How Hostess Cakes Helped the Housewife

Vintage Illustration club women 1920s (L) Vintage illustration Club Women of America 1927 by David Robinson (R) Vintage Hostess Cakes Logo 1928

The Great Sugar Rush

Americans with a sweet tooth are rushing to stock up on Ding Dongs, Ho Ho’s, Twinkies and all sorts of sugary Hostess goodies as Hostess Brands announces they will shut down for good,

Say it ain’t so.

Long before these chemically laden sweet treats became the junk food darling of those in need of a sugar rush, there was a time when serving a Hostess cake for the ladies who lunched set was considered fashionable and quite proper indeed.

The Hostess Cakes advertisements that ran in the late 1920s were directed at the new post-war housewife who was looking for up-to-date, time-saving help in the recently maid-less kitchen.

Hostess Cakes, a product of the Continental Baking Company, were part of the new hurry up cooking ethic.

Discussions ran rampant at all the lady’s clubs concerning  this most modern practice of serving a pre-packaged cake for guests, with many of the older set turning up their nose at this new practice. Even if Betty Crocker declared that the 1920s was “the beginning of the real cake era”, some of it began to be store-bought.

Hostess With the Mostess

Vintage Ad 1930s

Mrs.Helen Johnson was in a tizzy. Her cake was a flop.

“Of all times to have my cake go back on me” sobbed Helen, “and just last week I baked such a good one! Why can’t they always turn out right?”

The girls were expected at her house for tea that afternoon and she was without a decent cake. Could she dare serve her guests something straight off the grocers shelf?

So many women shared this baking uncertainty with Helen. They never knew until it was too late what their cake would be like. And when one failed on a “special occasion” what a tragic disappointment it would be!

If the 1920’s housewife was troubled by baking ups and downs “why not try the advice of a smart domestic scientist” who suggested the ease of serving a store-bought cake.

Vintage Ad Hostess Cakes 1928 illustration housewife serving tea Vintage Ad Hostess Cakes 1928

“Yes, not to worry” Alice Adams Proctor reassured our harried heroine in this 1928 ad. Hostess would come to m’lady’s rescue.

Mrs. Alice Adams Proctor, the domestic scientist extraordinaire from Continental Baking Company the makers of these delectable Hostess Cakes, was  the calming voice of authority in these ads reassuring the lady of the house.

“In all parts of the country Hostess Cakes have achieved enviable success.”

“Their flavor…their texture…their dainty appearance have been a revelation to millions of women.”

“So with complete confidence, Madam, I urge you to try them, too.”

“A single bite will convince you. I believe that baking cake at home is utter folly.”

Vintage illustration housewife 1927

No baking Failures Now

“Baking failures never bother when you buy these delicious cakes. When a Hostess Cake fails, you never know. Only perfect cakes…cakes literally without a single flaw…ever find their way out of the Hostess kitchens.”

“So I guarantee a cake you can serve with perfect confidence. A cake your friends will notice and praise.”

“I guarantee an attractive cake too. Guests immediately comment.”

“You see, Mrs Proctor said confidently, I know the immaculate kitchens where they are made. I know the talented pastry cooks who bake them.”

“So just order one of these Hostess Cakes as a test. Be critical. Judge it carefully.”

English: A Hostess CupCake, shown whole.

“What…you bought them ? the girls asked Elvira incredulously. No wonder tea guests are frankly amazed to hear that cakes like these can be bought at a grocer.”

“Honestly,” Mrs. Johnson said agreeing, “you’ve never tasted anything as delicate and delicious as these chocolate cup cakes. And your choice of vanilla or chocolate icing! Two for 5 cents!”

These early incarnation of the Hostess cup cake had no white squiggle of frosting or crème filled core. The chocolate cupcake  referred to in the ad originated in 1919 was given its final embellishment, the filling and white squiggle in 1945

How Hostess Cakes Came to the Rescue

Vintage Ad Hostess Cakes 1930

Another success story attributed to Hostess was explained in this 1930 ad about the troubles of a certain Mrs. Leticia Luke whose neglected children were the result of too much time spent baking by mama.

Leticia Luke loved to bake.

There were spice cakes, angel cakes, devil cakes, sponge cakes and fudge cakes. They were stuffed, gilded and embellished with luscious frostings, fillings, and icings, opulently flavored with chocolate, coconut, marshmallow, whipped cream, and pineapple. But she spent so much time baking these creations she had little time for anything else.

vintage illustration 1930s Housewives shopping

One day while shopping at the local grocers Mrs. Luke was shocked to hear that she was the subject of her neighbor’s gossip!

“I just dread Saturdays when Mrs. Luke’s children are home,” Mrs. Luke heard one of her neighbors say in the grocery store one morning. “They are into some kind of mischief around the neighborhood every minute. And do you know why? She doesn’t take them anywhere or plan anything for them to do.”

Leticia’s face turned beet red!

“She just spends the whole blessed afternoon in the kitchen baking- making a fussy coconut layer cake for Sunday. Imagine! When she could have a Hostess Cocoanut Layer that would be every bit as good and no trouble at all!”

“Yes,” Alice Adams Proctors tells the reader of the ad “overheard gossip has its helpful side Sometimes it opens our eyes to better ways of doing things.”

“There are always things to do nowadays that are more fun- and more important- than baking cake, Alice Proctor points out. “So why bake when you can buy cake like this Hostess Cocoanut Layer- rich, delicious tender as any homemade cake?

“You couldn’t make such a rich good cake as this for anything like the price. Just look at the list of ingredients we use. It’s very seldom that a housewife can command such choice materials for home baking.”

“If you ever buy a Hostess cake that isn’t perfectly fresh, just return the part you haven’t used to the grocer and he will cheerfully refund your money.”

“Won’t you try one of these wonderful ready-to-serve cakes today?”



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