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In 1977, Hostess started an ad campaign that featured superheroes fighting crime with fruit pies, Twinkies and cup cakes. As you might imagine, they were insane. Mega-powered beings were facing off against criminals whose plans fell apart every time someone tossed them a snack. Writers had to invent spectacularly ridiculous villains for this to work, and here are the six greatest.

The Borrower!

The Borrower's superpower was leaving signed documentation at the scene of all his robberies. That's like being a regular criminal only easier to convict -- like, suspiciously easier. His escape vehicle is a chatty stroll and he's dressed like an embedded reporter in a war between leprechauns. If a rookie superhero saw The Borrower, he'd probably say, "Oh, fuck. This is all some kind of Make a Wish Foundation stunt. I'm ... I'm dying, aren't I?"

The Borrower's crime spree was doomed from the start, but it's a special kind of shitty luck when you snatch Wonder Woman's purse. She spends most of her superhero days being chloroformed and hogtied by Egg Fu or Baron Blitzkrieg, so a normal guy with a pile of napkins and a pen is like Christmas. It was such a relaxing day of crimefighting that she went shopping before she bothered to put on her costume.

What Message Did This Ad Send?

Hostess-brand snacks were involved in the apprehending of The Borrower, but I don't think we should give them too much credit. At best, Wonder Woman or her pastries gave the arresting officers something to think about while they slept with their wives later. Besides showing a future generation the criminal stupidity of a subprime mortgage-based economy, this ad only drives home how difficult it is to find any kind of practical use for a Twinkie. They're great for lubricating the insides of a digestive system, but if you look at the nutritional information on one, it's just a transcription of a doctor laughing. Twinkies were originally invented to smuggle hog factory runoff into children.

Now that I think about it, why are 60 Twinkies the only thing that Wonder Woman carries in her purse? I guess a comic writer thought about a woman's needs and only came up with "unsaturated fat and dick shapes."

The Roller Disco Devils!

If you were told that you were about to read a '70s Hulk comic about selling pies, this is exactly what you'd expect: Hulk sees some bad guys, disco, Hulk kicks their asses and Hulk enjoys a pie. But after five years of Hostess superhero advertisements, this is the only one with a plot anywhere close to that. That's because there was a strict rule that the superheroes themselves could never eat the snacks. It's one of the many reasons these things are so insane. After all, how does Batman convince you a cupcake is good when he's not allowed to put it in his mouth? Jam it up Robin and kiss him for an hour?

This no-eating-the-snacks rule was so important that you can see in the final panel where someone clumsily erased a fruit pie from the Incredible Hulk's hand, yet they left in the scene where he brutally executed six men over a noise ordinance violation. I mean, this massacre is an overreaction even by Hulk standards:

What Message did this Ad Send?

Hostess fruit pies taste so good that getting between them and children, even unintentionally, is punishable by death. Also, what kind of a city is held hostage by disco roller skaters? The people in that town are such pussies that their water faucets are labelled "Breast Milk" and "Massengil."

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"Spindly" Klutz!

"Spindly" Klutz might have the stupidest origin story in the history of comic books. He wasn't good at football, so they only let him play half the time. This drove him to revenge. What makes football a strange choice for his origin is that there are offensive and defensive squads on each team. So basically, the author picked the one sport where every player only plays half the time. It's not surprising, I guess. If a person's areas of expertise are Green Lantern and Twinkies, his idea of athletics is probably lifting flaps until he finds his penis.

What Message did this Ad Send?

I honestly have no idea. If you tried to type this garbage today, your word processing software would autocorrect it to "I am a fucking idiot." I do wish we knew more about "Spindly" Klutz's insane abilities, though. Are these half-people dying? Is that opaque privacy screen over his victims' internal organs part of his super power, or is flat, gray nothingness just what a human body looks like while it digests a Twinkie?

The Chairman!

Wow, we came into this adventure late. The Chairman has already turned the police into chairs and wait, what? And Spider-Man's trapped and being interrogated about antique chair shipping schedules? I have no idea how the fuck we got here. And I also have no idea why this isn't celebrated by the Smithsonian as history's first Spider-Man story written by a grandmother filled with paint fumes. If they really did this many drugs in the '70s, shouldn't more of us be centaurs?

What Message did this Ad Send?

Twinkies can do anything. The children throw Twinkies at the crime, and by the very next panel Spider-Man is free and the bad guy is a talking chair. Whatever those Twinkies did when we weren't looking, it was complicated and amazing.

This is one of the rare instances where Hostess Twinkies foil a villainous plot by way of their physical properties, not their distracting deliciousness. The skin of a Twinkie is so slippery that if you didn't mind taking a few years off your life, you could suck one through a straw. Look closely at the fifth panel:

One of those golden sponge cakes landed up the barrel of The Chairman's gun! Do you have any idea how much grease you need to have on the surface of an object to slide it into a hole 1/8th its size from 10 yards away? I do, ladies. You should really see some of these X-rays.

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Simon Taylor!

Imagine you wanted to sell fruit pies to children. You hire a writer to come up with an exciting advertisement starring Captain America and he hands you this -- a nightmarish story scripted entirely in puns about a sweatshop owner whose dress patterns are actual screaming human women. Would you ask him to write you a new one? Of course not, because you're in six garbage bags. That guy was a murderer, you idiot. Did he have to come right out and hiss it in your ear while sharpening a knife?

My favorite part of the ad is not where the woman dies in agony as everything she is becomes a dress pattern. It's when Captain America bursts in and Simon's defense is, "OK, busted. I'm up to illegal stuff, but you're probably busy!" Then, instead of rewriting Captain America's genetic code into shrieking paper like he can do, he lassos him with easily breakable measuring tape and steals lunch from one of his workers. Captain America probably runs into this problem all the time at work where he ends up fighting people that are way too awesome to arrest.

What Message did this Ad Send?

The fuck if I know. I've seen enough Gary Busey movies to spot when someone's brain is 80 percent motorcycle accident, but that doesn't mean I can understand what they're talking about.

The Ding-A-Ling Family!

The best thing about superhero fruit pie stories is that they don't have time for setup. This story opens with Norse gods fighting hillbillies in a space R.V. and fuck you if you can't keep up. If they made a movie version of Thor in The Ding-A-Ling Family, it would take 70 or 80 minutes to get to where we already are in one panel and critics would still complain about the density of the script.

I'm not entirely sure what's going on here since half the dialogue is in Thor and the other half is in Appalachian, but from the mentions of "thy familial bonds" and "cousin-power secret weapon," I'm guessing you'd need M.C. Escher to draw the Ding-A-Ling family tree.

What Message did this Ad Send?

What message didn't it send? I can't say enough about the elegance of this writing. In the middle of a fist fight, without a narrator, the author somehow explains to Thor and the readers that if you get your sister pregnant, the babies will be immune to hammers. This writer could adapt The Great Gatsby for a bumper sticker.

Seanbaby invented being funny on The Internet with Seanbaby.com and if you enjoyed these Hostess ads, he documented the shit out of them. You can also enjoy him on Twitter.

For more, see The 5 Worst Comic Sidekicks of All Time, The Dr. Laura Board Game, and Every Women's Magazine Ever.

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