The Great Hostess Experiment


The Great Hostess Experiment

CREATED Aug 6, 2013

I did not take the news well.  "Hostess to declare bankruptcy, Twinkies are dead."  I can remember seeing the story flicker across my twitter feed and I almost ran directly to the grocery store to load up on enough Ding Dongs to last the nuclear winter.  The next story came along that Hostess would be back but we didn't know when.  In the middle of July, Hostess hit the shelves and my family has enjoyed the sugary goodness ever since.  

While enjoying a post BBQ Twinkie this past weekend, I had the idea of using the Hostess resurrection to do some observational science with my coworkers.  Here's the plan, first I will buy one box of each of the big five types: Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Ding Dongs, Suzy-Qs and Cup Cakes.  Then, I'll send out an email to the entire building offering a Hostess buffet.  

That's when the science begins:

1 - What Hostess type will go first?

2 - How long will it take for all the Hostess to be gone?

3 - Eventually, there will be a coworker who comes running for Hostess and it will all be gone.  What will they say?

I went to the store Monday afternoon and was disappointed at what I saw...what's missing from this picture?

The store did not have Ding Dongs or Suzy-Q's.  Luckily, I had some kleenex with me to wipe away the tear that formed.  I decided to buy two boxes of the three Hostess products they had:  Twinkies, Ho-Ho's and Cupcakes.

 Here's the loot before I sent out the email to our staff (aka the stampede.)  

I had written the email to invite the staff and tipped off my boss that I was going to offer the entire building free Hostess.  She quickly called dibs on a Ho-Ho.  Score one point for those little guys.

Hypothesis:  The Hostess will all be gone within 30 minutes and Twinkies would be the first ones gone.


Total Time:  1 hour, 21 minutes - What?  Check the Spam Filter.  It took over an hour to blow out the Hostess in a building this size?  I can only imaging how long it takes us to respond to stuff that isn't an emergency.  

1 - What Hostess type will go first?  Cup Cakes.   Another huge upset.  There were only 16 total cup cakes versus 20 Twinkies.  I began doing the Twinkie per minute calculations to see if the Twinkies were moving faster than cup cakes.  It was at that moment that I realized the I don't have much of a life and I stopped.  Cup cakes went first and Twinkies were next.  Ho-Ho's were last by a mile.  

3 - Who will come running first?  It only took 1 minute and 27 seconds for the first pair of employees to come kareening around the corner to get their mitts on the snacks.  "Did someone say Hostess?!?!" Enjoy!

4 - Eventually, there will be a coworker who comes running for Hostess and it will all be gone.  What will they say?  The last employee that entered the conference room stammered out a simple "you, you, you mean it's all gone?"  I gave him the bad news and for a moment he just looked at me like their dog ran away.  Moral of the story:  There is never enough Hostess to go around.

Interesting Observations:  

My "Everyone Milwaukee Broadcasting" email group includes some of our team members who work downtown at the Newspaper Building.  About 10 minutes after the email one of our colleagues brought in an intracompany email folder so she could fulfill their request of Hostess by delivery.

Hostess by Mail

A lot of the employees commented on how small the twinkies seemed.  They did seem a little smaller and it turns out that's actually a thing - Twinkies did shrink.  I don't recall being asked for permission do you?  

The Smaller Twinkie

Final Thoughts: 

How did we Hostess go bankrupt in the first place?  (here's a story on their bankruptcy) By all accounts the average person has a deep personal connection to their favorite Hostess product.  Almost everyone had a story to tell about which cake they enjoyed the most.  Smiles all around.

Unlike a real cake in the office, everyone seemed pretty uninhibited.  Most times someone has a birthday cake in the office my coworkers will be very cautious about how big their piece of cake is and they'll comment the whole time about walking or dieting or whatever.  Today there were only two comments about calories.  We also had one box-checker.

The bottom line is that Hostess is childhood in box.  The stories my coworkers had were incredible.  One person told us that she liked to freeze her Ho-Ho's because that's the only way to eat them.  Another talked about enjoying Twinkies after school.  I can remember eating cup cakes with my sister in Mom's kitchen after dinner.  Who wouldn't race to the store as soon as possible to scoop up memories like that off the shelves?