one man's ceiling
Thursday, March 22, 2007
  all hail king ding dong, still strong at 40!
dateline: america

hostess ding dongs, those little hockey pucks of chocolate cake-y goodness filled with white creamy stuff and topped with a thin, hard shell of yummy waxy chocolate officially celebrated its 40th birthday.

originally presented to the public on march 18, 1967, these vitamin-fortified nuggets of joy, individually wrapped in a square of micro thin aluminum foil were an instant hit in peanuts and banana splits lunch boxes across the northamerican continent. for a time they replaced the twinkie as the snack of choice until partisan factions broke out among the snack food eating populace. to this day you can still hear arguments from both camps denouncing the other.

those of us fortunate enough to be there the day the ding dong was unveiled remember distinctly how perfectly smooth the foil wrapper was along the top of the cake, showing every slight ripple in the chocolate coating's texture. only in retrospect does foil seem the most obvious choice; the snack was released during the height of the space missions, the mirrored surface serving as an homage to the moon as viewed by lunar orbiters.

according to the official hostess propaganda the ding dong was named after the chiming bell heard in the first commercial. how can this be? how can you name a snack for a commercial for a snack where the name is featured in the product for which the bells are ringing? say what? that's crazy? dingy? ding dong!

ah, the zen of snack food, the yin and yang of it all. stay to the white but remain true to the black; stay to the black but remain true to the white. does the chocolate shell exist to enclose the cake, or does the cake fill the void created by the shell? is it an encapsulated earth, a magma of cream surrounded by a mantle of cake and topped with a chocolate crust protected by an atmosphere of foil?

the secret was the foil. the foil was the secret. without the foil all you had was... a snack cake. ah, but with the foil, what a world! if you carefully unwrapped the ding dong and then proceeded to flatten out the foil you would end up with a perfect sheet of aluminum, as thin as silver leaf. with a little work you could use that foil to wrap ordinary household objects and create unearthly art. wrap a barbie doll and create a scary robot straight out of agerman expressionist silent movie! carefully tear it into half and use the pieces to cover your teeth, a gangsta grill 20 years ahead of its time! paint your finger nails with clear nail polish and attach bits of the foil, trim with scissors when dry and marvel at the glam rock of it all!

now-a-days kids don't get no foil. now you get hermetically sealed little plastic pillow bags with your ding dong sitting on a cardboard insert that looks like the stuff they use to keep a man's dress shirt stiff. nothing you can do with that. no imagination, just a snack cake with a shelf life longer than the memories it will never engender.

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