had a huge fan base, but by then, the damage to Hostess' bottom line had been done. By 2004, with $700 billion in debt, Twinkies' parent company, Interstate, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Over the next five years, Interstate cut 7,000 employees and shut down eight factories. The company came out of bankruptcy in 2009 and rebranded itself Hostess Brands, but it didn't work.

Jhawar: But, unfortunately, many of the legacy problems that really hampered the company didn't get solved through that bankruptcy.

Narrator: Then the recession took a huge hit on Hostess' bottom line, with year-over-year sales down 20%. To make matters worse, a worker strike and labor dispute soon followed.

Jhawar: That fight turned into production stopping, and the management team then threatened to shut the company down, given pressure from its creditors. And that's exactly what happened.

Narrator: By January 2012, with nearly a billion dollars in debt, Hostess Brands filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy again.

Broadcaster: The company that makes Twinkies, Wonder Bread, and Ding Dongs announced this morning that it is going out of business.

Narrator: In November, Twinkies were pulled from shelves, and headlines across the country reported the death of Twinkies.

Jhawar: Customers started honestly losing their minds over it.

Bitter: People who would have never cared about Twinkies, in fact, suddenly wanted them. Or thought, "Oh, my God, well, if they're going away forever, I need to stock up.

Broadcaster: The rush was on to grab the last of those tasty treats.

Broadcaster: People scrambled to get the last Twinkies off those store shelves.

Jhawar: It was like the death of a piece of Americana.

Narrator: In December 2012, Hostess began laying off all its employees. Things were looking bad for Hostess, but this guy still saw value in the nostalgia attached to the brand.

Jhawar: There was a real brand here, and it's hard to kill a good brand.

Narrator: Andy is half of the duo credited with saving the Twinkies.

Jhawar: If you polled people age 20 and over, there's 95% brand awareness. I mean, it's unbelievable. It's not every day that you can buy a brand like this, that's ubiquitous in consumers' mind and has leading market share, had a billion dollars in revenues, and an 80-year legacy.

Narrator: After the second bankruptcy, Andy approached legendary investor Dean Metropoulos about joining him in rescuing Hostess. Dean had turned around.

Jhawar: Bumble Bee tuna, Chef Boyardee, Vlasic pickles, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Dean's reputation historically really fit well for this.

Narrator: But unlike the first Hostess bankruptcy, in 2012 there was no coming out of it with a simple restructure.

Jhawar: That bankruptcy process was unique because it turned into a true liquidation and what's known as a 363 asset sale process.

Narrator: Basically, what was left of Hostess was sold for parts. Instead of having to inherit that expensive delivery system, underfunded pension plans, and old union contracts, Andy could cherry-pick what he and Dean actually wanted and forget the rest. So the two showed up to the 363 asset sale ready to fight for Hostess.

Jhawar: Not one buyer showed up other than us. Anybody could've showed up and topped our bid, and nobody showed up. It was frankly very surprising to me.

Narrator: Andy and Dean purchased Hostess for $410 million. Out of the sale, they got the Hostess brands including Twinkie, recipes, and five factories.

Jhawar: That's it. There was no employees, there was no ingredients, there was no inventory. And I have to tell you, it was very odd during diligence, walking through plants where, when you walk in, they're empty and the person who's walking me through the plant has to turn on the lights.

Narrator: And, quickly, Andy and Dean got to work fixing the company. First, they tackled that delivery system.

Jhawar: The old company did direct store delivery. We were gonna transform it into a distribution-to-warehouse model. Instead of going direct to every grocery store in America, you then go to Walmart's distribution centers or Kroger's distribution centers instead, and then they ship it out to their various stores.

Narrator: But in order to move Twinkies through a warehouse, they first had to increase the shelf life. Historically, Twinkies only lasted 25 days.

Jhawar: People would put Twinkies in their earthquake shelters because everybody had this perception that Twinkies would last forever. That really, it wasn't the case.

Narrator: Andy and Dean invested millions to develop a Twinkie that tasted the same, but lasted longer.

Jhawar: We were at first able to get the shelf life to 45 days, and then ultimately to 65 days of shelf life. And so that really helped get the retailers comfortable that they could take it into their warehouses and that the product quality would not be compromised.

Narrator: The new recipe and warehouse-delivery model helped cut delivery costs by 20%. It also meant Hostess could affordably deliver Twinkies to drugstores and dollar stores, markets they'd never reached before.

Jhawar: Dollar General became one of our top five customers.

Narrator: Next up, Andy turned to factory efficiency. Andy and Dean wanted to be able to make $1 billion worth of cake yearly, but with a ninth of the labor and a fifth of the factories.

Jhawar: We ended up doing, getting to 85% capacity utilization plus.

Narrator: Finally, the duo worked on innovating the product line with smaller pack sizes and mini Twinkies.

Jhawar: Those products really didn't get the resonance in the marketplace. And so then we just jumped wholeheartedly into embrace the brand, embrace what you are, which is indulgence.

Narrator: The team had to make all these changes in a matter of months. In July 2013, the once dead Twinkies returned to shelves to tons of fanfare.

Broadcaster: The world is a better place tonight because Twinkies are back.

Jhawar: The tagline was, "The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever." It all went viral. It was really kind of unbelievable. A lot of that, frankly, that excitement and buzz, ironically could've never come about if Twinkies never came off the shelf.

Bitter: The trite saying is, what? "You don't know what you've got until it's gone."

Narrator: Twinkies quickly sold out in stores across America.

Jhawar: During our first year, we had $555 million in revenues, from nothing, with profit margins of 27% in a company that lost money and had to go bankrupt twice.

Narrator: By 2015, Hostess was making 1 million Twinkies a day, 400 million a year, and $180 million in profit. At the time, Twinkies made up 80% of the company's product output, and the success just kept rising. In 2016, Apollo and Metropoulos took Hostess public. The IPO valued the company at $2.3 billion, nearly five times what Andy and Dean had paid for it. Apollo and Metropoulos' gamble, that Americans still loved Twinkies, had paid off. But was the beloved snack revived for good?

Jhawar: The stock price has been relatively flat to a little down, but overall the health of the company is very strong.

Narrator: The coronavirus pandemic has helped Hostess.

Bitter: That's because a lot of Americans are buying more food, especially more processed foods. But the key question going forward is, to what degree will that continue? Do they continue eating Twinkies?

Narrator: Alex says adding more limited-time-offer flavorings like peppermint and s'mores Twinkies could help. Or diversifying into new product lines, like Twinkies cereal.

Bitter: Twinkie's a big brand, but at the end of the day, Hostess probably realizes that they need to diversify.

Narrator: And while diversifying certainly might be part of it, Hostess' greatest success has come from leaning into Twinkies' nostalgia.

Jhawar: It'll always have a special place in my heart and my stomach.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published in December 2020.

Watch the video: Miso Butterscotch (December 2021).