You know, the cream filled, chocolate covered, chocolate cake, hockey puck shaped things from Hostess.
When I was little, they were called Ding Dongs. Then they became King Dons. Then they were Ding Dongs again, then King Dons again. Now they’re back to being Ding Dongs again. Why all the name changes?
The story I was told long ago was that the chocolate ones became King Dons when they incroduced the orange (and short-lived) ones as Ding Dongs. Even if this was true, why change the name of the chocolate ones?
I have a memory of them being called “Big Wheels”. Their logo character was a very un-PC “Chief Big Wheel”, complete with feathered headress and a vocabulary with “Ugh” and “How” in it. Not hard to see why they changed it, although they don’t taste the same not having the same name I first drooled over them by.
Thanks bibliophage. 1987 is about the time I noticed the switch and switch back.
On a side note, my wife bought a box of them a few months ago. My first Ding Dongs in a decade. Unfortunately, they’re packaged in individual paper wrappers, not the individual foil wraps they used to have. No more foil thrones. No more trying to smooth out the wrinkles to make a little foil square. :sigh:
I live in california, and they’ve always been ding dongs, but i’ve heard that in the 80s, a bunch of fundamentalists got themselves in an uproar because “ding dong” was a slang term for penis. so hostess changed the name to “king dons” in the south and midwest, while leaving “ding dongs” alone in parts of the country where nobody much cared whether or not unhealthy chocolate sugar snacks might be confused with a cock.
Eventually hostess changed the name back in the south, once the uproar died down. Where do you live?
I’m not sure what truth their is to the story, but it seems reasonable enough.
The “competitor” on the East Coast is none other than Drake’s bakery, and their doppleganger product are those fine chocolatey hockey pucks called “Ring Dings.” (See them square off against each other and the R.C. Cola of snack cakes, Little Debbie here.) Naturally, you can see why there might be some confusion between the two names, although I think a Congressional investigation into the inexplicable suffusion of the letter ‘g’ in both names. In fact, there is an eerie concordance of products between the two companies-- Ring Dings vs. Ding Dongs; Ho-Ho’s vs. Yodels, etc.
Drake’s Bakeries got started in New Jersey in the 1930’s or so, and were a powerful competitor of Hostess in the Northeast for years. (Remember Elaine jonesing for a “Drake’s Coffee Cake” in a Seinfeld episode?) However, Drake’s was bought out by the parent corporation of Hostess, Insterstate Bakeries, about a decade ago, and the Drake’s name is merely preserved for goodwill purposes.
It would be entirely possible for Interstate to collapse the two brands and just sell Ding Dongs under one brand and name, but for whatever reason, they choose not to. As you can see from the link above, some people have very heated preferences for the product of their childhood and will vehemently defend the Drakes version over the Hostess product (or vice versa), when, in reality, there is very little difference at this point.
Does anyone have any more information on Big Wheels? Those were the snack cake of choice of my childhood (there’s many a “lunch” I had in high school that was merely a package or two of Big Wheels).
They were Hostess, too (Chief Big Wheel was really pally with Twinkie the Kid on saturday morning TV), and they seem to have been the same basic chocolate-hockey-puck snack cake as the Ding Dong/King Don.
Does anyone else remember these?
The hostess web page Who Is King Ding Dong? is not as helpful as one might hope, sweeping the whole matter under the rug with a “We are all Ding Dongs now.” I clearly remember buying and eating two-packs of Big Wheels in the early '80s in New Jersey, which doesn’t seem to fit with their all-Gaul-is-divided-into-three-parts explanation.
You know, I’ve never eaten either King Dons or Ding Dongs, but if I’d known they were really Big Wheels, I would have. (Loyalty to a single snack food cake is a strange and wonderful thing.)