Dearest Nerdudes and Nerdamsels,
First and foremost: I want to express my gratitude for the outpouring of concern over the inexcusably-long delay of ‘Mailbag Monday.’ Frankly, I haven’t seen a show of support on this scale since the “Donna Martin Graduates” demonstration care/of Beverly Hills 90210 (the one and only original).
I had no idea how amuck your poor neglected imaginations would run in my absence. So please accept my deepest apologies and allow me to allay your fears — OVERALL — and to these few individuals specifically:
- To Todd B. in Tasmania: I was NOT snatched by a pack of dingos while night-blogging by a “bubbling riverbed.”
- To Horace in New Mexico: I, to the best of my knowledge, was NOT abducted by aliens; although there is the curious matter of that lost time and a sudden sensitivity to infrared light.
- To Bibii in Montreal: I was NOT kidnapped by the Colombian, National Liberation Army (aka E.L.N.) after publishing my previous Medellin-related posts. Though I would be lying if I said this wasn’t the plotline of one of my secret fantasies, only instead of the E.L.N., it’s the E.L.O. that tosses me into their VW campervan and forces me to be their one and only female backup singer:
My laptop was taken into the IT department at my office for a much-needed tune up AND I was without access to my word.DOC files. (Rest assured, all data has now been backed up onto a brain in a jar of formaldehyde).
In the meantime, I can no longer turn the other butt cheek as the holier-than-thou, Bon Appetit-reading, culinary (high) art world maligns the HOSTESS name even as its dead, cream-filled body isn’t even cold yet. Here we have the following, defiling headlines from this week’s blogosphere:
- “Good Riddance, Hostess… All You Did Is Make People Fat”
- “Hostess is Closing and We’re All Better Off”
- “Hooray!!! Hostess Brands Closing For Good”
I get it. Partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil is as offensive to the gourmand palate as a “Your Mama” joke is to a roomful of orphans. BUT I’m sorry. If you’re an average human (i.e. NOT home-schooled), over the age of 25 — you can NOT seriously tell me you’ve NEVER eaten a Ding Dong or a Ho-Ho in your whole entire life?
Think. Think really hard, back to a time of childhood innocence before Twinkies were traded on the playground like cigarettes on the prison black market.
Or maybe there was that post college, cross-country road trip. The one where you let your hair down and broke those strict rules against eating anything made with the same ingredients as sheetrock and hand soap.
Come on. Look me in the virtual eyes and say you know nothing about a certain post-breakup binge, pulling into a 24-hour 711 and grabbing a handful of Sno-Balls, only to sit in the gas-station parking lot scarfing down those fluffy, coconut flaked pastry pillows — singing through sobs and marshmallow gobs to Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares to You.”
Even if you swear to George Burns that your lips have never touched a Hostess product, don’t think you get off scot-free. I hate — no, let me rephrase that… I derive great pleasure from bursting your epicurean bubble when I say:
Luke, who the fructose do you think the father of your fancy foodie cupcake is?
One guess: It rhymes with Yostess…
The cupcake lineage of today can be traced back to 1796, where the first-ever recorded cupcake recipe is listed in the “American Cookery” cookbook. There, it was introduced as a “small cake to be baked in small [earthenware] cups.”
The original cupcake’s merit was based on simplicity and sustenance. A “1234” cake, it was also called, to denote the 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and 4 eggs used to make it.
This was a pastry for the plodder, the Puritan, and the very UN-sensitive palate. It was a glorified biscuit. It’s sole purpose caloric intake. And for 151 years, it stayed that way.
Then, in 1947, marketing guru D.R. “Doc” Rice strutted onto the snack food stage like Patrick Swayze in the final scene of “Dirty Dancing.” He yanked bland “Baby” cupcake out of the corner and brought the whole frill-deprived audience to its feet in one simple act:
“Doc” added the iconic 7-looped-de-loop white-icing swirl to the top of the then unadorned Hostess cupcake.
And so the culinary art of cupcake embellishment was born, and the simple “1234” yellow pastry of yore began its complex evolution into the… wait for it…
Fondant-sculpted, chocolate-lava-spewing, curlicue spiral frosted, glazed, garnished, sprinkled, powdered, peppered, ganache-dipped, crème-, cayenne-, nougat-, jam-filled, herbal tea infused, every flavor known to mankind, alt-wedding dessert, foodie delicacy staple of today.
So, next time you pick up that organic, whole-wheat flour “fairy” cake, peel back that recycled paper-wrapper, and anticipate that first bite doing to your taste buds what Aretha Franklin does to a C-sharp vocal note — remember — you have Hostess to thank for it.
Mailbag Monday returns November 20th’ish.