[3-Pack Review] Hostess Limited Edition Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes, Strawberry Twinkies, and Valentine Ding Dongs

What ever happened to The Dating Game?

You know, that one show where a bachelor or bachelorette sits on one side of a curtain, with his or her suitors on the other side. They have a bunch of flirty exchanges and then the episode ends with the bachelor or bachelorette choosing one lucky contestant to go on a date. Sounds fun, right?

I think it’s about time to bring The Dating Game back. But since there’s no studio audience, game show set, or other humans around right now, I’ll just choose between three limited edition Hostess snack cakes instead. Yep, just another normal weeknight in the Snack Cellar household.

Introducing the contestants! Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes return following last year’s debut. Strawberry Twinkies are back for the first time since 2014. And Valentine Ding Dongs are just a lazy rebranding of last year’s I ❤️ U Cakes. Because obviously, the only words in the English language that are more romantic than “I love you” are “Ding Dong.”

Contestant #1! I love your sleek, elegant look. You must be rich, and that’s sexy to me.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes feature a frosted dark chocolate cake with raspberry creamy filling. I never had these last year, so I’m excited to see how Hostess does with a rather complex flavor. First biting into the cake, it’s most and actually noticeably bitter compared to Hostess’ standard chocolate cupcakes, much like dark chocolate. The frosting seems to be the same sweet, rich, fudgy frosting of the plain chocolate cupcakes.

The raspberry cream filling is a pretty pleasant surprise. It has the same airy texture as all of Hostess’s filled cakes, so its flavor is somewhat light, but what’s there is sweet and even a little bit tart. For a snack cake, it captures “raspberry” surprisingly well, and combines well with the dark chocolate cake. It’s definitely more chocolate than raspberry, but I’ve got to give Hostess points for (mostly) pulling this one off.

Contestant #2! Are you always so…greasy?

Next up: Strawberry Twinkies. These feature a golden sponge cake with strawberry creamy filling. The cake is the same as I’ve touched on in past Twinkie reviews: very moist and greasy, sweet, buttery, you know the drill. Moving on.

On to the strawberry filling. Like the Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes, the filling’s texture is light, and so is its flavor. Unlike the Cupcakes though, the Strawberry Twinkie filling isn’t quite as enjoyable. The little strawberry flavor that can be found is very sweet (though not quite to the artificial level of Chocolate Strawberry Oreos) and lacks any degree of tartness. The golden cake pretty much dominates the flavor in every bite, which has been a problem with limited edition Twinkies in the past. These aren’t bad, but there’s nothing particularly great about them either.

Contestant #3, you’re covered in sprinkles! You must be a lot of fun at parties.

Last but not least (but maybe least), Valentine Ding Dongs. These…really aren’t all that different from standard Ding Dongs. They’re chocolate cakes with creamy filling, just with added heart-shaped sprinkles and the cakes themselves actually resembling little hearts. Oh, and they come in individual “To-From” wrapping, in case you want to hand out blocked arteries for Valentine’s Day.

I’ll get right to it: there’s absolutely nothing spectacular about Ding Dongs. The cake is sweet and chocolatey but slightly dry, the outer frosting provides a bit more chocolate taste, and the whipped filling provides some creaminess to balance out all the chocolate but is pretty tasteless on its own. If you buy these, it’s because you enjoy the added texture of the crunchy heart sprinkles and you’re a sucker for heart-shaped foods.

Needless to say, my choice in this sad version of The Dating Game is Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes. In my opinion, they came much closer to their advertised flavor than the other cakes. Strawberry Twinkies missed on the “strawberry,” and Ding Dongs are rarely something to get excited about–yep, I heard it too. If you’ve got to choose one this Valentine’s Day, Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes are the winner in my book.

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes, Strawberry Twinkies, and Valentine Ding Dongs
Price and Place of Purchase: Valentine Ding Dongs: $2.98 at Walmart; Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes/Strawberry Twinkies: $2.99 at Target
Nutrition Facts (serving size-1 cake for Cupcakes; 2 cakes for Twinkies/Ding Dongs): Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes: 160 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein.

Strawberry Twinkies: 250 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 350 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 27 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

Valentine Ding Dongs: 270 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 31 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

In a Nutshell: Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes have good combination of dark chocolate and raspberry flavor. Strawberry Twinkies suffer from weak artificial strawberry flavor. Valentine Ding Dongs are kinda dumb dumb. Holding a dating game show by myself with snack cakes.
Overall Score: Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes: 7.5 out of 10

Strawberry Twinkies: 6.5 out of 10

Valentine Ding Dongs: 6 out of 10

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