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The Search for a Twinkie Knockoff

It came as a shock to all of us. Sure, Hostess had been having financial difficulties for years, but none of us thought it would come to this. Nobody wanted to imagine a world devoid of Twinkies. It seemed almost…sacrilegious. Yet in November of 2012, Hostess announced that it was ceasing the production of all baked goods. The result was mass hysteria. (Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration.) Crowds rushed to their local supermarkets and delis in search of their favorite snack foods, finding nothing but empty shelves. The last remaining Hostess products were speedily purchased by hungry customers with an insatiable appetite for Twinkies and Wonder Bread.

So what does this mean for you and me? All of the Twinkies are gone. I’ve tried telling everyone that this is surely a sign of the apocalypse, but few seem to believe me. How is the human race supposed to survive without our delicious cream-filled sponge cakes? Luckily, a few other snack food manufacturers have expressed interest in purchasing the Hostess recipes in order to continue production of our favorite sugary treats. However, the transition will undoubtedly be slow and difficult, preventing the starving people from getting their Twinkie fix. In times like these, we look for something to fill the gap. Can another snack food step up the plate and take the place of the Twinkie?

Twinkie knockoffs are nothing new. They’ve always been on the shelf, right next to the Hostess products, but they’ve always seemed a bit insulting. Why should I pay a dollar less for some cheap Twinkie imitation? No sir. Give me the real stuff. Despite our animosity toward these bizarro-Twinkies, I’m afraid we have no choice at the moment. If we want to come close to tasting a Twinkie, we must consume the clones. Therefore, I’ve gone to my local grocery stores in search of knockoff Twinkies. Which brands come closest to the real thing? Which ones should you avoid? Before I begin critiquing the cakes, I just want to state that this is by no means a full list of Twinkie clones. I’ve heard of Cafe W Gold N Cremes, Mrs. Freshley’s Gold Creme Cakes, and Marinela Submarinos, but I was unable to locate these products in the wild.

Little Debbie Cloud Cakes

Alright, Little Debbie. This Twinkie shortage is your time to shine. You’ve never let me down in the past, so let’s see what you’ve got.

Little Debbie gives us Cloud Cakes. The colorful box beckons us with its picture of that delectable white filling we’ve come to know and love. The actual Cloud Cake snack looks pretty similar to a Twinkie. Though not quite as dark as the underside of a Twinkie, the bottom even has those three holes where the filling gets shot in.

The smell is spot-on. I would bet money that I would be unable to tell the difference between a Cloud Cake and a Twinkie by smell alone. The texture of the cake is very close as well. Soft and spongy, just like a cloud. (Hey, I bet that’s how they chose the name!) It has that bounce to it that a Twinkie should have. There doesn’t seem to be as much cream inside of the cake though. As a result, it seems a bit more dry than a Twinkie feels when chewed. The taste is pretty close, though: sweet and creamy, not overwhelmingly sugary. The filling is light and fluffy, like it should be. Overall, I find the Cloud Cake to be a very good imitation of the Twinkie. I would have no problem eating all ten of these in one sitting.

Blue Bird Bingles

I don’t know about you, but Blue Bird is not a name I recognize when it comes to baked goods. Nevertheless, I ran across this box of Bingles by Blue Bird Bakeries while shopping at a local A&P supermarket. First of all, I just want to mention that I love the name. I can totally see a group of Blue Bird executives (probably wearing blue suits, because that would be funny) gathered around a table in a conference room trying to come up with an ingenious name for their soon to be released knockoff Twinkies. Golden Cakes? No, too obvious. Sponge Creams? Nope, that sounds disgusting. Cream Sticks? Also gross. Then, one of the men shouts it out: Bingles! Pure genius. It’s like they really needed a name with the same nonsensical flare as “Twinkie.” Well, they found it.

The smell is just as close to that of a Twinkie as the Cloud Cakes. In appearance, the Bingle is not a perfect clone. The bottom of the cake is not quite dark enough, and there’s four holes instead of three. When it comes to taste, the Bingles are a bit disappointing. The cake is not as fluffy or soft as a Twinkie. The taste of the sponge cake is pretty close, but the texture is what ruins it. It’s too dense; I’m afraid it needs to be more airy and soft to receive my approval. Just like the Cloud Cakes, there doesn’t seem to be enough cream inside. You would think four holes means more filling, but unfortunately, it does not. The cream’s taste is pretty close, though.

Great Value Golden Crème Cakes

I’ve heard good things about these Great Value Golden Crème Cakes. Several internet searches and a recommendation from a friend inform me that this brand of Twinkie knockoffs stocked by Wal-Mart is top-notch. The box is relatively minimalist, lacking the excessive decoration and vivid colors that so often adorn snack food containers. The actual cakes appear slightly darker than a Twinkie, and much darker than they appear on the Golden Crème Cake box. The bottoms contain the necessary three cream filling insertion holes: this is a good sign.

The smell is right on the money. The cake is soft and tasty, yet lacks the sponginess of a Twinkie. The cream is pretty close in flavor and texture, and there is the perfect amount of filling inside of the cakes. They’re not quite as sweet as the Little Debbie Cloud Cakes, but they’re still missing that fluffiness of the cake I’m looking for in a Twinkie. Not a bad clone though.

Weight Watchers Golden Sponge Cakes

These are a complete joke. I’m not really sure why I’m including them here, but I think they’re supposed to be like Twinkies for people who have already eaten too many Twinkies.

The box doesn’t make them look appealing at all. They’ve tried sprinkling some raspberries on the plate along with the cakes, but nothing can make these look tasty. I was hoping that they might look better in real life than in the picture on the box, but they don’t. They’re about half the size of real Twinkies and more rectangular in shape. There are only two cream holes on the bottom. Two! That’s nowhere near enough. They smell somewhat like flour and they taste very dull. The cake is nowhere near as spongy as a Twinkie and tastes more like pound cake. The cream is miserable. Its consistency is all wrong, there is nowhere near enough, and the taste is off. I even found the cream leaking out the side of one of these cakes. I understand that these are supposed to be healthier than a normal snack, but they’re just terrible. Really, really terrible. Avoid these at all costs.

The Results

Do we have a victor? Unfortunately, no. I’m going to have to say that it’s a tie between Little Debbie Cloud Cakes and Great Value Golden Crème Cakes. They both came so close to Twinkie stature that it’s hard for me to rank one over the other. As a result, I urge you to pick up a box of either brand if you’re looking to satisfy your Twinkie craving, and I strongly recommend you stay away from the Weight Watchers brand.

I began this article with a hunger for Twinkies. Thirteen hundred words later, I’ve experienced way more Twinkie knockoffs than any person should ever experience.

I’m going to go vomit yellow spongecake now. Goodnight.