As you’ve probably surmised from prior articles, this is an amazing year for Halloween junk food. It’s everywhere! And so much of it is really, really good!
…even the bigwig mainstays aren’t resting on their laurels, as evidenced by Hostess’s new TRIO of Halloween treats. (Oh, and if you remember last year’s Scary Cakes and Glo Balls — yep, those are back, too!)
Hostess normally spends the Halloween season providing their snacks with nifty “costumes.” This year, they’ve shifted the focus to exploring all-new flavors. If I had to describe the new collection in one word, it’d be “gourmand,” but spoken with a fake French accent and needlessly drawn-out.
All are limited edition, and there’s no telling if any will be back in 2016. The fact that I may become part of a relatively small pool of people who can accurately lay claim to having firsthand experience with Pumpkin Spice Twinkies? I can’t lie: It makes me proud.
Leading the pack are new Pumpkin Spice Twinkies, which are, oddly enough, a Kroger exclusive. Since I live nowhere near any Kroger stores, I’ll admit that this is one of the few times I’ve exploited my site’s modest reach for review samples. If I was going to sell out, of course it’d be over Halloween Twinkies.
While at first appearing no different than regular Twinkies, it’s a whole different story once you reach the pumpkin spice filling. The light brown cream is flecked with mocha highlights, stinking like a hot pie but tasting faintly like cinnamon. Pumpkin spice has a way of drawing out the sophisticado in even the goofiest snacks, and Twinkies are not immune: These call for $60 tablecloths and gold forks.
The Kroger exclusivity is a pain in the ass, but it does make them feel more… well, exclusive. (If you’ve been geographically screwed, you can currently find them on eBay for around ten bucks per box.)
Next — and somehow very different — are Hostess’s Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes. They look incredibly autumnal, right down to the cake color being comparable to dead leaves. (Fittingly, they’re topped not just with icing, but with doses of leaf-shaped candy sprinkles.)
With the Twinkies, an argument can be made that Hostess only embraced pumpkin spice in the barest way. Here, it’s an assault. From smell to appearance to flavor, it’s tough to imagine eating these at any other time of year.
Personally, I found the flavor a bit too “sharp,” as if I was tricked into eating serious cake instead of a cupcake. (I hope that makes sense.) This is what you munch on when you’re drinking expensive coffee and wearing a cashmere robe — not when you’re kicking back with a beer and Basket Case 2.
Last up are Candy Corn Cupcakes, available exclusively at Target. The Pumpkin Spice Twinkies are bigger news, but I was way more excited about these. If pressed, I could only blame alliteration.
What I like most about ‘em is that they feel like “regular” Hostess cupcakes — the kind of snacks you could eat six of in one sitting, which isn’t recommended unless you’re having one of those days where the whole world sucks and the only conceivable respite is fuck-it-all gluttony.
The candy corn flavor is there, but it’s not so pronounced that you’ll go through every bite with your brain’s typewriter spitting out “CANDY CORN,” as if you were, spiritually, a plumper Jack Torrance. For people like me — people who appreciate candy corn more for decorative purposes than for taste — this is a good thing.
When you finished all the pizza but the pizza wasn’t enough: Candy Corn Cupcakes.
When you want to equate eating junk food with finding a rare power-up in Popular Video Game IV: Pumpkin Spice Twinkies.
When Grandma comes over and Grandma wants tea: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes.
Nice work, Hostess!