Ding Dongs and King Dons

I used to live in St. Louis, which, being the home of the Twinkie, is well-provided with Hostess outlet stores. These stores sell almost-stale Hostess products, Wonder Bread, etc. Never mind how old a Twinkie needs to be to be "almost stale".

Anyway, these stores offered a strange product called "King Dons". They looked, felt, and tasted just like Ding Dongs, but they were, as I just pointed out, King Dons. In normal stores in St. Louis, they’re always Ding Dongs. You’ll never see a "King Don" on a shelf at the 7-Eleven there.

At first, I thought that this might have something to do with Don King, the much-beloved boxing promoter. I couldn’t imagine what the connection would possibly be, though, and besides, there’s a difference:

King Dons Don Kings

Anyway, the good people at Hostess wrote back (with what looks like a form letter; mine is not the only copy of this thing on the web), explaining that Ding Dongs (which appears to be the canonical name for the things) are known variously as King Dons or Big Wheels, depending on what part of the country you’re in. This is allegedly to avoid confusion with some other products offered in those regions.

That’s insane:

  1. If the problem is some other product (presumably Ring Dings, which pre-date Ding Dongs and which are virtually the same product), why are there two alternate names?

  2. Everyone calls these things Ding Dongs, regardless of what the box says. Hostess should in fact be suing or buying the "Ding Dong" name from whoever owns it in these mysterious regions, if that’s the case.

Where I live now, the boxes on the shelves say "King Dons" as often as not. You can’t get Ring Dings — the only thing I can think of that could possible claim a name conflict with Ding Dongs — here.

I think there’s something far more sinister going on.

Thank you for your recent comments regarding the naming of our HOSTESS King Dons Cake.

Many years ago, the HOSTESS product Ding Dongs Cake was introduced with a bell as part of the advertising. So as not to confuse our product with a competitor’s product, in certain regions the name was changed to King Dons, while in other areas the same product was called Big Wheels.

In the past, the original Ding Dongs Cake (with the bell) became Ding Dongs Cakes (without the bell), King Dons, or Big Wheels, depending upon the region.

In January 1987, our Marketing Department decided that in order to have national continuity, one name for a product was necessary, and the original Ding Dongs name was chosen.

This decision was short lived. In June 1987, the name King Dons was added, for the same reason as explained previously, to avoid confusing one product with a competitor’s product which has a similar sounding name.


33 Comments so far. Comments are closed.
  1. heidi,

    are you retarted????? why would you think king dongs and don king have to do with each other??you sound so un educated to say the least. your not a bit funny you sound foolish and assanine to me..

  2. Tino,

    Then I have to wonder why you’re wasting your obviously-valuable time — with your spelling skills, I have to assume you’re a highly-placed executive somewhere — telling me about it.

    Have a nice day.
  3. Candy,

    I thought it was funny. Sorry to all of you who have no sense of humor. I just moved to St. Louis and will now have no confusion between king dons and don kings lol. (the pic’s cracked me up) And hey, to all you people bitching about spelling, you can go to hell because I can’t spell for anything without spell check and yet I still graduated from college with a 4.0!

  4. JonnyB,

    I thought the “retarted” comment was way out of line, Actually there has been a lot of discussion about this amongst myself and my co-workers regarding this very thing. When I grew up i remember them as King Dons.. but also I remember everyone including myself referring to them as ding dongs, so I just figured that to be a generic term in as much as everyone seems to kleenex instead of “puffs” or whatever other tissue type products are out there.

    Well now we all know the straight skinny on King Dons vs. Ding Dongs…

    Heidi, you need to lighten up, take a Zoloft, and/or take a remedial course in satirical humor… grammar, and spelling would be a plus as well.

  5. Amie,


    I think Heidi is right, and the retarded issue is so immature it makes me want to throw-up…thanks and have a nice day…

  6. Amie,

    oops, I meant JohnnyB was right not little miss Heidi,what a retard her immature self she is…thanks again…

  7. morena,

    I LOVE Ding Dongs! Grew up eating those (on the West Coast).

    Saw a segment on CBS Sunday Morning today about Fried Twinkies at a State Fair and now I am off to the local Hostess Outlet to FIND SOME DING DONGS!!

    I’ve seen them in Ohio as King Dons, but that name is riduclous, although your explanation above was quite funny. Long live the Ding Dong!!


  8. I just wanted to say hi to the owner of a great site. I found a lot of interesting stuff here. Thanks..

  9. Shaye,


    You have a improperly hyphenated adverb again.

  10. Shaye,

    I meant to write “an improperly hyphenated adverb again.”

  11. Ric,

    Brilliant site….even 3 years later. Someone here at work has Ding Dongs and I mentioned King Dons. Everyone looked at me like I had 3 heads!!! Yours was the only site I found to support their existence. I remember them in the two pack with yellow packaging with a ‘ding dong’ person with a crown, cape, and sceptor….

  12. Anonymous,

    Here in the Oh10, I always knew em as King Dons (wrapper had a graphic of a cake with a crown on “King Don”). When I was in Alabama for basic training, I saw them in the PX but they were called Big Wheels (graphic was a cake with an indian head dress “Chief Big Wheel”) It wasn’t until recently that I noticed that they are Ding Dongs now here. Being used to the King Don name, I prefer it. Besides, when I hear Ding Dong, I remember a certain slang terminology from childhood. And I would never put one of those in my mouth.

  13. Brett,

    So were the first Ding Dongs the ones in a foil wrapper or am I messed up? I am from out west and I thought they were always Ding Dongs, but now my friends here in Ohio say they were never in foil??

  14. Twinkie The Kid,

    I tend to find most of these snack cake names to be vaguely homoerotic. I’m not even gonna go into the name “Twinkies”!

  15. Kristi,

    I grew up in Pennsylvania. They were called “King Dons” there. When I was 16 I moved with my family to Indiana. One day someone (in Indiana) asked me if I wanted a “Ding Dong”. I thought they were being crude … that is until I read the box. LOL Turned out it was I with my head in the gutter. Oh, well … I did the same thing when someone asked me if I wanted a “cycle ride” … Seems like I was always on the defensive … wasn’t going to fall for one of those Hoosier’s “jokes”, ya know? Gotta watch those Indiana perverts! :) And Heidi … Dang, girl! Go change your tampon.

  16. juice,

    Yo- I was just having a debate with my friend mandi. i was telling her that now they are called “King Dons”, becuase wherevr i have seen them, I assumed they’d been changed to be calling “King Dons.’ i agree with you, that something is weird here. and i disagree with the last comment.. i dont think it’s crazy to think it may have somehting to do with Don king.

    Feel free to write me back. you’re not crazy.

  17. Eric 1.0,

    Thanks Tino. Me and a friend have been debating this for some time. I KNEW i’d purchased King Dons before, but all the stores around here offer Ding Dongs. I thought I was going crazy…so i googled it and here we are. Now I can shove this information in front of her face with glee. Thanks for making my day.


  18. Lisa,

    Thanks Tino. I had wondered about that for some time. I always knew them as King Dons…then they became Ding Dongs.

    It just goes to show you CAN find anything on the internet! :-)

  19. Diana,

    Thank you soooooooo much. My boyfriend and I just bought some Twinkie’s and I said I wish they had Ding Dongs too. He said you mean King Dons, I was like no it’s Ding Dongs, he laughed said he never heard of it. I laughed and said I never heard of a King Dons. So I typed in King Dons and Ding Dongs and we are both right. Have fun with life, sometimes it doesn’t last that long!

  20. Trish the Dish,

    Hey all, turns out there are many things called different names on both sides of the states, and in between! I lived in Michigan my whole life. Was called a Ding Dong while I was growing up and then all of a sudden, they changed it to King Don. I have never called it a King Don, only a Ding Dong. Out in Cali, it has always been a Ding Dong. And……no one is retarded. Don’t call people names!

  21. Anna,

    Superfantastic! My boyfriend and I bought some of these snack cakes the other day! He’s always known them as Ding Dongs and they always come in foil. He is from the west coast. In Arkansas growing up, I remember them as Ding Dongs and they came in a foil wrapper. Somewhere along the lines, they became King Dons and came in a white plastic wrapper. I also remember the box having the king guy with a crown and a scepter! Even though I found this site, he still doesn’t believe me that King Dons exsist and they come in plastic wrappers! Made me feel a little better that I hadn’t dreamt through my entire childhood! Thanks!

  22. K8,

    Boy it makes me feel old that so many people remember them as just one thing or another. When I was in grade school we used to buy Ding Dongs in the foil wrappers and then all of a sudden (I didn’t move, I was shopping at the same store) they became King Dons. I was told then that there was some outcry about the name being inappropriate. (My first scrape with the idiocy of political correctness. Even in grade school I thought it was completely stupid, I can’t say my opinion on PC has changed much over the years) For years I boycotted them because it wasn’t right to change the name. Then today at work I saw Ding Dongs in the snack machine. I was overjoyed that sanity had prevailed. Have a great day and enjoy a Ding Dong :)

  23. Big Guy,

    Where I grew up in Michigan they were always King Dons (and came wrapped in foil), and in my house the King Don name still lives today despite the universal name change! King Don is an extremely interesting moniker, whereas Ding Dongs has always seemed a little too generic. Long live the King!!

  24. Eric S,

    I’m right there with you. I had a debate with my girlfriend (at the time) as to the name (she from St. Louis and me, Ohio). We were living in a different country and I actually went so far as have my parents bring a package when they visited (obviously, I have issues). We both felt right about what we called them and now I see we were both justified and Hostess was the reason for the confustion. Thanks for the info!

  25. Roam,

    I remember when they changed the name from king dons to ding dongs. I wondered y they changed the name.

  26. AJ & Jules,

    My friend and I were discussing the Ding Dong situation over the past two days. We BOTH remember them as King Dons and coming in a foil wrapper. We thought that they were a separate product from Ding Dongs, so this dispels that rumor. We agree that the foil kept them fresher or moister somehow and that they tasted better than the cakes in plastic. I froze one last week and proceded to discect it. I shaved off the chocolate with a knife and ate it. Then, I proceded to scrape away as much of the dry cake product as possible so that I could enjoy the creme filling :-) Jules also says that she remembers the chocolate being thicker. It might just be that everything seems bigger or more or greater when we are small. We also agree that everyone who commented here have way too much time on their hands, but I felt that we needed to add something from 2009 to keep the string going!

  27. Sean,

    Ding Dong, King Dong. Does anybody know when and why they did away with the tin foil wrapping?

  28. xychromatic,

    I always thought that the King Dons (or Dongs, as I’ve seen it spelled) were larger. To be honest I haven’t either, in years. And I thought you r Don King joke was funny. Heidi’s just, well, got poor spelling. And it’s YOU’RE, Heidi! Y-O-U-FRICKIN’ APOSTROPHE-R-E! You’ve got some nerve calling someone uneducated….

  29. Cheif,

    They probably changed from foil to plastic because plastic is a lot cheaper and they make more profit. They are probably made in China now and the cream is probably some edible polymer blend.

  30. Tom,

    Well, to everyone who thinks Heidi is right, you have no sense of humor and you take things waaay too seriously. To Heidi, you’re just a bitch and I feel bad for you for having that big stick up your butt. Being that her comment was written in ’04, I doubt she’ll see this but I sure wish she would. Anyway, my wife and I had this argument. She swore up and down that Ding Dongs were NEVER named King Dons. Even though I showed her on Wikipedia how, when, and why the name was changed, she STILL swears she never had King Dons. Oh well. I do have to say though, that I never had any confusion with King Dons and Don King…..I actually like King Dons….lol.

  31. Lisa,

    when did they stop the foil, i miss it and the cake is different now to. why mess with something that was a long time success. We want the old ding dongs back no matter what u want to name them and i’d pay extra for the foil they were that much better.

  32. Jeff,

    I remember the picture of the cake dressed in regal attire holding the scepter on the King Dons box, as mentioned in another comment. Here in Alabma growing up in the 70s, they were Ding Dongs, then King Dons, then back to Ding Dongs. The thing I found strange is Big Wheels. I’ve never heard of those and would like to see a pictue of that box. That name seems like it would cause confusion, since a kid might say they wanted a Big Wheel for Christmas and wind up with a box of renamed Ding Dongs. There’s a guy on a Dr. Demento Basement Tapes CD that has a hilarious song called, “Twinkies and Ding Dongs” that made me think about them. Now, I’m going to have to buy a box of Ding Dongs today!

  33. Bill B,

    Ok..here we go!

    As Sgt Hulka once put it….”lighten up Heidi (Francis)”

    If you grew up in the northeast (early 70′s-present) they were known as Big Wheels! I remember being pissed in the 80′s when they switched the name to King Dons. “Where are my beloved BIG WHEELS?” Well I will tell you where that name went….Chief Big wheel was the name of the character on the front of the box and The PC machine killed that name. But to me that is the name that I want back because from 2-12 Big wheels…..had that taste and creaminess that I loved. Ding dongs….no….King Dons ….no.

    Also…Big Wheels came in a box(12) foil wrapped and yes they were so damn fresh…but they also came in a pack of two placed on cardboard in a yellow almost plastic pouch that was hermetically(I used spell checker for Heidi’s sake)sealed…air tight I mean by that. When you would open the package it would sound like a tire deflating for a second.

    Anywho, I was eating a ding dong today and was wondering what happened to my beloved Big Wheels! Bring back the big wheel name and the damn Indian head dress…enough with the PC….it’s a snack!

    Oh…I too believe the Chocolate was thicker and the cake was moister. I have a feeling it has something to do with the oil they use now. Just like the donuts that don’t taste the same anymore (non trans fat oil) …the Hostess products are less moist. I believe the Big wheels almost had a suzy q moistness to them instead of the dry devil dog (sorry to cross drakes and hostess lines here) like cake we get now. Please feel free to dispel my thinking or myth if you will!

    HOSTESS….Bring back my BIG WHEELS! I was pissed when the two packs showed up at my local purity supreme (another super market gone by the wayside) as king Dons and not Big Wheels. BIGWHEELS BIGWHEELS BIG WHEELS! Chief Big Wheel forever! Google images “Hostess Big Wheels” and you will see the original!

    If anyone remembers Chocolite bars and those damn good Pillsbury spiral cinnamon thingies that came in an almost pop tarts like box that had a separate pouch of glaze in it. You would toast them and then put the glaze on it. Not the cinnamon buns in a tube or toaster strudels (blahhh).

    I mean they came in a pop tarts like box and were pastries shaped like a spiraled snaked with no filling in them(all dough) but had cinnamon crumble smooshed on to them and you would toast them and then put the glaze on….Holy heck they were INSANE!!!! Please save my lost memory of glory greatness. Chime in please.


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