By now you’ve probably heard the news that Hostess Brands, Inc. is history.

After one of the company’s largest unions – the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) – initiated a nationwide strike that crippled its ability to produce and deliver products at numerous facilities, Hostess has filed for bankruptcy and will close 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores throughout the United States.

Perhaps there are bigger fish to fry these days, but this is no minnow. Hostess stuff is one of those things you just take for granted living in the USA, and now that it’s going away, I feel like a couple of molars have been yanked from the mouth of the sweet-tooth world.

Not that I regularly consume a pile of Twinkies. Since I reached an age when my waist line began to expand and my viewpoint changed regarding the relative value of junk foods, I haven’t been too keen on wolfing down million-calorie, chemical laden, oddly-shaped sugar modules.

But even though I may not have been Hostess’ biggest fan over the past few decades, the news of their demise still comes as a bit of a shock. Like a lot of remnants of the Post World War II baby boom, I grew up in the company’s heyday, when Ding Dongs were cool and Sno Balls were considered a gooey delicacy. Hostess was like this integral part of society, and along with a lot of other folks, I never gave a second thought back then to the wisdom of eating its famous products, and the sight or sound of one of its advertising mascots or jingles would often get me in the mood for a snack pastry.

Doug Davison

Through the years, Hostess was so much a part of every day existence that almost everyone formed an opinion about its various offerings, and I can clearly recall being in discussions (almost arguments) about which one was best. Personally, I was always kind of a Ding Dong guy, but I had my phases with CupCakes, Sno Balls, and even those little crumb cake Donettes.

Interestingly, I don’t remember a single instance when someone argued on behalf of the fruit pies. But then, given the choice, what kid (or adult, for that matter) would choose a cherry pie over a Ding Dong? In my estimation, a crusty pastry that basically contains jam doesn’t hold a candle to a soft cake-like object resembling a hockey puck coated with chocolate and stuffed with that tantalizing whipped cream.

Of course, my dog Jamie pretty much resembles an overgrown Twinkie, even though he has never actually eaten one. When the big ol’ Corgi heard that Hostess was no longer going to be part of the snack food landscape, his carnivorous side took over.

“There’ll still be pork chops, right?”

“Yes big man, and hot dogs and rib eye steaks, too.”

“Mmm, that’s the good stuff.”

As far as the real-life value of most Hostess products goes, I realize there pretty much isn’t any. If measured on a scale of 1-to10, the nutritional value of a Sno Ball or Ho Ho would probably be about minus-4.

But that doesn’t make the stuff any less tasty, and I don’t mind admitting to enjoying an occasional two-pack.

When I was in junior high and high school in Bellevue, Wash., I got to witness total dedication to a Hostess product, as one of my good friends was the Suzy Q king, and every day ate at least a couple of those sandwich-like cavity bombs. Although I never reached that level, I won’t pretend I couldn’t relate.

Being the nutritionally worthless, but taste bud pleasing sugar receptacles they are, my guess is that over the years Hostess snack foods indirectly caused some hypocrisy. I mean, I’ll bet there has been many a dentist who has warned patients to stay away from Twinkies and Ding Dongs, while regularly scarfing down a half dozen under the cover of darkness in a hall closet or attic. And I figure more than just a couple of school teachers have spoken out against Sno Balls and Ho Hos in the public setting of a fourth-grade classroom before going home and breaking out their precious box of luscious, crème-filled treasures (if that makes you feel a conviction or guilt, don’t fret; it’s OK – we understand).

From what I’ve heard, some Hostess products will apparently still be available in some fashion, because the bankruptcy deal involves selling their rights to other companies. But while Hostess’ bread brands like Wonder, Nature’s Pride and Butternut might be just fine being produced by someone else, I’m guessing that won’t be the case with the sugary stuff.

Even following the same recipe, I doubt anybody will ever make a cupcake the way Hostess did. And who wants a Little Debbie Ding Dong or a Mrs. Freshley’s Twinkie, anyway?

Anyway, I guess it’s time to move on and begin life without Hostess. But while I know there will still be plenty of ways to get a junk food fix, I can’t shake the feeling that the shelves in the snack cake section of Walmart just won’t seem as attractive.

It’s funny how I haven’t paid much attention to Hostess products of late (much less eat them with any frequency), and now I’m craving a Ding Dong.

Shoot, with the way things are now I’ll probably have to settle for a Zebra Cake.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email:

While our 35-pound block of Welsh Corgi named Jamie is pretty well known for letting me help him produce a column now and then, there’s another dog that also roams the grounds of the remote Texas County outpost my wife and I call home.

Her name is Gertie, and at the risk of sounding like I’m exaggerating, I thought I would describe her without incorporating anything but truth.

I call her the Perma-Pup. She’ll be two years old in December, but she still acts like a puppy. Actually, I’ll take that back – few puppies have ever acted like Miss Gertrude (or dogs of any age, for that matter).

Her energy level is always on high, and from the instant she wakes up to the moment she turns in for the night, she spends the vast majority of her time on a quest for fun. It’s relentless, really, and there is little or nothing that deters her.

It’s pleasure and silliness or bust, 24/7.

While Jamie obviously possesses the classic long, low and wide physique of a pure-bred Corgi, Gertie is also of Corgi decent but with a twist. She’s a bit sleeker, and unlike Jamie and most real Corgis, has a tail any fox would be proud of, complete with a little white tip. It often curves forward, like it’s pointing the way to her next assignment on the mission of fun, and it frequently wags like a big feather duster.

Doug Davison

We’re not really sure what other breed is in Gertie’s blood, or what percent of her genes it comprises, but whatever it is, one thing is certain: it’s not large and sluggish.

Adding to her unique personality is a way of producing sound effects that most people who hear them indicate they’ve never heard before. The best example of her unique vocals can always be heard when she comes in from the rain and has to be toweled off before crossing the line between laundry room and kitchen. I don’t know if Gertie is ticklish or what, but she growls and snarls like a crazed banshee the whole time the towel is touching her body.

It’s impossible for the toweler not to crack up while the towelee displays this behavior.

Anyway, since she’s a “wonder dog” (we wonder what mix she is), and combines ultra-energy with weird sounds, I like to say she’s part Corgi, and part gremlin.

Of course, gremlins are not real – but then this dog is unreal.

Whether the temperature is 102, 6, or 74, Gertie much prefers being outdoors to indoors. Her typical day is spent outside dealing with “her animals.” My wife Wendy and I like to say “she has” six chickens, three cats, two horses and one donkey. If you saw the way she interacts with all of them, you’d know why.

She’s almost always hanging out with a horse, lounging with a cat, or observing the movement of some chickens. And she loves to chase them – well, not the donkey; Abe doesn’t move for her. But she gets a big kick out of getting the horses up to a gallop or making a cat run for the cover of an outbuilding. And she does it simply because she can.

But for reasons I’m sure they understand, the horses don’t always react to Gertie’s antics. Sometimes they just stand still and chew grass while she runs figure-eights around them and barks her little head off.

I think I once heard Big Sur say, “as if.”

She obviously has no fear, and seems to enjoy being around her gentle giants, but I guess do to some extent I question the wisdom of a 10-pound canine running patterns around 850-pound equines. But it seems to work for her, and so far she hasn’t injured any of them.

Speaking of barking, Gertie takes that to another level, too.

I’ve seen her barking like mad a few feet from a possum’s face, and in equally close proximity to snakes and turtles. I once even witnessed her giving a coyote an earful from a distance of only about 20 yards. The big cousin was doing that head-tilt thing, as if to say, “what in the world?” Then it saw me and trotted away.

When we go on walks, Gertie gets into this unusual sniffing mode that is accompanied by another sound effect that’s as exclusively hers as the banshee-gremlin-growl. It’s like a snorting, and I kind of compare it to a metal detector at work. I just know there’s some kind of primeval motive involved and it’s somehow helping her hone in on the good smells and glean information about them.

When most dogs sit, the bottoms of their hind feet are usually in contact with the surface of whatever they’re sitting on. Not the Perma-pup.

When Gertie sits, the insides of her thighs are on the ground. Same with when she lies down; her legs sort of go out to the side and her belly is on the ground or floor. We joke about her “chicken legs” when she does that.

When her day is done – usually at about 9:15 p.m. or so – Gertie just stops. It’s as if she’s battery-powered and someone turned off a switch (although if her energy truly was supplied artificially, a turbine or other major power plant would be required, because to my knowledge a battery hasn’t yet been devised that could deliver sufficient juice to keep her going). When the right time comes, she will literally walk into the living room, flop on the floor with a thud, and the perpetual motion comes to a sudden halt.

At that point, that’s all she wrote; another big day in a lifelong series of big days is over, just like that. And I must say, not one of those big days goes by when this little ball of furry fun fails to make us smile.

She’s not the Perma-pup for nothing. Forever young, forever energetic – forever silly.

Good girl.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email:

Gertie – a.k.a. the Perma-pup.

He’s long and low.

He has deceptive power and speed.

He’s 35 pounds of relentless personality.

He’s our Big Lug.

Introducing Jamie, a four-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

Most dog owners love their animals and are quick to describe everything that makes their canine companion unique and amazing. And why not? Most dogs definitely have their own unique and fascinating characteristics.

At the risk of sounding like I’m exaggerating, I’m here to tell you that Jamie takes unique and fascinating to the next level. At very least, there have in history been few sillier representatives of the canine species than Jamie.

I realize he hasn’t cornered the silly market, but he’s definitely a major share-holder. He’s like silly on steroids.

Doug Davison

When my daughter and I first saw him at an animal shelter in Oceanside, Calif., we knew there was something more to him than the average dog. When I went back to rescue him a couple of days later, it was as if he had always been our dog. He got in the car like he felt he belonged there and looked at me as if to ask “so, what’s for dinner tonight?”

He made a completely seamless transition from shelter castoff to comfortable pet. But we had to do something about that name on his papers: Carlo. No way – his name is Jamie.

Now that he has been a resident of Texas County for a few years, we’ve had ample opportunity to observe all of his behavioral patterns. What a character.

He speaks (OK, barks) in a deep, throaty baritone and when he wants to, he can make walls shake, apples fall from trees and cats run in 10 directions at once.

If Jamie spoke English, we’re pretty sure he would do so in sort of a low-key manner with a slightly high-pitched tone, laced with a bit of Forrest-Gump like drawl and a very minor lisp.

“Hey y’all. What ya doin’? Just let me know if there’s anything you need help eating. I won’t mind.” Sometimes he asks questions. It sounds almost like Tim Allen (the Home Improvement guy) joking about the cave man characteristics of men – “uuuhhh?” And when he speaks in a quieter tone, he’ll at times clearly put an “f” on his “woof.”

There’s a lot of power in Jamie’s wide shoulders. He’s shaped like a horizontal version of that Disney character Mr. Incredible; like a wedge with four legs.

If he played in the CFL (Canine Football League), I’m pretty sure he’d be a linebacker. If he were a weapon, he’d be a battering ram – or maybe a torpedo.

He’s like a land manatee with a turbo engine. Like a small walrus with racing fuel powered legs.

Jamie’s thick build definitely belies his mobility. The Big Lug can motor big-time for short distances and has truly perfected the “drop ‘n’ roll” move. When he’s having a running battle with another dog, he can get out of trouble almost like an F-18 pilot, rolling on the ground at full speed and popping up moving in a different direction, without so much as missing a step.

Perhaps one of his most notable and unique traits is that he is 100 percent omnivorous. Most dogs seem to agree that acceptable forms of human food include almost exclusively meaty and starchy fare, and being attracted to fruits and vegetables is more or less against species policy.

Jamie doesn’t adhere to policy. If it qualifies as food, he’s interested.

Raw broccoli stems, romaine lettuce, dill pickles, olives, squash, tomatoes, lima beans – it’s all yummy. And apples – “oh my, now those ARE good.”

Jamie’s so tuned into edible enjoyment that he can “hear” food, let alone smell it. He, of course, knows all the standard sounds of potential dining opportunities, like a can being opened or crunchies piling up in his bowl. But his keen sense of food sound goes way beyond that. His big ears perk up and he slowly walks into the room when my wife unscrews the top from a plastic container of nuts (he likes them all, but pecans are his favorite). He could be napping at the far end of the house, but if someone in the kitchen opens a zip-lock bag of cheddar cheese or pops the lid off of a container of leftover cole slaw, the telltale click-click-click sound of his claws making contact with the hardwood floor inevitably follows as Jamie gravitates toward the source of the food-related sounds in his own unhurried manner.

He knows the sound of cabbage being diced, carrots being sliced, and he quickly connects with the rustling of a bag of chips. Pretty much any time he hears food, he’s on it, pronto.

And speaking of ears, Jamie’s are basically huge, and at times seem motorized. They can move independently, almost like a chameleon’s eyes.

Reach down to pet him and his ears automatically go back against his head as if to offer your hand a smooth surface on which to slide. They’ll lie to the side when he’s relaxed, but at the sound of a pretzel being munched they’re immediately straight up.

Jamie sometimes acts like a bulldozer, and my wife even calls him that at times. If he thinks the ottoman is taking up too much space on the living room floor, he just lowers his head, leads with his shoulder (he seems to prefer his left side) and moves it.

One of his favorite positions when he’s chilling out is on his back, paws to the sky. And it works – he has plenty of back on which to lie.

Sometimes having Jamie around is like having a real-life cartoon. When he gets excited about going outside or is just generally acting silly in the living room, he’ll start to run, but it sometimes takes him a moment to get traction on the smooth hardwood floor and he ends up running in place just like Fred Flintstone or Yogi Bear. He’s also not a great judge of how soon to put on the brakes, and his momentum sometimes carries him right into furniture or walls.

Jamie has few fears. He’ll herd cows, bark fearlessly at unknown sounds coming from the woods at night, and lift his left upper lip at the biggest of canine rivals.

But he absolutely and unequivocally cannot stand thunder, and barks at all of the bigger booms.

“I don’t know what that sound is, but I just know it’s a baaaad thing.”

People seem to enjoy meeting Jamie and they love the feel of his thick coat of fur. That’s a win-win deal, because the Big Lug thoroughly enjoys them enjoying it.

A friend and his girlfriend were visiting our house a couple of years ago and the lady seemed fascinated by observing Jamie as he went through his routine. Finally, she just sort of blurted out the statement “full-size dog, little legs.”

I would add full-size silly and big-time funny.

That’s Jamie.

Look for a new addition soon to run every so often in the Herald. Jamie and I are going to do a new column together called “Doug and Jamie; Journeys in the Jillikins of a Dog and His Best Friend.”

We’ll travel places and I’ll write about our outings.

We might go to northern Arkansas, a Missouri state park or two, the national foxtrotter event in Ava, or down the road to a mile-away neighbor’s house, but we’ll always come back with a recap featuring snippets of both the human and Corgi perspective.

This was mainly Jamie’s idea and he’s really looking forward to it. I’ve given it plenty of thought since he brought it up, and I’m also thinking it should be pretty sweet.

This might not work with the average mutt at the end of the leash, but with the Big Lug at the helm it should at very least be worth a paragraph or two. And knowing Jamie, he’ll probably have plenty to say.

Should be interesting.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email:

Jamie and his sidekick Doug Davison.

Jamie exhibiting his classic Corgi look.