Throwback ‘Thorsday’: Hostess Comic Ads
The first comics I ever laid my hands on belonged to my mom. This “collection”, if you can call it that, sat in a cardboard box in the back of her closet for years before being presented to us as something my sister and I might enjoy. The box was a mix of Archie and Casper, but there were also horror comics, like Tales From the Crypt and DC’s House of Mystery. My sister and I poured over these comics with their yellowed pages for hours, and while the adventures of the Riverdale gang and vampire Andrew Bennett were enjoyable*, it was the advertisements that I found the most entertaining. Ads for novelties like X-Rays specs, whoopee cushions and muscle building programs peppered each issue, there was the occasional ad for CBS’s Saturday morning cartoons, but the best were for Hostess snack cakes.
In the ’70s and ’80s, Hostess ran hundreds of advertisements in comic, for everything from Twinkies to Fruit Pies. The ads were comics themselves, featuring flimsy plots revolving around goofy villains taken down by a hero, before being consoled with a Hostess treat. These advertisements not only existed as a great example of a promotion tailored to its audience, but serve as a “kitsch” piece of comic book history in their own right. In honor of “Throwback Thorsday”, I present to you a collection of a few of my favorites, along with two parodies “inspired” by these classic ads.
Reading this ad is like watching Peter Parker get beat up for his lunch money. This is particularly enjoyable because the villain’s name is June Jitsui, which has to be one of the best names for a character I’ve ever heard.
This night of crime fighting was probably one of the lighter evenings for the Dark Knight. Perhaps if Batman handed a few Hostess cupcakes over to Bane he may have been distracted from murdering so many people.
I actually really like this ad. We have a sweatshop owner that looks like Paul Linde threatening people with magic chalk that can turn them into dress patterns. We also have Captain America skulking around in darkness muttering about manners and democracy. The villain gets distracted by fruit pies and then… everyone seems to forget the crimes against humanity that this man has perpetrated. Remember kids, Hostess fruit pies are “more fun than buying a new dress.”
This Hostess ad with Wonder Woman plays like a fevered dream. But of all of the random ridiculousness in this piece, the thing that is most unbelievable is an actress, who’s worried about her image eating a Hostess snack cake.
This Spider-Man ad is pretty straightforward, but where did Peter get all of the Hostess Cup Cakes? Was Spider-Man on his way to a promotion or something? We may never know. Also the title of this comic is… of its time.
Below are two of my favorite parody ads. The first is from Jim Mahfood’s Generation X Bootleg and features Beat Generation luminaries going to the future to destroy “squares”. The second is a Marvel Zombies parody featured in Wizard Magazine. Both are pretty brilliant.
*This early mix of comic genres might explain my affinity for horror and sweater vests.