Humor and Sarcasm

The Great Hostess Snack Cake Shootout

Published November 16, 2012

It’s a sad and dark day here at Lensrentals. For years, we’ve worked really long hours fueled largely by coffee and snack cakes. Not just any snack cakes, of course. Hostess snack cakes. So today’s very sad news that Hostess is shutting it’s doorsis a devastating blow to us.

First Kodak. Now Hostess. What will be next? I don’t mind telling you we’re getting a little paranoid around here. So many memories. And it’s not just the nutritional value I’ll miss. Few people realize the huge contributions Twinkies have made to science.

I’ve been on a diet for, oh, about a year now, so my grief is doubled. I feel even worse knowing I’ve neglected my favorite brand during it’s last days. I should have been there for you, Hostess, waistline be damned. If only I had known how little time we had left.

Like a film photographer when Kodak announced bankruptcy, when I heard the news I went straight to the local market to stock up some last deliciousness. I can’t eat any of it right now, but hey, the shelf life of a Twinkie is like 15 years so they would be there waiting for me. Not to mention there will probably be a huge market for these things on eBay in a few years. It was an investment. Like lenses.

Roger’s Plans Go Awry Again

Returning to the office with what is either a large bag of potential deliciousness or my retirement plan (depending on what the value of Authentic Twinkies is like in a few years), I actually went to work. That, as is so often the case, is when the problems started. You see, we had backup photographers Scott and Scott taking product photos because Joey was busy.

Well, Scott and Scott teamed up to take the ultimate best product photo of a 24mm f/1.4 lens ever made (click here for the full size version):

The Ultimate Product Photo


I know what you’re thinking: “Roger, what does this have to do with delicious snack cakes?” Well hang on. I’m getting to that.

I may have mentioned to Joey once or 43 times, “Man, Scott and Scott (AKA Scott Squared) sure did take some great product photos. No need for you to rush back to that job.” He apparently took in personally. After a few hours of me saying this repetitively. And getting a few (dozen) other people to mention it.

Soooo, when I asked Scott Squared to make me a nice memorial photo of some Hostess Deliciousness, they did. Joey, being somewhat irritated, said he should also make a Hostess Photo and we would let people judge who should be doing the product shots from now on.

Scott Squared offered us this lovely shot, complete with a goodbye offering from Lensrentals. We sure will miss our Hostess products.


Scott Squared’s Photo


Joey then disappeared with my snack cakes, several banks of lights and a couple of assistants (it’s a slow Friday afternoon, obviously) and presented this shot.


Joey’s dark photo, which took much longer and had several assistants, so it was probably cheating.


One thing you may notice, in addition to the artistic through-the-bottom-of-the-case lighting, and the use of several strobes and several reflectors, is that JOEY TOOK MY SNACK CAKES OUT OF THE WRAPPERS!!! This not only decreased the shelf life of my treats by months, if not years, it probably hurt the resale value considerably. I mean, everybody knows you keep the box to sell it in, right?

And as if that wasn’t hurtful enough, Joey told me he had another shot for me to consider. As if I wasn’t overwhelmed with grief already.



Joey’s story is that once the snack cakes were unwrapped, it released the delicious Hostess artificial pheromone-laden smells that made it impossible for them to resist eating my snacks. My. Snacks.

But I’m a man of my word, so I want everyone to vote impartially in the comments section for which photo you prefer.

You can vote for either Scott’s Squared cheerful little product shot, which I think is a lovely homage to an old friend now departed. It brings back happy thoughts of a simpler time, doesn’t it?

Or, if you prefer, you can vote for the dark, evil shot taken by Joey and other untrustworthy, weak-willed persons of no self-control, with its bleak landscape of ravaged food. It brings up thoughts of a stark and cheerless future where no one is happy, doesn’t it? That’s possibly because I will now make it my life’s work to be certain no one involved in taking this photo is ever happy again. Ever.

And feel free, those of you who would like, to say a few words about the departed Hostess products. They will be missed. Even you Vegans had you a Twinkie way back in the day, now, didn’t you?

Oh, for you Fanboys: This is a Hostess post. This is not the time for trolling, telling us how your brand of snack cakes is better.

I’ll tally up the votes later. Right now I’m off to see if there are any Hostess products left on the shelf of the neighborhood grocery store.


Roger Cicala

November, 2012

Author: Roger Cicala

I’m Roger and I am the founder of Hailed as one of the optic nerds here, I enjoy shooting collimated light through 30X microscope objectives in my spare time. When I do take real pictures I like using something different: a Medium format, or Pentax K1, or a Sony RX1R.

Posted in Humor and Sarcasm
  • Joe

    Too soon – Hostess is gone again…

    Joey had to pay up on some earlier bets, thus your snacks are no more. Proper punishment would be cleaning all filters in stock…

  • Roger Cicala

    F200, that made a dreary Monday a wonderful day worth celebrating!!!

    I’m fairly certain my blog post helped move the two sides closer together.

  • F200
  • Justin

    Ah, I got a good laugh from the post. I have to vote for Scott’s work. Partially because I like the brighter composition but also because with the items in their wrappers I can actually tell what they are.

    I don’t care if Hostess folds but they bought Drake’s a few years ago. Funny Bones are the greatest things on Earth and it is a dark, cold future without them.

  • Well I have to vote for Scott Squared for the simple fact that I don’t like cheaters. 2nd of all, if this was supposed to be a LENSRENTALS tribute, then Scott definitely wins as you can’t even read the logo on Joey’s well at all. Not only that, but a large part of what makes Hostess product a Hostess product is that it’s packaged as a Hostess product. By removing (and not even including the wrapper) Joey’s could just as easily been a forgery from some other company.

  • I vote for Joey’s shot. The second version of it lacks the balance and cohesiveness of the first, but it does convey an appreciation for the terrible, terrible glory of American industrially-produced junk food products.

    If someone does not buy the rights to the raspberry Zingers, I will live the rest of my life as a bitter man, indeed.

  • JulieK

    It’s funny, but I’ve been all ‘meh, whatever’ about the Twinkie doom. But then I realized that Hostess also makes those wonderful chocolate cupcakes, the fruit pies, and the to-die-for Snoballs (pink only, please). So I’m sad, very, very sad. And Joey’s shot evokes that sadness and sense of loss perfectly. My vote to his photos.

  • Roger, I wouldn’t be too hard on Joey. Looking at The Scotts’ photo, I can see that the Twinkies freshness date is Nov 18th 2012. Points for them; their product shot is useful. It leads me to wonder though, if the shelf-life is something like 12 years on a Twinkie, then the store you bought these from sold you some pretty old Twinkies. If Joey really ate any of them(debatable really, who eats a fruit pie like that?) you might want to get him to a doctor.


  • Lester

    You’ve got some talented snappers there. Good luck deciding who gets to do which product shots in the future… (smile)

  • Siegfried

    and my vote doesn’t mean I’d like only Joey to do the product photography from now on. No.
    We need the left hand and the right hand.
    We need 0’s and 1’s.
    We need food and water.
    We need the logical side of the brain and the emotional one.
    We need light and darkness.
    We need heaven and hell.
    We need girls and boys (though, for different purposes).
    We need Canon and still Nikon.

    I insist that both Scott^2’d and Joey are making product shots from now on.


  • Siegfried


    “Thatโ€™s possibly because I will now make it my lifeโ€™s work to be certain no one involved in taking this photo is ever happy again. Ever.”

    Initially I read it as ‘my wife’s work’ and was going to comment your marriage and wish all the best to your wife, but upon the second perusal I found myself wrong. Nevertheless, I still wish all the best to Mrs. Cicala. Oh, yes – and I vote for Evil Joey. Not that I’m saying his shot is perfect – too much through-the-whole-backlight to my taste – but it’s a good one. It drives me whatever the afterstory it goes with.


  • CarVac

    I vote Scott^2 because of the better lighting; I don’t like the varying white balances creating odd colors in the textures of the food in Joey’s shots.

  • Jeremy

    Hahaha great and sad article ๐Ÿ™

    Pro tip(s) on the product shot – Get a nice little camel-hair brush and get the dust off the lens before the shoot. Also, wipe the mount oil/dirt off the mount, since the shiny metal is easily rendered dirty from mounting.
    Lastly, make sure the reflection of your flash isn’t visible in the optics ๐Ÿ˜€

    As for the product shot – Scott^2 all the way – one typically wants bright and cheery for a product shot, especially food. High contrast and lots of dark tones can imply evil, decay, rot, or melancholy.

    And that’s the last thing we need – melancholiness and Twinkies.

  • James

    If Joey does that to sweet sweet cakes what does he do to the lenses? I vote Scottses.

  • Yue

    Is that an office chair i see in the rear element?

  • Adriana

    Joey for sure ! I only had a Twinkie once, when I first moved to the US and didn’t really like it but couldn’t belive the number of people at workmtoday who were suffering after the announcement. I’ll be sending them the link to this most illuminating homage to Hostess cakes.

  • John

    Scott’s shot is a little underwhelming, just a thrown together shot. And the 24L lens shot, nobody does the back unless its for sale, he should have shot the front. I’d have to vote for Joey’s first effort , even though he should have used a little fill for the bottom of the products. The 2nd shot screams phony; the food was not bitten, only broken in half. Afraid of a little chemistry Joey? A few teeth marks next time, please.

  • Tim

    I have to vote for the Scott’s. Not that their shot was more artistic or technically proficient…it just seems wrong for Joey to leave all of that Hostess yummy goodness half eaten. It looks like an orgy of snack cake violence!

  • Also, you can’t rush art, especially when you’re on the clock.

    Lighting setup, for those who like that sort of thing:

    3 600EX-RTs–1 camera right, 15×15 softbox, 1/8 power; 1 camera left, fired into a 2’x3′ piece of white foam core for fill; 1 high and behind the twinkies, gridded snoot and full CTO
    1 Lightpanels Micro–inside the lens bag at full brightness

    Camera settings were 1/60 f/11 ISO400, WB set manually to 6000K. I boosted the contrast to make it extra artsy, I mean moody. Canon 180 macro on a 1D-X, because we have a few laying around.

  • I’m going to go ahead and vote for myself, too. I made ART. No, wait, I need to slap an Instagram filter on it first. Here:

    Now it is truly art. Sutro makes it so.

  • I gotta throw my vote toward Joey. I think the deciding factor is the lighting inside the case.

    I will miss Twinkies. All the post-apocalyptic fiction that glorifies them will have even more fuel for their fires now, too.

  • Sadness, and possibly hate, are emotions which seem to have been evoked by Joey’s photo. And due to this, I feel it is the more powerful photo. Even though he messed up the white balance and clipped the blacks too much. I think that reflection in the lens is distracting too. I kept looking for a reflection of a twinkie box as some kind of proof they ate them. The story didn’t go there though. I just assumed, since you are a truth sleuth.


  • Pete Johnson

    Scott & Scott’s product of obviously puffed up egos sitting there,oh so clinical, empty (well, not really), tasteless. Barbie and Ken in their original, never opened or to be opened boxes. Meant to live (?) on a shelf in some Leave it to Beaver home that never existed. It’s analogous to a Shelby AC Cobra 427 sitting forever in the garage, only to be admired, not driven. LOOK but don’t touch!
    Joey and his humble assistants. Putting the product before themselves. True artists wanting to display good taste. Oh! how they succeeded! Freeing the golden Twinkies from their dark, twisted prison. The pure white of the virginal SnoBalls. Releasing the warm, wafting scent of true Chocolate Cupcakes (remember “better living through chemistry”?).Down in the streets where the rubber meets the road. A contented, thankful sigh after a hard days labor. A few hours respite before slogging back to a merciless, cruel unappreciative taskmaster.
    Scott and Scott-3 points-good lighting of a challenging dynamic range.
    Joey- 10- OK technique, questionable resolution in the 2nd image BUT a fascinating example of OOOh! these pictures, what a story they tell! What they leave unsaid says as much as what they say (huh?).
    Roger-envy is such an ugly attribute (that’s really what this is all about, isn’t it?) in other people.

  • Taty

    I love you guys!!! Great post!! I vote for Joey’s photo!! Never ate Hostess products(ok,i think i ” tried” a twinkies once..)but indeed sad news for the ones who love them!! Although i feel sadder with film photography vanishing ;(

  • The Scotties image is functionally a LR product pic. The snacks are simply decorative, forming a frame that drops off to whiteness (Go toward the light, Twink, the light…). The glare on the cello distracts, and details like expiration dates should have been disappeared — really, what IS an expiration date in Twinkieland?

    Joey’s first dark is a proper homage to the lord of all snack cakes. However, like all high contrast scenes, there is trouble in highlights land. Has Joey not heard of HDR? It’s a reasonably refined process now and would have rendered a more pleasing representation of cakey reality.

    Finally the last image must fall into the abstract realm as there is no reality there. Whoever could possibly stop in mid-Twinkie? This is just bogus.

    All are flawed, but if I were forced (or paid in Twinkies) to vote, it would be for Joey 1. Maybe a few more packages could be opened for a reshoot in HDR?

  • Ray

    Scott Squared obviously. The second and third photo is pure, disgusting snack cake porn! They have been stripped of their coverings and photographed in various inappropriate positions of abuse! Everyone knows you eat one snack at a time!

  • Steve7100

    How much is a 4 day rental on a full box of Twinkies ?
    I’ll need the damage waiver as well, I can’t say how many will be returned.

    I like Joey’s shot for the effort. Could have used a food stylist though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • YN

    I vote for Joey’s!

  • Roger Cicala


    I don’t disagree, but for purposes of pulling Joey’s chain it served admirably.

  • You can clearly see the off camera flash reflected in the lens in the 24L photo. I think this might disqualify it as the ultimate best product photo ever made. I can’t stop staring at it.

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