You’ll get a big delight in every bite of our latest collection! Welcome to Ten Things: Ten Hostess Villains!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with An Amateur Comics Historian and Twinkie The Kid, Presents:
TEN THINGS: TEN HOSTESS VILLAINS!
This time around, a little bit of background: Starting in 1930, the Interstate Bakeries Corporation distributed a dazzling array of sweet baked goods across the U.S. and around the world, including Twinkies Ding Dongs, various flavors of Fruit Pie and the wonder that is their devil’s food Cupcake. The ad campaigns for these were, for some reason, huge, including cartoon mascots on television and a long-running campaign using real comic book characters that ran from 1975 to 1981 in comics from Marvel, DC, Harvey, Archie and Gold Key publications. You may remember Wonder Woman fighting a giant neon sign or Spider-Man battling a Vulture lookalike called The Legal Eagle. Heck, one of the Hostess villains, Icemaster, actually made his way into comics as part of the Crimson Cowl’s Masters of Evil. But what other foes did our heroes battle with the power of fats and sugars?
10) THE PLANT KINGDOM
It’s unclear how Bruce Banner’s alter-ego ended up in the clutches of Cousin Betsy, The Plant Lady and her pals: Rhoda Dendron, Mari Gold and Artie Choke. When Hulk characteristically reminds his new “friend” that he just wants to be left alone, she sics her plant friends on the Green Goliath, leading to chaos. Strangely, rather than defeat the villains WITH Fruit Pies, the Hulk reigns supreme because the already HAVE a hidden cache of Fruit Pies that they want to protect. It’s… actually a little less coherent than the usual Hostess nonsense.
9) ELECTION INTERFERENCE
Since his patriotic fervor lends itself well to political stories, this wild Captain America tale purports that two red-faced aliens are ready to spike the 1976 Presidential Election by manipulating the weather patterns. The villains are brought down as Cap sows discord into their partnership by convincing flunkie Cronon that his boss Stormrider is about to throw his over to steal all the Fruit Pies for himself! Together, hero and underling bring down the (exquisitely designed) big bad with the power of Apple, Cherry and Lemon!
Also worth noting: This ad was printed in 1977, meaning that the election had already come and gone.
8) THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
One of the earliest Hostess outings (which means that they hadn’t spun entirely off the rails just yet) featured a corrupt music producer who wanted to use the talents of The Archies to save his skin after spending all his money on Hostess Cupcakes, enough to feed an army. All’s well that ends well, as Archie and the gang put their talents on tape in return for their own helping of the devil’s food treats! It’s weird that Betty went from “Call the cops!” to “Gimme some cake, y’all!” in the space of a few panels, though. That’s the power of fudgy goodness, Faithful Spoilerites.
7) THE LITERAL DEVIL (AND HIS AUNTIE)
Speaking of devil’s food, didja ever wonder how the cake got it’s name? I honestly have no idea, but I imagine it was the same thought process that made one of Harvey’s secondary protagonists a demon in a diaper. (For the better part of FIFTY years, no less!) Since it’s a Harvey Comic, though, this conflict between demonic presences of the hoary netherworld is almost wholesome, ending with them sharing a yummy treat and finishing the laundry together. Since the demons all seem to wear diapers, I wonder if that’s what the laundry is? If so, she must have one heck of a bleach.
6) THE WORLD’S LARGEST FLEA MARKET
Alien warrior Mar-Vell’s relatively short run fell across the peak Hostess years, meaning that Captain Marvel-but-not-THAT-Captain Marvel makes several appearances saving the day with Twinkies. As for the plot of this one, I… got nothin’.
But hey, flea puns! (Mar also faced down Nitro, the villain whose powers gave him fatal cancer, in a different ad, but I’m still too upset to revisit that one.)
5) EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION
Mar-Vell wasn’t the only Captain Marvel to face down evil with the power of snack cakes, as Billy Batson got in the act, too. With old-school Fawcett villain Aunt Minerva reimagined as a Bea Arthur lookalike whose mind control machinery makes for must-see TV, Her miscalculation comes in misunderstanding how much kids like Billy love their sweet, spongy sugar treats,
Seriously, though, she looks remarkably like Maude!
4) BABY FACE JOHNNY
A slip of the lip throws Daredevil into conflict with a professional boxer who is described as “nearly as strong as the Hulk”, which I’m pretty certain means that he’s waaaay too dangerous to be involved in punching regular humans. After a full page of fighty-fighty and the destruction of an entire gym, Daredevil straight-forwardly distracts the villains with Fruit Pies (though by this point, the Lemon and hard-to-find Peach flavors were discontinued), ending the whole mess with a “joke” and the clear message that it was kind of a waste of time. Still, the mention of DD’s dad Jack Murdock makes this one more continuity-minded than most Hostess ads, where heroes could be wildly out of character for no reason.
3) THE MOVIE ‘JAWS’
With a title that seems to be a pun on the word “bitch” (I’m only half-sure that it isn’t, to be honest) and a clear reference to Amity Beach from Steven Spielberg’s debut film, this one is absolutely not aimed at the usual kids market. With an honest-to-Poseidon punch seen on-panel, it also has more action that most Hostess ads and there’s at least a bit of story to be had. I’m not sure who the inker is (maybe George Tuska?) but that’s clearly legendary Superman/Legion penciler Curt Swan’s work, too.
2) THE MUSIC INDUSTRY (AGAIN)
With sixteen appearances out of three-hundred-fifty-some episodes, Batman makes a strong showing at the top of the Hostess heap, (Superman did ten, though Spider-Man made more than twenty.) This one features another unscrupulous music type who has stolen the musical prowess of Rich Jaggard, Jim Colorado and Elfish Hipsley and is well on the way to getting The Three Bottles as well. For those not fluent in comic book equivalent nonsense, that would be Mick Jagger, John Denver, Elvis Presley and The Four Tops, though which one of those characters the artist thought looked like Jesus of Nazareth is unclear.
1) COSMIC HILLBILLIES
Weirdly, the Goddathunda himself put in six appearances in Hostess Ads, though none was ever as inexplicable, hilarious or memorable-for-the-wrong-reasons as this one. Were they inspired by The Beverly Hillbillies? Or the Dalton family from ‘Laff-A-Lympics’? Was the idea that hillbillies could attack the golden spires of Asgard one of those things that could only make sense in the 1970s, like ‘Inch-High, Private Eye’, Mork from Ork or the career of Scott Baio? There’s something about these characters that is iconic, like Horschack and Hawkeye and Doctor Johnny Fever, and they would be perfect villains for Chris Hemsworth’s next outing in the MCU!
Thanks to Faithful Spoilerite Bruce Greewood (@el_zoof) for this week’s topic. Feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra for more Ten Things madness on Twitter or check out the full Twitter archive here! (To check out Wonder Woman’s days as Hostess hero, you can check here!) As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, especially given the sheer number of Hostess ads they put out over the years. Either way, the comments section is Below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!