Hostess Gets Real About Millennial Parenthood

In a campaign to sell snack cakes, Hostess holds a mirror up to the struggle.

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Child holding box of Hostess Twinkies
Photo: calimedia (Shutterstock)

Hostess, that stalwart purveyor of cupcakes with curly swirls of icing on top and a mainstay in our snacking lives, has recently held up a mirror to the state of millennial parenthood, and I, a millennial parent, am staring agape at the reflection. The company’s findings—part of an otherwise innocuous marketing campaign—indicate that parents of young children are struggling; they don’t feel like they are doing enough for their kids and wish they could do more. Hear, hear. I just didn’t think a snack cake brand would be presenting us with such harsh truths.

Wakefield Research conducted the survey, whose findings were compiled into a pleasing infographic. The major takeaway is that parents want to create spontaneous moments and have more fun with their kids, but don’t have enough time or money to do so. As the brand that commissioned the research, Hostess seems to be implying that if parents want an affordable way to have some spontaneous family fun, they can buy some tasty snack cakes. But that connection to Hostess products isn’t exactly obvious—when you scroll through the infographic, it reads more like a sad summation of the struggle of modern parenthood than a thinly veiled ad for Twinkies.

An excerpt from the survey infographic.
An excerpt from the survey infographic.
Image: Hostess
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According to the survey, 70% of millennial parents worry they don’t spend enough time to doing fun activities with their kids, and 31% are “very” worried about not spending enough quality time together. But busy schedules and finances are holding them back: Planned activities act as a barrier for 59% of parents while finances get in the way of spontaneity for 63%. A stark 75% of families that earn under $100,000 per year are “significantly more likely to cite finances as an obstacle” to having fun.

And finally, the sales pitch: The infographic results say 99% of those surveyed agreed that indulgent snacks make for a fun and spontaneous family moment, wink wink, and the report closes with a call to action to visit hostesscakes.com and learn more about “snacks that add more spontaneous fun to your day.” I might do that later, but first I need to reevaluate my family’s relationship to fun and spontaneity, what it means to be a millennial parent, and how I can stop feeling like I’m failing at it. So, thanks, I guess, to Hostess for these less than comforting thoughts. Happy holidays?