Sure, the crypto investments that last year may have taken you to Paris, France, will now only get you to Paris, Texas, but that hasn’t stopped the venerable Hostess Twinkie from jumping on the crypto bandwagon with the launch of the $TWINKCoin.
Now despite that dollar sign in front of the word TwinkCoin — Twitter code for a cryptocurrency exchange symbol, à la $BTC — it is not, in fact, a cryptocurrency, and you can’t buy anything with it, other than the love of your nephews and your dog — and possibly a trip to Weight Watchers.
The TWINKCoin is, in fact, a limited edition “coin-shaped, golden sponge cake” full of cream according to Hostess Brands, whose PR folks were able to confirm that this is actually, in fact, a real thing. Although we’d argue that it is a little more hockey-puck-shaped than coin-shaped.
As for why, well, Hostess said in a recent release that “cryptocurrency has generated a lot of headlines and discussion lately. So, Hostess Twinkies decided it was time to launch its own ‘currency’ that delivers a very tasty return.”
This seems a bit out of date considering that those headlines — particularly outside of crypto industry news outlets — have been pretty much all negative, with bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies down 70% or more since November. In June, blockchain analytics firm Glassnode found that slightly more than half of all bitcoin owners were in the red, and on July 4 announced “the expulsion of bitcoin tourists.”
Another hint that Hostess’ marketing team isn’t too up-to-date was its reference to stablecoins: “$TWINKcoin is a currency with a stable value — it’s always delicious!” That would be $3.49 per box.
Stablecoins’ reputation took a big hit during a week-long run in May, taking $48 billion and a fair bit of the dollar-pegged tokens’ credibility as a secure, long-term payments solution with it.
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Wait, no NFTs?
$TWINKCoins aren’t Hostess’ first co-branding launch — there were X-Men Twinkies in 2014 and Ghostbusters-themed Key Lime Slime Twinkies in 2016 as movie tie-ins — but it does seem to be the first new shape.
Nor is the current run a completely out-of-left-field marketing decision. Thanks to the color of the fur of memecoin Dogecoin’s Shiba Inu dog mascot, Doge Twinkies are a meme in their own right, attracting 589,000 results on Google.
Still, crypto marketing has been much more focused on non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the metaverse and, lately, Web3, despite the NFT market’s own recent collapse.
Which hasn’t stopped brands ranging from Balenciaga and McDonald’s to the Care Bears from jumping onboard the somewhat wobbly bandwagon: Only today (July 13) pro skateboarding legend Tony Hawk landed in The Sandbox’s crypto metaverse with a virtual skatepark and a collection of NFT avatars. Hostess, however, has not launched an NFT collection.
Hostess is far from the first food-related crypto marketing tie-in. There’s the Dogeburger restaurant in Dubai and Welly, an Italian restaurant chain that partnered with the developer of Shiba Inu ($SHIB), a memcoin spin-off of Dogecoin. And yes, of course, there are NFTs.
Which is not always a guarantee of crypto payments’ success. Los Angeles’ Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT-themed restaurant Bored & Hungry last month announced that it had stopped accepting crypto payments as customers “did not seem to care.”
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