Childhood nostalgia is a helluva drug. The sights, sounds, and flavors of our youthful formative years trigger powerful associations of the best and worst of times, and when it comes to junky snack food those still-developing tastebuds can hold onto memories of food that was mind-blowing at the time and may or may not hold up to the standard of a full grown and seasoned palate. Among the best examples of such memories are my experiences with snack cakes, which, before I understood the magic that could happen inside of a real oven at 350 degrees, were some of the best things in the world. One of my favorite snack cakes was the Hostess Golden Cupcake, which since the bankruptcy scare in 2013 I hadn’t seen back on shelves, until now. Amidst the slew of mint and berry flavored treats that pop up during the spring are these once semi-standard now semi-rare iteration of the cellophane cupcake that combine frosted yellow cake with a creamy filling and the signature Hostess squiggle.
The cakes look and feel just as I remember – soft and spongy with a greasy sheen that only a true chubby child can appreciate and look at with adoration. The top chocolate layer is hard and much more resembles a shell than frosting, but if it was slick and gooey that would be far too natural and probably make me ill. The smell is sweet and very reminiscent of the Chocodile, or more simply put, chocolate covered Twinkie. Going in for a bite I’m afraid the nostalgia got the best of me as this really does just taste like a chocolate covered Twinkie in hamburger shape instead of hot dog.
The cake itself is moister than what you get with most Twinkies, but it doesn’t have any special yellow cake flavor, and the golden element here is really just bland, sweet cake that does nothing to excite my tastebuds at all. My favorite part of yellow cake is the distinct eggy-ness you taste from the use of tons of egg yolks, and while I knew I wouldn’t get that much of an authentic flavor, I got absolutely none of it and my favorite rare childhood Hostess release is letting me down like when the young aspiring athlete finally meets Tom Brady and he shrugs him off to step into his limousine.
The chocolate layer on the top is also boring, with just a hint of cocoa flavor and a predominantly sweet and grainy texture that adds nothing to the overall experience. The creme filling on the inside is exactly what you would expect it to be, but with the rest of the cake being so bland and sugary single-noted, it loses all of its impact and simply blends into a sea of bleh.
The only other limited cupcake I’ve had since Hostess relaunched is the Pumpkin Spice one, which I thought was really awesome, so I’m not sure if my hopes were too high or nostalgia too strong, but these cakes were an absolute miss for me and another forgettable part of what I thought was great in my childhood.
Found at: Target ($2.99)