Junk food junkie: peanut butter Ho Hos
The junk food junkie is back kids! And what better time to do one of these posts than October where we gorge ourselves on candy people leave on their desks at work in the guise of sharing when we really know it is all for them. Then culminating on the last of the month when they send kids out to just get more candy at Halloween which they will take from the kids saying it is too much and then pass it off as their own in the plastic pumpkin on their desk until it is empty and they are too cheap to refill on their own when they realize people are just taking it by the handfuls because co-workers are the worst when it comes to free food in the office. Okay, sure, that got dark fast, but seriously, there is a little bit of truth in it.
These days I kind of eschew the candy in favor of baked goods, as you know, and ever now and then make a foray into the world of pastry type junk foods whenever something comes along that catches my eye, much like these peanut butter Ho Hos did.
Hostess has a long memory from my childhood since they are the makers of Twinkies and several other sweet bread with filling type things we used to crush on as kids in the 70’s. I remember Ho Hos fondly as they were pieces of chocolate cake filled with lots of white cream then covered in a layer of chocolate. Basically a bite size variation on a yule log. They also came wrapped in foil to keep them fresh, a real sign of the times for sure as they now come in a plastic baggy. Ho Hos were one of my faves along with Suzy Q’s (which have also made a comeback) though really they were just the sandwich version of the Ho Ho without the chocolate covering. I think I we more a fan of all the cream filling, thus my adult life addiction to frosting. Hey! I gotta blame something!
These days, considering all the issues Hostess has had over the last few years, their products had moved to the background in mind and even when some made reappearances on 7 Eleven shelves, they just didn’t look the same and I really wasn’t interested in trying what seemed to be way smaller and not as tasty versions of my fond childhood memories.
Yet, there I was in a random Walmart (it happens!) when I saw peanut butter Ho Hos on the shelf and couldn’t resist. On a side note, I will say Walmart stores sometimes carry flavors you can’t find anywhere else, including their online store, which kind of sucks for the junk food junkie in me looking to try weird stuff. As for the Ho Hos, I snapped up a box quickly because peanut butter and chocolate, what better combination could there be? Sure, there wasn’t any of that wonderful white cream filling, but I was interested enough to see what this one tasted like. I mean it says “REAL PEANUT BUTTER” right there on the label. As opposed to fake imitation peanut butter flavor of course.
Once out of the box, granted they don’t seem as big as I remember, or maybe as a child I just had small hands and they seemed big. The chocolate coating on the outside seemed more waxy than I remember and had the addition of peanut butter swirls in it, though I’m pretty sure these had some artificial flavor going on. What I remember about the old school Ho Hos is the chocolate used to flake off and every now and then you could actually peel the whole thing off in one sheet. It was like food and a game all in one! With these, not so much. The taste and texture were somewhere between an old candy bar and a Tootsie Roll. It kind of tasted like chocolate, but there was an undertone or aftertaste which said, it was totally all chocolate.
The inside was a bit of a let down. The cake wasn’t nearly as dark chocolatey and moist as I hoped for. In fact, it was on the crumbly side as if they had been sitting around for a bit. And as you can see, there are gaps of space inside where the filling should fill up everywhere, it doesn’t. The peanut butter was also way too sweet. It might have been real, but tasted like they added extra sugar to it. The filling is also not as creamy as you would expect from peanut butter but more matted and thick like you find inside those peanut butter crackers at convenience stores. You can see in the pic how some of it is all pressed together in clumps, something you should not see from your peanut butter unless your are super into K-rations or what not.
To say these were not good is an understatement. Between the dry cake, the clumpy overly sweet peanut butter and waxy coating, it kind of failed on all counts and crushed my childhood taste memories in haze of ickiness. Honestly, I think they might have been better suited to take some peanut butter and then mix it into the regular white cream filling instead of doing just peanut butter. That might have been more interesting and helped fill up the air pockets and possibly keep the cake a little moister than what you get here. In fact, these were so not good, I composted the rest of the box instead of eating them. Sure, the SO was horrified, but I as saving them the horror.
No, these didn’t really crush my tasty food memories of old-school Ho Hos, it really just reinforced how good some of the things we used to have were when we didn’t really care about sugar and preservatives—good times! But it will probably make me more selective on what funky junk food I glom onto next time. Till then, I will just await the return of pumpkin Pop-Tarts, because those were pumpkin-tastic in an artificial flavor I’ll just add more butter kind of way.