Hostess Cupcakes: Edible icons

August 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Food

Written by Samuel Phineas Upham

1919 was an exciting time for America. The Roaring Twenties were set to kick off, ushering in an era of prohibition and big band music. It was also the same year that a company called Hostess released a snack cake called “The Cupcake.”

For the early 1920s, Cupcakes were sold individually and hand frosted with either a chocolate or vanilla frosting. Some Cupcakes were available with malted milk icing, and orange Cupcakes debuted around this time as well. Hostess had higher aspirations for the cake and hired D.R. “Doc” Rice to redesign the product. He’d been hired at the company to cake dump, which meant that he took trays of cakes and dumped them onto a table to be frosted.

He first improved the dough using the ample ingredients available to him, then he took the filling concept of the Twinkie and applied it to the Cupcake. The loops on the Cupcake, which are like its signature flair, should amount to exactly seven according to Rice. That way, the customer would get a sense of both branding and quality of the product. He also used real chocolate in his frosting as well.

The Cupcakes were an immediate success. Wholesale price jumped by two cents and retail price followed suit. Doc Rice retired from Hostess in 1972, but he continued working well into his life as a consultant for other bakeries. Hostess, despite financial difficulties, has managed to stay in business with newly designed versions of hit products like the Twinkie, Cupcake and Zinger.

Samuel Phineas Upham

Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Samuel Phineas Upham website.


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