Just a few short weeks ago, we were counting down the minutes until the Twinkie made its big return to store shelves. Well it happened today… or rather it happened on Today. Al Roker and Twinkie the Kid escorted a Twinkie truck (strangely, with a big cupcake on the side of it) into Rockefeller Center at which point Al dragged a tub of Twinkies over to Savannah Guthrie, Tamron Hall, and Willie Geist and they hurled cakes at the crowd. Welcome back Twinkie…
A Today show segment is a big get, but the whole thing was a little low on enthusiasm if you ask us. But really, the big test is with the customers.
Some are complaining that they’re smaller. People are actually noticing that the treats have shrunk .08 of an ounce from nine months ago when they were taken off the shelves. Or maybe they’re only just now noticing that they shrunk from 15 ounces to 13.58 ounces back in mid-2012. Either way, really?
A taste test over on Today.com says the revamped Twinkie is a “reasonable facsimile” of the old Twinkie with even less of a “chemical aftertaste” than there was before, which the writer finds surprising given the longer shelf-life, from 14 days to 45. Not really a culinary thumbs up.
On the positive side, the new Twinkie has fewer calories, down from 150 to 135. (The company also has far fewer employees than they had before, 1,800 in the next few months down versus the 2,500 before. And none of the workers are unionized.)
Really, the big issue that Twinkies has is the brand itself doesn’t seem to be in line with the ways people eat now. As the Today.com comments show, the product is perceived as artificial, lacking in healthy attributes (there’s talk of a gluten-free and low sugar versions). Right now, customers are obsessed with carbs and organic foods, all natural and local, sourcing their food and trying to combat the obesity issue we have in this country. Twinkies isn’t contributing positively to this conversation at all.
Which may be why the comeback fell a little flat. It’s great to tap into people’s sense of nostalgia, but brands also need to offer something fresh in order to keep up with the times and bring new customers into the fold. If Twinkie the Kid doesn’t have anything else up his sleeve, the excitement over this comeback won’t even last as long as that first shipment of cakes.