An Ode to Zingers

Sweet-ass gunk

Fucking Mexicans. Wherever high-octane pastries are sold—whether at 7-Elevens, gas station racks or supermarkets—their snacks continue to occupy more and more shelf space. And we're not talking about delicious, locally produced pan dulce—the invading Mexicans are offshoots of Grupo Bimbo, the multibillion-dollar Mexican corporation that's preparing to open an Orange County plant. Their bite-sized bits of reconquista, all adorned with a white-bear-with-poofy-hat logo, have pushed out the lower end of American fast-food snacks. Sno Balls. Yum Yums. Suzy Q's. Home Run Pies. Honey Buns. And Zingers.

Zingers was the cake of my youth, a Twinkies knockoff that took that icon's essential structure—small, moist, two to a pack and filled with a sickly-sweet cream—but improved on it in two crucial ways. One was by offering different flavors—chocolate, vanilla and a strawberry-ish scarlet-colored flavor sprinkled with coconut shavings; the first two also featured a thick layer of hardened frosting on top. The most important Zingers improvement, however, was cost. My local Sav-On sold boxes filled with Zingers for two dollars.

My cousins and I gorged on Zingers for the better part of two decades—as children, as teens, as lushes needing to soak up booze or fuel all-night Madden NFL Football marathons. As I grew older, and my body could no longer weather a box of Zingers for dinner yet continued to long for it, I made a compromise: whenever I did a good deed—a raise, for instance, or a new girlfriend—I would buy myself two packs of Zingers and Strawberry Quik. The sugar rush left me doubled over in pain—and I wanted more.

But it's getting harder and harder to find Zingers. Last week, in preparation for this article, I visited four 7-Elevens, five Sav-Ons, many gas marts and even the 99-Cent store—nothing. It could just be location—I limited my search for Zingers to Santa Ana and Irvine, places with immigrant-majority residents not versed in the art of sweet-ass gunk. But the Sav-On near my parents' home doesn't have that two-dollar Zingers special, a special offered as recently as last year. Nor does the 7-Eleven where I bought some vanilla Zingers around Cinco de Mayo for my beloved's birthday. When I asked the turbaned Sikh where those Zingers were, he pointed me to another shelf. There, lying pristine, were Submarinos, a Bimbo rip-off of Zingers. Fucking Mexicans.