How Deep Fried Twinkies came to be

by Monica Watrous
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Deep Fried Twinkies, Wal-Mart
Hostess Deep Fried Twinkies are debuting in 4,000 Wal-Mart stores nationwide this week.
Photo courtesy of Wal-Mart

BENTONVILLE, ARK. — Hostess Deep Fried Twinkies are debuting in 4,000 Wal-Mart stores nationwide this week. Available in original golden and chocolate, the frozen, ready-to-heat treats from Hostess Brands L.L.C. were developed in collaboration with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., said John Pearson, senior buyer for frozen foods at Wal-Mart U.S.

“When I started as a buyer for frozen snacks at Wal-Mart a few years back, I knew there was a desire to push the envelope on the products we offer,” Mr. Pearson wrote on a corporate blog. “Part of the way we do that is by working with our suppliers, helping them further refine items they’re testing so we can bring them to market.

“So when I heard rumblings that Hostess was considering a deep-fried Twinkie, I was intrigued. Not only was it something different for the frozen aisle — it filled a need, too, as we were looking to add more dessert choices to our mostly savory assortment.”

Deep Fried Twinkies, Wal-Mart
John Pearson, senior buyer for frozen foods at Wal-Mart U.S., said Deep Fried Twinkies were developed in collaboration with Wal-Mart.
Photo courtesy of Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart met with Hostess Brands to discuss the potential of the state fair-inspired dessert, which aligns with Wal-Mart’s philosophy of making shopping fun and exciting, Mr. Pearson said.

“I talked about the way this product appeals to everyone: from the boomers who have fond memories of Twinkies as children, to millennials craving a cool midnight snack,” he added.

Wal-Mart worked with Hostess to improve the taste, appearance, packaging and naming based on tests and consumer insights, he said.

“Eventually, we got to the delicious final version now arriving in our stores,” Mr. Pearson said. “And thanks to Wal-Mart, Hostess is growing by entering the frozen food aisle for the first time ever.”

Deep Fried Twinkies, Wal-Mart
Hostess Deep Fried Twinkies may be prepared in an oven, toaster or deep fryer.
Photo courtesy of Wal-Mart

Featuring a creamy filling, the Deep Fried Twinkies are dipped in a funnel cake-like batter and flash-fried before they are frozen. They may be prepared in an oven, toaster or deep fryer. 

“We started to explore the idea of developing a deep-fried Twinkie when we saw, year after year, that this indulgent snack was the main attraction at local state fairs and summer carnivals taking place around the country," said Ellen Copaken, vice-president of marketing for Hostess. "This sweet treat is the result of premium innovation and yet another momentous celebration of the beloved Twinkie.”

This isn’t the first time Wal-Mart has collaborated with a supplier to develop exclusive products. Last year the retailer introduced Peeps Mystery Chicks flavored marshmallows as part of a partnership with Just Born Quality Confections. Melody Phan Rich, senior buyer for seasonal candy at Wal-Mart, said her team tasted a lot of interesting flavors, even considering a maple bacon variety, as part of the development process.

“Collaboration is a key ingredient in not only candy, but the buying process in categories across our stores,” she said. “The best part is discussing those with our suppliers and combining our shared expertise toward the best solution for customers.”

Deep Fried Twinkies, Wal-Mart
Deep Fried Twinkies will be available in a broader grocery format later this year, according to the president and c.e.o. of Hostess.
Photo courtesy of Wal-Mart

As for Hostess, the Deep Fried Twinkies represents a new frontier in the midst of expansion through innovation and strategic acquisitions, said William D. Toler, president and chief executive officer of Hostess Brands L.L.C., during a July 5 conference call. He said the treats will be available in grocery stores and other mass retailers later this year.

“We’ve also got plans to expand into food service starting later this quarter, and we’re continuing to expand in our international business, again because of our model, our code and our brands,” Mr. Toler said.
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