Comic readers of a certain age will all remember the advertisements of the Bronze Age, a time when comics were filled with Super Gifts & Gimmicks, Stamps of Many Lands and the chance to earn valuable prizes with Grit!  Today, many comics contain only house ads for other comics (which might be seen as a metaphor for the state of comics themselves), but back in the day, major companies would shell out major bucks to huck their products in the pages of the comic books we loved, including the much-lamented Continental Baking Company…

Purveyors of fine shellacked cakes and pies, Continental Baking had a number of products: Hostess Fruit Pies, in a variety of flavors; Hostess Twinkies, yellowy logs of spongecake filled with an unknown substance; as well as the perfection of the spiral-frosted Hostess Cupcake, a fudgy chunk of Nirvana that I will very occasionally still indulge in today.  Back before the days when all foods had to be adjacent to a balanced breakfast, the heroes of our comics (as well as The Joker and The Penguin) would engage in saving the world with processed sugar, and Wonder Woman being one of DC’s top properties get in on the act as well.  Of course, many of the villains brought it on themselves, such as The Baron, whose plan was so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel…

WW1

I certainly understand the desire to control the world’s chocolate supplies (especially the good stuff, not that waxy mess they sell at the Kwik Shop), but I fail to see how he would have monetized it.  Of course, not all the villains on what I call Earth-H (for Hostess, duh?  Some prefer Earth-D, but I know better than that, as I know the causes of Diabetes Mellitus…  Bygones) have such rational thought-processes.  Take the giant monster known as Cooky La Moo…

WW2

This particular Hostess ad was insidious and pervasive, as I swear it appeared in dozens of comics, month after month, though it may have just been in the books that I read at the time.  Interestingly, this one features “Steve Howard”, the alias used by Colonel Steve Trevor during the time between his first and second deaths, as well as the dark hair that was ostensibly a disguise, but was actually to make him look more like Lyle Waggoner from the television show.  Also, this strip in no way makes even the slightest lick of sense, and leaves a giant living sign floating around.  Someday, somebody is going to make her a super-villain in Wonder Woman’s own books, and that man or woman will be a hero to me and about three other guys.  Sometimes, though, a super-hero is dealing less with a villain and instead with a natural disaster…

WW3

Also, note that the people of the train didn’t get out after Wonder Woman saved the children.  That’s because they’re all extremely dead from deceleration, possibly even liquified.  But, GOLDEN SPONGE CAKE!  The villains of Earth-H are a strange lot (you should look up Babyface, who tried to beat up Daredevil once because reasons), but few are as seemingly benign as The Borrower…

WW4

You can call yourself a Borrower all you like, sir.  You’re a purse-snatcher, at best, with oddly pristine credit.  Of the Hostess options available, Wonder Woman uses the power of Twinkies to compel her foes most often, probably because of their resemblance to the golden tones of her magic lasso.  (Or, because the guys writing these things banged them out over three-beers to make a buck, either/or…)

WW5

After getting dissed so heavily in panel three, Wonder Woman shows her true compassion by not beating the stuffing out of our would-be treasure-pirates, a moment which shows us that her legendary compassion crosses even dimensional boundaries.  Also, this strip makes it crystal clear that it is completely senseless to try to figure out how her legendary invisible plane works, and only a fool would try.  Still, logic takes an even bigger beating when Wonder Woman steps in to help NASA out in her next adventure…WW6

Sadly, by this point, Hostess had phased out the Peach Pie, because I might have been able to put together some sort of joke out of that.  Either way, even though the astronauts had lost track of Earth, they were able to follow the trail of pie to a safe splashdown and a nice snack with a beautiful Amazon princess.  Chalk one up for science, I guess?  Our last installment has a nice noir feel to it (for some values of noir, anyway)…

WW7

That adventure has more dialogue than some entire ISSUES of modern titles (except for Bendis books), and has a few nice references to the movie version of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ as well, making for a weirdly layered experience for a dessert commercial.  The Hostess ads were only actually in circulation for about five years, but thanks to their memorable execution (and also to the back-issue market, I’m sure), they’re still fondly remembered by comics nerds today. Batman and Spider-Man handled the bulk of the heroic duties in the Hostess Ads, but even the likes of Captain Marvel, the OTHER Captain Marvel and the Red Tornado got to throw in their hand as well, proving once and for all that the most powerful force in the universe is sucrose itself!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go get me some Hostess cupcakes in the hopes of meeting Wonder Woman.

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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3 Comments

  1. Ian
    October 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm — Reply

    I miss these!

  2. October 25, 2014 at 4:28 pm — Reply

    I remember these! Many of them were around still in late 80’s when I got my dirty little hands on the first american comics, thanks to one local department store with excellent magazine selection back in the day.

  3. October 26, 2014 at 9:43 am — Reply

    There was a time I hated these ads. I wasn’t able to eat any of those snacks while I was going through treatment for Leukemia, so they were just reminders of something I couldn’t have. It wasn’t until I was in my teens (right about the time they started disappearing) that I really started to enjoy seeing the ads. They are kinds like the movies on MST3K, so bad they are good.

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