Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA


November 30, 2012

The wonder of Wonder Bread and then along came ‘Twinkies,’ ‘Ding Dongs’ and ‘Ho Hos’

CENTERVILLE — It seems the weather has finally changed to more seasonal, colder conditions for this time of year.  I guess this change, helps get everyone into the Christmas spirit as they go about their holiday shopping.

At the recent dinner that was held at the community center everyone that attended, brought a covered dish of food of their choice. The one featured here this week, was brought to the dinner by Connie Casteel. My wife Denise really liked it and Connie graciously gave the recipe to her and allowed me to put it in this column.   It is called:


Connie’s BBQ Kraut



1 Large can sauerkraut # 2-1/2

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 small onion diced

1 cup brown sugar

5 to 6 pieces of Polish Sausage



Drain the sauerkraut and rinse.   In a medium size bowl, add the sauerkraut to the bowl, along with the diced tomatoes, diced onion, and brown sugar. Cut the polish sausage into 1” inch pieces and also add it to the mixture. Blend it all together and place it in a 9” by 13” inch baking pan that is ungreased.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for one to two hours, until it caramelizes.   

With a lot of the news about the famous Hostess Bakery Company going out of business, I thought perhaps a little information about how the company got started might be of interest.

It all began back in 1849 when John Boyd Ward began the Ward Baking Company in New York City.   By 1925 the Company was renamed the Continental Baking Company, when they acquired the Taggart Baking Company that was located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Taggart was the maker of Wonder Bread and the Hostess Brand of snack cakes.

Wonder bread began in 1921 when Elmer Cline witnessed the International Balloon Race at the Indianapolis Speedway.   He saw a multitude of colored balloons being released into the air and he thought that was a real “Wonder”.   At the time, he was the vice-president of the Taggart Baking Company and he was trying to figure out a name to call their, one and a half pound loaf of bread.   So, from him seeing the balloons going into the air, that is how the many circles of color gained their way onto the white bread wrapper, that became known as Wonder Bread.

A  commercial artist named Drew Miller, at an advertising agency in Chicago, took the idea of the balloons and he designed what would become the trade mark wrapper for the new bread that was a “Wonder”.   The new Wonder Bread, made its debut on May 21, 1921 after a marketing ad campaign.   

In 1930 the company was then known as the Continental Baking Company. They were the first commercial bread producer to introduce sliced bread. This inspired the saying, “the best thing since sliced bread.”

By 1933 Twinkies were introduced by the Continental Baking Company in Indianapolis.   The idea for this dessert cake was conceived by one of the company’s bakers, James A. Dewar. At the time, the company produced a crème filled strawberry shortcake  but when the strawberry season was over the machinery set idle. He got the idea to put banana flavored filling  in the cake.   During the Depression they sold two of these Twinkies cakes in a package for only five cents.

Mr. Dewar  began his career by selling pound cake that he delivered by a horse drawn wagon. He was known as “Mr. Twinkie.”   He retired in 1972 and died in 1985 at the age of 88 years old.

Beginning in the 1940s the Continental Baking company was one of the first bread companies to begin to add nutrients to their bread, such as vitamins and minerals.   This eventually led to their slogan “Wonder Bread builds strong bodies 12 ways.”

During World War II, due to a metal shortage because of the war effort, the slicing of their loaves of bread was suspended in 1943 but by the wars end they resumed slicing their loaves of bread in 1945.

Also because of the war, bananas were in short supply so they discontinued making banana filling for their Twinkies and switched over to filling them with vanilla crème and they never switched back.

A few years ago, on an anniversary of the Twinkie for a brief time, they resumed filling the famous cakes with banana flavored filling for a limited time but then returned to vanilla crème filling again.

In 1947 the company introduced their Sno Ball cakes.  The cupcake that is covered in a marshmallow and coconut covered icing.

In the 1950s they promoted their bread by sponsoring the famous children’s television program, Howdy Doody with Buffalo Bob Smith and Clara Belle the Clown.

Bob Keeshan portrayed the first, original Clara Belle the Clown.    He later went on, to be the host of the popular kids show Captain Kangaroo.

Another now famous cupcake was introduced in 1961 by the company.  It was called the Suzy Q, named after the daughter of the Continental Baking Company vice president, Cliff Isaacson.   It is an oblong devil’s food cake with white crème filling on the inside.

By 1967, the company began to also sell Ho Hos and Ding Dong snack cakes. Then, in 1968 the Continental Baking Company was purchased by ITT and became known as ITT Continental.

The Ralston Purina Company was the next company to purchase the favorite bread and snack cake company.   This occurred in 1984.

The company changed hands again in 1995, when it was bought by the Interstate Brands Corporation. They began in 1930 as the Interstate Baking Company in Kansas City, Mo. The new company then became known as Interstate Bakeries.  

By 2004 Interstate Bakeries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  In 2009 they emerged from their financial trouble and were renamed Hostess Brands Inc.

Over the years, this large bread and snack cake company, bought out many other cupcake companies, which included such brand names as Drake‘s Cakes, which had been  producing cakes since 1888. They also acquired Dolly Madison which had began in 1937. Other lesser known companies that they purchased include, the Schall Tasty Baking Company, Kingston Cake Bakery, the Supreme Baking Company and many others.

As the years progressed Wonder Bread introduced new brands of bread including, Whole Wheat and Home Pride among others.

Wonder Bread is sold in Canada by Weston Bakeries Limited and by a company in Mexico called Grupo Bimbo.

Are you aware that you can look at the color of a Twist Tie on a loaf of bread and know what day of the week the loaf of bread was baked? They are color coded. Blue is for Monday, Green on Tuesday, Orange on Wednesday, Red for Thursday and White on Friday.

The company headquarters moved to Irving, Texas near Dallas in 2009 and they changed their name to Hostess Brands, although their operations center was in Kansas City, Missouri.

In January of this year, Hostess Brands filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to financial problems. The company was plagued by labor problems also and could not reach an agreement with its union workers who went on strike. Because of this, on Nov. 16, of this month,  the company came out publicly and announced it will discontinue operations, and lay off upwards of 18,500 employees nationwide.   It has also requested from the Federal Court, to be able to sell off its assets and brand names.

Now, other companies are expressing interest in obtaining the Hostess brand of bakery products.    Such companies as the Philadelphia based Tastykakes, ConAgra Foods, Flowers Foods, and McKee Foods the makers of Little Debbie’s would consider buying the rights to produce these brands of bread and cupcakes.

A Mexican company called Grupo Bimbo who tried to buy Hostess a few years ago may try and buy it, as well as a Canadian Company called Saputo who does business as Weston Bakeries Limited. They both already have the rights to sell the Hostess brand products in Mexico and  Canada respectfully, so they could make arrangements to sell the products in the U.S., if the main company goes out of business.

Currently, the owner of the Hostess brand of snack cakes and breads are owned by the Interstate Bakeries Corporation.   They are a $2.5 billion a year company.   They are also one of the largest wholesale  bakeries and distributors of baked bread and snack cakes in the United States.

The company’s 18,500 employees, man 33 bakeries nationwide. The have 565 distribution centers, 5,550 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores all over the country.

Their line of snack cakes and breads, are some of the most recognized and most well known brands throughout the United States.

So, as the public waits in anticipation to see what is going to happen to the company that produces their favorite kind of cupcakes and confectionary treats, people are left with the prospect of not being able to get their favorite snack cakes at this time.

With this in mind, people have begun to buy these famous cakes and clear store shelves of the product for what may be the last time making them in short supply, if the company ceases operations,    

This has prompted enterprising people, to buy them by the box and offer them for sale, on computer networks sights for extremely high prices. So, everyone will just have to wait and see what happens with this bakery giant, of the bread and snack cake industry.

Recently on Saturday, Nov. 17,  the Royal Neighbors of America, Exline Chapter 3000 hosted a dinner at the community center.   They provided delicious ham, beef brisket and au-gratin potatoes.   Everyone that attended brought a covered dish of their choice and got to enjoy a delicious meal.  

During the evening, the Exline Royal Neighbors president Jean Leach, presented a check to one of its members Freda Sargent, for their Neighbor to Neighbor Project.   It was to help Freda with her Sewing Business.

During the evening, the Exline Royal Neighbors president Jean Leach, also gave out a couple of door prizes that were won by Michelle Carlston and John Heubner.

If anyone would like to help out, they will be wrapping Christmas presents for children, the week before Christmas.   If you would like to stop by or donate to this project, please call (641) 658-2691 for further information.

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The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
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