Report: Hostess May Have Marketed Unhealthy 'Twinkies' To Minors
by The Onion
WASHINGTON, DC -- According to a controversial Federal Trade Commission
report released Tuesday, food manufacturer Hostess may have
intentionally marketed "Twinkies" -- a dangerous snack cake linked to
obesity and hyperactivity -- to minors.
"There is substantial evidence supporting the claim that, for decades,
Hostess has carried out an aggressive marketing campaign with the goal
of promoting Twinkie use among underage consumers," the FTC report
read. "Our nation's children have been targeted for the consumption of
these fattening, unwholesome cakes at a vulnerable age, before they are
old enough to make responsible decisions about health and nutrition."
The report also stated that "as a result of Hostess' targeting of
minors, millions of young bodies have been exposed to potentially
harmful substances such as fat, sugar, cholesterol, polysorbate 60,
calcium sulfate, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and caramel
Among the questionable Hostess marketing tactics the FTC report cites:
positioning Twinkies billboards in the direct view of schoolyards,
airing Twinkies ads on Saturday-morning TV and, most notably, developing
and aggressively promoting "Twinkie The Kid," a smiling, lariat-wielding
cowboy cartoon mascot shaped like a Hostess Twinkie.
"With Twinkie The Kid, Hostess has deliberately set out to glamorize the
Twinkie-eating lifestyle among our nation's young people," the report
read. "Since Hostess' introduction of this Twinkie-advocating cartoon
spokescake in 1975, use of the product among 12- to 18-year-olds has
risen an alarming 240 percent."
"Eating Twinkies is cool," said Emporia, KS, 16-year-old Jason Warriner,
who has been a Twinkie user since age 11. "I didn't like them at first,
but all my friends were eating them, so I started doing it too because I
wanted to fit in. Now, I love them -- I'm practically addicted."
"Twinkies are the best," said Utica, NY, 14-year-old Chris Petoskey.
"My mom won't let me have them, but I sneak out and eat them behind the
7-11 whenever I get the chance."
Alarmed by the product's rise in popularity among minors, U.S. Sen. John
McCain (R-AZ) recently drafted legislation aimed at curbing underage
Twinkie use. The bill, which allocates $255 million for PSAs and
after-school specials like ABC's recent The Boy Who Liked Twinkies,
would also prohibit the snack cake from being advertised in
youth-oriented publications like Boys' Life and Archie comics.
Additionally, it would also ban the airing of TV ads featuring Twinkie
The Kid before 10 p.m. Similar Hostess characters, including Captain
Cupcake, Chauncey Chocodile, King Don and Fruit Pie The Magician, were
voluntarily pulled from the air in the late '70s amid similar
Hostess received more bad news Tuesday, when 17 states joined together
to file a $206 billion class-action suit to settle claims over the costs
associated with treating overweight Twinkie eaters. The suit is based
on a precedent-setting 1996 case in which a North Carolina jury held
Tastykake responsible for a 460-pound Creme Krimpies addict's death.
Tastykake was ordered to pay the victim's family $950,000, the
largest-ever award of punitive damages in a snack-food-related casualty.
Despite numerous American Medical Association studies linking Twinkies
to obesity, hyperactivity and tooth decay, Hostess officials vehemently
denied that sustained use of their product causes any adverse health
"Contrary to AMA claims, there is no conclusive evidence demonstrating
that regular consumption of Twinkies poses any significant health risk
to the eater," Hostess chief corporate counsel Richard Weingarten said.
"Furthermore, the character of Twinkie The Kid is a thoroughly adult
character who engages only in mature activities not in any way
recommended for children, such as law enforcement and rodeo theatrics.
Twinkies are as safe and socially responsible as they are delicious."
Added Weingarten: "Responsible, consenting adults get a big delight in
every bite of Hostess Twinkies."