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Tuesday 23 January 2001

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.

Posted by tino at 17:00 23.01.01
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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..

Posted by: heidi at August 19, 2004 07:40 PM

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.

Posted by: Tino at August 19, 2004 08:23 PM

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!

Posted by: Candy at August 26, 2004 01:32 PM

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.

Posted by: JonnyB at September 16, 2004 01:28 PM


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…

Posted by: Amie at September 21, 2004 04:18 PM

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

Posted by: Amie at September 21, 2004 04:21 PM

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!!


Posted by: morena at September 26, 2004 02:04 PM

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

Posted by: Jamie Lee at October 1, 2004 04:51 AM


You have a improperly hyphenated adverb again.

Posted by: Shaye at October 11, 2004 05:33 PM

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

Posted by: Shaye at October 11, 2004 05:35 PM

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….

Posted by: Ric at February 15, 2005 04:20 PM

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.

Posted by: at February 25, 2005 05:09 AM

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??

Posted by: Brett at April 22, 2005 07:51 PM

Yep, they used to be wrapped in foil.

They appear in Freaks and Geeks (good, now cancelled TV show set in 1980) in their old, individually wrapped foil bits.

Posted by: at April 25, 2005 05:33 PM

This is really a crazy world. How can anybody understand all this crazy stuff all around? It’s so meaningless, but in one way it’s fantastic!

Posted by: Sybill june at April 26, 2005 08:50 AM

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

Posted by: Twinkie The Kid at May 8, 2005 08:38 AM

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.

Posted by: Kristi at June 7, 2005 03:04 PM