- Hostess is making its frozen foods debut with Deep Fried Twinkies, a frozen creation that resulted from a year-long collaboration between Hostess and Wal-Mart.
- The product has a "retro cool factor" and "plays into the comfort food trend," Ellen Copaken, Hostess' vice president of marketing, told the Associated Press.
- Hostess collaborated with Wal-Mart at the food lab in Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, AR, where the retailer has 10 test kitchens and can accommodate 12 separate taste tests at a time.
Deep Fried Twinkies are popular treats at state fairs and restaurants, but creating a suitable product for sales in grocery stores was more of a challenge. The product also had to meet Hostess' requirements, such as the right texture and amount of filling and less than 10 minutes of baking time. The product taps into nostalgia and delivers the benefits of an indulgence and comfort food.
While many companies have made changes to certain products to align with consumer health trends, they still demand indulgent products, especially snack foods. Twinkies is a brand that consumers continue associating with sweet treats and nostalgia. It makes sense that Hostess would pursue innovations for Twinkies in those areas, rather than trying to make the product healthier, such as by adding whole fruit.
The R&D process was unique because Hostess worked in a retailer's test kitchen to create the product. Wal-Mart teams up with its suppliers to identify twists to reformulate existing products or make new ones, all while trimming time off product development and bringing products to market faster. This could be just the beginning of brands partnering with Wal-Mart or other retailers with test kitchens on exclusive products for their stores.
This isn't the first innovation for the Twinkies brand. Hostess debuted Key Slime Twinkies—featuring green filling—in conjunction with the "Ghostbusters" reboot earlier this year.