This happened two years in a row at the Arnold Park picnic. I'm not entirely certain but I think I was about 10 or 11 at the time. The second year, my little brother Eric won in his division.
What I do remember clearly is that we buried our faces in Hostess cherry fruit pies set up on picnic tables under the burning mid-western sun. The winner in each age category was rewarded with several Hostess products and a $25 savings bond. I could use that $25 about now.
We had to go to the picnic every year because my dad was on the park board or something really important like that. Plus, there were rides and games and tons of junk food, hence the cherry fruit pies. That picnic was the mainstay of our summer vacation. The fact that my little brother managed to excel at pie eating and win alongside me was just icing on the cake for our family. Eric even got his picture taken by the Jefferson County Journal, hands behind his back, little body bent over with his face planted in the middle of the pie.
The thing was that cherry was my sister Carol's favorite flavor, not mine. I was really an apple pie kind of girl. Luckily I managed to choke down the cherry pie regardless. Likely I would have broken some kind of world record had it been an apple pie-eating contest. Honestly, those days I would have emerged the victor of any dessert-eating contest.
We could have held stock in the Hostess company back then. Between the soft white goodness of Wonder Bread and the creamy surprise in the middle of the Ding Dongs, we certainly ate our share.
My sister loved the cherry fruit pies and the CupCakes. My older brother Steve ate half a loaf of Wonder Bread every day after school, and Eric was really a Ding Dong, Ho Ho kind of kid. Personally, I never met a Hostess product I didn't like.
I even remember my Grandpa Westmoreland carrying the marshmallow-coconut-covered Sno Balls in his lunch every day. You have to peel the marshmallow cap off the Sno Balls to reveal the chocolate cream-filled cake mound — in case you didn't know.
The only Hostess product I wasn't entirely enamored with was the Twinkie. Looking back, it was probably because it didn't contain any semblance of chocolate. I did, however, like flipping it over to see the underbelly, revealing the three holes where the cream went in. Sometimes I managed to put a Twinkie in my bag lunch in grade school. When I did, I always squished it in the wrapper and squeezed it out like one of those a Go-gurts you feed preschoolers nowadays.
Today, I feel the heat spread up my cheeks if I even hold a box of Ding Dongs in my hand. Who could possibly eat such a thing when organic almond flour is all the craze? Who would dare?
I'm thinking I could easily make this into some kind of personal challenge and fill my basket with every Hostess cake they still make. It's important to test the boundaries.