Tuesday, September 27, 2016

An Advertising Match Made in Heaven... Hostess Snacks and Comic Books!

Martinex1: What could be better than running to the local dime store, grabbing your favorite comic from the spinner rack and with your extra money adding a Hostess Cherry Pie (or Ding Dong, Cupcake, Twinkie, Snowball, Suzy-Q or Ho Ho)?   Super-heroes and the sugary treats seemed to go hand-in-hand back in our youth.
  
And somebody quite brilliant who handled the marketing for the Hostess brands and Continental Baking Company back in the day approved in-comic advertisements.  These one-page ads, numbering in the dozens, featured characters from the various companies in short adventures in which the outcome inevitably involved eating one of the tasty treats.   Marvel, DC, Archie, and Harvey all participated.  Warner Brothers characters also made a few appearances. Villains were foiled, heroes were satisfied, and comedy ensued, but the tasty baked confections were always devoured.
 
During my initial collecting heyday, these ads were ever-present.  I believe some of the Marvel examples featured Sal Buscema and perhaps Marie Severin art, but I cannot be sure on any of it. If anybody can help identify the creators, that would be great.   For more than 250 examples go to tomheroes.com where I captured today's samples.  It would have been fun to find some of the original art for these. In the early 80's, John Byrne parodied the Hostess style in First Comics - that is also included below. 

Enjoy these jewels of yesteryear and share your memories on the nostalgic treats.



















13 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

Fantastic topic! (And nice touch adding Byrne's satire piece - I've always liked that one.) When I did that post on ads in comics last year, I only just mentioned the Hostess comics within comics and provided some links because I knew they deserved their own post.
By the way, here's a more direct link to the list of Hostess ads at Tomorrow's Heroes.
I'm not sure if there's a definitive list of all of the artists who did these, but it's pretty easy to identify those done by, say, Sal Buscema or Curt Swan. There's at least two that were done by Gil Kane: one of Captain Marvel, and the other featuring Daredevil. And there's also one featuring the Human Torch drawn by none other than Frank Miller.

What always gets me is how many of these there were; I thought I'd seen them all, but once I began going through the list at Tomorrow's Heroes some years ago, I realized that a good half of them were unfamiliar to me. And I should clarify that I'm just referring to the superhero ones, as I'd never seen the others featuring funny animals, Casper, Sad Sack or '70s comic-book superstar Richie Rich. Even those with Archie comics are completely unfamiliar to me, even though I was an avid reader of Archies for a few years.

Doug said...

While I have a sort of giddy, good-feelings nostalgia for the Hostess ads now, I did not feel that way as a kid. Back then, I was so tunnel vision toward superheroes that I found the Hostess ads silly and even somewhat demeaning to the heroes and villains depicted (particularly when it was a known villain in the one-pager). As I've said, I didn't like my comics if they weren't taken seriously -- as I reached junior high school I actually found the Batman '66 television show to be a turn-off.

However, now refined by the sands of time and with an altered perspective, I think these things (and the Batman TV show) are fabulous. Thanks, Martinex, for the opportunity for folks to reminisce on these today, and to Edo for the link. Good times.

And while I rarely consume Hostess treats these days, Twinkies and their ilk were a staple of my childhood. Who didn't relish peeling the chocolate frosting off the top of the cupcake to eat it first?

Doug

Redartz said...

Great post, Martinex! Those Hostess ads were everywhere in 70's comics, as common as the Hostess snack racks at every market and convenience store. Many are familiar to me, but as with Edo, the Archie and Harvey ads were not. It appears that those Archie/ Harvey/ Warner Bros. ads were executed by the same artists producing the comics, like the Marvel/DC ads. And as for those Marvel ads: it seemed most were Sal's work.,As many comics as he drew at the time, how did he find time to do all those Twinkie ads? Maybe he kept up his energy level with a cupcake or two...

Colin Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I associate these primarily with Sal B. Some of them had a ludicrous amount of plot packed into about 8 panels. I seem to remember a Spidey (Spidey AND Cap?) one where aliens landed in Central Park, some kind of giant net appeared, Cap and Spidey flew in rocket cars and ultimately dissuaded the aliens from invading, presumably by means of a sponge-filled treat.

Colin, you probably had to try a Twinkie when you were a kid. You can get them here now, but you can actually taste the E-numbers. They taste like nothing on Earth - they are so saccharine sweet, they hit a taste bud at the back of your mouth that you didn't know existed. As bad as that tastes to you now, that's how good it tasted when you were a kid.

Richard

david_b said...

I know we covered this topic before here a few years back, but this is a wonderful revisit, thanks Martinex!

Perhaps it was my young idealism as a Marvel collector, but I recall having trouble seeing my heroes essentially pimped out to Hostess to promote snack cakes. The pre-Bronze days of hip Marvel non-establishment purity fettered away.

Nevertheless, I always enjoy Sal on Captain America and I also recall enjoying this advertisement page more so than the issue's interior Cap art with Robbins, Trimpe or Kirby (back in the day, remember..).

Hostess remains a near/dear guilty pleasure. I recall on my first deployment overseas, there were no Apple Fruit Pies to be found on base, so my missus dutifully packed a few every now and then in my care packages.

Let me assure you, all those delicious preservatives can withstand ANY climate. :)

Metal Mikey said...

There's no way to get the companies to cosign on a mutual publishing shared credit, especially since it's not just DC and Marvel to negotiate with, but also Harvey... But how fun would it be to have some hard collection form of these Hostess advertisements?

pfgavigan said...

Hiya,

Very fun topic today. While I do remember being slightly annoyed over seeing our heroes and heroines pitching pastries I also remember looking forward to seeing these things as they were indeed, a fun thing.

Actually you have to really admire the technical work that went into these things, especially on the artistic side. Our pal Sal was probably one of the best choices possible to render these, although I did notice that he gave Mr. Fantastic's foe two left feet in that final panel.

Not an unusual condition or even a rare one, especially if you ever have the misfortune to watch me try to dance.

Hey david_b, I agree that these tasty treats can survive any environment; they'll probably make it through a nuclear explosion too.

Seeya,

pfgavigan

Martinex1 said...

I like how that Gold Digger character with Mr. Fantastic had a bit of a Vision vibe, with the big collar, intangibility power, and similar belt. As mentioned above by others, I am impressed by the compactness of the storytelling. I know we are not talking great epics here but these are nice examples of advertising story shorthand. And the art is actually quite good on most. Though I would say that Josie in that last panel of the Pussycats page looks more inebriated than worn out from exercise.

Humanbelly said...

To be honest, these ads always annoyed the bejeepers out of me. Like Doug to some degree, I felt that they sullied the characters. And I think I've just realized why-- it's because the art really was generally so darned good, and was completely out of aesthetic sync with the inane "plot", character-free dialog, and twinkie-shilling. The ads "look" right but "sound" horribly wrong, y'know? And it's the Sad Sack one that made me realize this (never saw that ad before--!). I amassed an impressive stack of Sad Sacks over the course of two or three years, and I can tell ya that this writer just abandoned ship on any pretense of trying to maintain the established Sarge, Sack & General R characters. In this case, it somehow doesn't even seem to match up to what's being depicted in-frame. Garsh--!

Am I recalling a different HULK one, in much broader distribution? With the Wendigo? Considering the Wendigo's gruesome diet, that could certainly have taken a dark turn...

Man, did we love the Twinkies, though. Cupcakes were a close second. There was a very specific kind of stomach pain that you would get if you ate a third twinkie (sometimes even with just the second one) that I can vividly recall. And although many kids did the peel-the-frosting thing w/ the cupcakes (the fact that you COULD do that being disturbing all by itself), that mixed-taste sensation of frosting, cake, AND filling in one bite was extraordinary. And sadly, almost certainly unable to be experienced by these aging, de-sensitized taste buds. . .

HB

Martinex1 said...

HB... Welcome back! Just needed to wave some Hostess Twinkies around to draw you out of hiding! Just like a character in the strips!

I personally was a fan of Ding Dongs. - those little aluminum foil wrapped chocolate hockey pucks. Some people on the East Coast may know them as King Dongs. Even though they had the same basic ingredients of Ho Hos and even the Cupcakes - I liked the balance of the light candy coating better. But you are right HB, one too many of a tog these could keep me off of them for a while.

I remember the Hostess commercials where every product had a cartoon character pushing it (similar to cereal marketing). The cowboy Twinkie, the magician Fruit Pie, etc. I cannot recall what the Ho Ho was.

My least favorite Hostess products were either the Suzy Qs - just too hard to handle or the Sno Balls - not a coconut fan as a youth.

But they all had some competition from the Zingers and the Peanuts gang.

Humanbelly said...

Dolly Madison's line of cakes and treats, MX1-! Even their commercials during the Peanuts specials were a joy-- yup. I will go on record as saying that I much preferred the Dolly M chocolate mini-donuts to Hostess'. Call me a rebel. . .

Zingers were quite tasty, too, and there was a bit more variety to them. Possibly regional variations, I suspect? (We had an orange & spongecake version with chocolate/vanilla swirl frosting. . . ooooooooooo-yeah)

HB

Redartz said...

Martinex- the cupcakes were good, liked Twinkies but I liked Ho-Hos the best. Their character was some kind of pseudo Robin Hood character, with the body of a Ho-Ho. A little disturbing, actually. By the way, Ding Dongs were known as King Dons in Cincinnati. Don't ask me why...

HB- glad to see (read?) you ! Yeah, Dolly Madison = Peanuts specials. That ripply frosting on the Zingers was a nice touch . Now Hostess makes them too...

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