Little Debbie vs. Hostess

Carter Uslabar, Editor in Chief

If America had a backbone, it would be made out of individually packaged cake snacks.

Unless you grew up in a household where some self-righteous figure regularly lapsed into refrains of “I’m not feeding my kids that crap,” or where organic foods were the norm before it was a trend, odds are you have some experience with such cake-based snacks as will be reviewed below.

Here, I’ll be reviewing four pastry snacks: two from Hostess, and their respective counterparts from Little Debbie. My observations were based on the following criteria: the taste and quality of the cake’s body, the frosting’s taste and quality, and the creme interiors.

One thing you must understand, if you’re to go any further with this reading, is that the term ‘moist’ is going to be used quite a lot. It’s my understanding that particular word makes some folks rather queasy, but for a discussion of cakes, it’s absolutely essential. And frankly, “wetness” or anything else is just as unappetizing. We can get through this together, dear reader.

Little Debbie’s Creme-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

The quality of the cake body on this is really rather impressive for a prepackaged cake snack. The moisture and density of the cake make for what is a surprisingly rich taste.

The pastry is dense, far different from a Zebra Cake or something with what I’d call a light, or airy quality to the cake.

The taste of the Little Debbie cupcake is nothing spectacular, or out of the ordinary, but it certainly isn’t the worst. For a prepackaged cake snack, it’s good.

Little Debbie’s cupcake’s frosting is one of its strongest qualities. It’s not excessive; in fact, it sits right in the Goldilocks zone of being just the right amount for the pastry. Any more and it would distract from the cake, and less and it wouldn’t enhance the cake’s flavor.

I would describe the frosting as more of a “true chocolate” flavor, like that of a chocolate candy, rather than something chocolate flavored. The frosting, like the cake, has a very rich, smooth mouth-feel, and is what brings this pastry from a middling, average snack-cake, to a slightly-above-middling snack-cake.

The interior creme is really the Little Debbie cupcake’s bane. I have no doubt it’s a great feat of engineering to commercially manufacture such delicate pastries, but for a company of this size and caliber, I was surprised at how underwhelming the interior creme was. For each pastry, there is about one bite’s worth of creme, if that, which simply leaves too much cake.

The Little Debbie Creme Filled Chocolate Cupcakes are not a bad cake snack, but they need balance. Right now, they have none, but still are not a terrible choice.

Hostess CupCakes

Right off the bat, it’s important to understand that CupCakes are a totally fraudulent snack. They are an imposter of the Little Debbie Creme Filled Cupcakes, which isn’t even a particularly high bar, yet the CupCakes fall so pathetically and embarrassingly short.

By way of appearance, they’re nearly identical to their Little Debbie counterparts. Nothing wrong with this, but it’s important to know when you’re hastily swiping at a shelving unit while in a blind terror of hunger.

The CupCakes are about a centimeter or so shorter than the Little Debbie Creme Filled Chocolate Cupcakes, and the curlycue of frosting across the top is more of an off-white, compared to the Little Debbie’s pale, bright white. They’re both very oily to the touch, and even come packaged in similar flimsy plastic trays.

Very similar in appearance, certainly, but one bite and there can be no mistaking one for the other. I took one bite into the CupCake and was smacked right in the olfactory bulb by what can only be described as “Scent of Windex.”

Sometimes in life, signs fall in your lap like that. Did I promptly place the remainder of the CupCake back into its packaging, and then place that packaging in the nearest waste bin? You bet.

It should be noted, however, that while the CupCake is an obviously inferior product to the Little Debbie Creme Filled Chocolate Cupcakes, the CupCake did have a far more appropriate creme-cake ratio.

Little Debbie Swiss Rolls

The Swiss Roll from Little Debbie is one of the most iconic of the snack pastries. With the aim of conjuring an image of European luxury, taste, and tradition, the Swiss Roll stands our from other pastries marketed more blatantly with bright colors and ‘engaging’ typefaces.

The Swiss Roll is not particularly moist, yet it finds itself occupying a space I am not even sure how to describe. It’s not dry. It’s soft, but also somehow firm. Whatever it is, the Swiss Roll has a light, airy quality to it, rendering it perfectly pleasant for consumption.

By way of frosting, the Swiss Roll is the best of those reviewed here. It has an incredibly thin coating of frosting, which typically shatters and cracks from the cake body of the snack like some honorable chocolate armor.

The interior creme of the Swiss Roll is by far the best for one reason: it’s almost identical from pastry to pastry. With a mechanized production, one would expect each pastry to be indistinguishable from the next, yet this is so often not the case.

Not only is the creme filling consistent, it also the proper creme-cake ratio, making the Swiss Roll the obvious choice for cake snacks.

Hostess Ho-Hos

Let me be clear: I don’t have anything good to say about Hostess’ Ho-Hos. They bring reprehensible shame to the cake snack industry.

Ho-Hos are a lousy predecessor to the Swiss Roll. One might think this a good thing. Sequels are always worse, right? Incorrect.

Ho-Hos are a rough draft that have never seen any much-needed revisions. They are flat, crumbling rolls of disappointment. The cake body had such a lack of moisture it was dryer than Utah during prohibition. If I had to guess the main ingredients of Ho-Hos, I would guess chronic major depression and failure.

In these times of great societal division, we can all agree on this: regardless of what one’s political beliefs, religion, gender or gender expression, economic class, sexuality, race, creed or age, nobody — and I mean nobody — should be subjugated to eating a package of Ho-Hos.

Shame on you, Hostess.