A Ding Dong is a chocolate cake produced and distributed in the United States by Hostess Brands and in Canada from Vachon Inc. under the name King Dons; in some U.S. markets, it was previously known as Big Wheels. The Ding Dong has been produced since 1967, with the exception of a brief period in 2013. It is round with a flat top and bottom, close to three inches in diameter and slightly taller than an inch, similar in shape and size to a hockey puck. A white creamy filling is injected into the center and a thin coating of chocolate glaze covers the cake. The Ding Dong was originally wrapped in a square of thin aluminum foil, enabling it to be carried in lunches without melting the chocolate glaze.
History and naming
The Ding Dong is similar to other cream-filled cakes such as Arcade Vachon's Jos. Louis introduced before 1934. Hostess began marketing its Ding Dong in 1967. The name was given to coincide with a television ad campaign featuring a ringing bell.
Hostess went out of business on November 16, 2012, stopping all production. The Hostess name and brands were acquired by private equity firms Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co; in June 2013, the new Hostess Brands reopened a Kansas product plant and announced that Ding Dong production would resume on July 15, 2013.
Ring Ding – Ding Dong conflict
The company marketed the snacks on the East Coast as Big Wheels, to avoid confusion with Ring Dings, a similar and pre-existing treat by Drake's Cakes. The names were consolidated in 1987, when a short-lived merger of Drake's with Hostess's parent company (then Continental Baking Company) briefly resolved the Ring Ding – Ding Dong conflict. When the merged company broke up, however, Hostess was once again forced to cease using the Ding Dongs name in areas where Ring Dings were available. The compromise sound-alike name King Dons lasted until Interstate Bakeries Corporation, which had recently merged with Hostess' parent company, bought Drake's in 1998. The Hostess product was then sold under the name Ding Dongs throughout the United States, although it was still sold as King Dons in Canada.
To advertise Ding Dongs, Hostess created the cartoon character King Ding Dong, an anthropomorphized Ding Dong sporting a crown and scepter. He was similar to other Hostess characters Captain Cupcake, Happy Ho Ho, Twinkie the Kid, Fruit Pie the Magician, and Chipper Brownie. Where King Dons were marketed, the character, like the product, was known as "King Don." In areas that once used the Big Wheels name, the character was previously an Indian chief named "Chief Big Wheel."
In popular culture
- It is offered to "Weird Al" Yankovic in his "Fat" music video.
- A box of Ding Dongs can be seen in The Stevenson Family's kitchen cabinet when Beavis and ButtHead try to gather food from the episode of Beavis and ButtHead, "The Great Cornholio".
- It is the favorite treat of Halle Berry's character in Frankie & Alice.
- In season 2 episode 5 of Arrested Development, Michael Bluth talks about his brother forgetting to remove the tin foil when microwaving a Ding Dong, twice.
- In season 1 episode 12 of The Big Bang Theory, "The Jerusalem Duality", Howard Wolowitz berates his mother by phone when she forgets to put a Ding Dong in his bagged lunch.
- In the American sitcom Seinfeld, there is an episode entitled "The Dinner Party" where George Costanza suggests bringing Ring Dings and Pepsi to the dinner party.
- In CHiPs, Officer Frank "Ponch" Poncharello's favorite snack, Ding Dongs, are shown throughout the series.
- In the American TV series The Closer, Brenda, played by Kyra Sedgwick, always had a drawer full of candy and sweets. Ding Dongs were her favorite, and she was often shown indulging in one (sometimes while moaning) after a tough case or during a moment of high stress.
- In the movie Transformers (2007), the President asks for a Ding Dong, which is then rolled across the floor.
- In season 1 episode 1 of The Shield, Detective Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach accuses Vic Mackey of stealing his Ding Dongs from his desk.
- In season 1 episode 3 of the American TV series The Wire, a box of Drake's Ring Dings can be seen in the task force's basement office.
- In season 4 episode 19 of Fringe, Walter Bishop asks for Ring Dings.
- In season 6 episode 4 of Robot Chicken, King Ding Dong (referred to here as King Don), voiced by Billy Zane, is sentenced to death for driving his kingdom into bankruptcy and ruin. Although he cannot fit into the guillotine, or be easily beheaded with an ax, he is executed by way of tying each of his limbs to a horse with rope, then pulling him apart, his last words informing the rebellion leader that he had sex with his sister. After the rebellion leader buries his corpse, he is later confronted by King Ding Dong, who is miraculously still alive, despite being torn apart. King Ding Dong states that he is composed 80% of preservatives and therefore "essentially immortal", and then decapitates the rebellion leader with an ax. Later, he requests that the rebellion leader's sister be brought to him so he can have sex with her, claiming that the matter is "less about sex and more about tying up loose ends", which the rebellion leader's sister finds to be a "shockingly unromantic" thing to say, although King Ding Dong does not seem to care.
- In episode 8 of Freaks and Geeks, Sam, played by John Francis Daley, is eating Ding Dongs when his sister Lindsay, played by Linda Cardellini, returns from her date. She then eats one.
- In season 9 episode 5 of Friends, Chandler says Monica used to eat Ding Dongs without taking the tinfoil off.
- In the movie Deep Cover, Laurence Fishburne's character asks this little boy who lives across the hall, James, what he ate today, he replies "I ate Ding Dongs."
- In season 1 episode 7 of the American TV series The O.C., Marissa and Ryan are arguing over whether they should pick Ding Dongs or cheese sticks from a vending machine. Marissa ends it by telling Ryan to pick the cheese sticks, as she states "I hate Ding Dongs."
- In season 1 episode 4 of the American TV series Damages, Glenn Close's character tastes a Ding Dong and ask what it is; when she is informed that it is a Ding Dong, she replies "It’s delicious, it tastes like a Ho Ho".
- Choco pie
- Alfajor – Two round, sweet biscuits joined together with mousse, dulce de leche or jam, and coated with black or white chocolate or simply covered with powdered sugar.