Thursday, November 27, 2014


Since I grew up in the midwest, I never had a chance to buy any Big Wheels snack cakes. I wasn't even aware of the product until I discovered the boxes for sale on ebay. Big Wheels existed only out east or where Drake's Ring Dings were sold. Essentially, Big Wheels are Ding Dongs. I'm not sure on all the legalities, but Hostess wasn't allowed to sell Ding Dongs in Ring Ding territory because of the similar sounding name and shape. I would like to know the history behind the creation of the Big Wheels mascot Chief Big Wheels. I wonder why Hostess decided to go with a Native American themed character? I suppose since they already had Twinkie the Kid they were going for the whole cowboys and Indian thing. But what does an Indian Chief have to do with a wheel? I like the character, but I'm thinking a race car driver would have been a better fit, especially in the early 1970s.

I added the above box to my collection a couple of years ago and it came from my friend Waffle Whiffer who is a big Hostess collector. Check out his amazing Hostess archive here. Waffle send over this very cool pic of a Chief Big Wheels hat premium from his collection. It's a fantastic piece!

If you have an eagle eye you might notice on the hat that Chief Big Wheels is orange. That's because orange flavored Big Wheels were available for sometime.

Orange Big Wheels

From Dan Goodsell's collection, here's a rare box of Big Wheels with the orange flavor frosting! Kinda funny a snack cake that's marked vitamin fortified.

The above vacuform Chief Big Wheels has been in my collection for a few years now and came from our friends at the Tiki Ranch. I'm guessing it was probably part of a larger display and is also from the early 70s.  The big V started showing up on Hostess products around the same time.

I was hoping to find an old Big Wheels commercial, but there doesn't seem to be any online. Was there any made? I did find two ads from the early 1970s pushing the vitamin fortified campaign.

For one last Big Wheels item, here's a fun iron-on premium from Waffle Whiffer's collection.

Chief Big Wheels

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May the day be filled with happiness and neato cool fun!!!


Waffle Whiffer [Brandon] said...

Wonderful post, and Happy Thanksgiving!

I had the same thoughts as to why they picked an Indian Chief, to go along with the Cowboy. It might have also been fun had it been a Caveman, you know inventing the wheel.

Love that vacuum formed sign! Those are so tough to find. Definitely that's from the early '70s.

Let's see -- Hostess had a Cowboy, an Indian Chief, a Sailor, a King, a Magician -- Hey, just add in a Construction Worker and it's The Village People!

Tom said...

In an odd legal twist, Hostess wasn't allowed to sell their Big Wheels where Mattel Big Wheels were sold for fear a child might attempt to ride a frosted cake down a hill. But seriously, I'd never heard of Big Wheels or the Ring Ding/Ding Dong controversy. A few years ago, Drakes moved into the midwest. I wonder if they are restricted from selling Ring Dings. Ah, the shoe is on the other foot!

Todd Franklin said...

Waffle - Great idea for Caveman Big Wheels! I'd like to see an artist tackle that version. Also, now I want to see the Hostess gang sing YMCA! Thanks again for the use of your hat image!

Tom - Ooh, Hostess should have had a Mattel Big Wheels promotion back in the day! Hmm...that's a good point about Ring Dings in the midwest. Makes you wonder.

Unknown said...

Great article! I learned a lot. I have a Chief Big Wheels head dress and was wondering how much it is worth. The condition is pretty nice and the color is still there. It has a couple tears and the previous owner taped but you could barely see it from the front.