We’re Mad About Our Sweet Sixteen Doughnuts

Hostess Sweet Sixteen, the former Merita Sweet Sixteen

Not mad happy. But mad furious. There is no defense for what Interstate Brands, the parent company of Merita, has done to Merita Sweet Sixteen. A very wonderful person in our house brought back a bag of Sweet Sixteen doughnuts. They are now Hostess Sweet Sixteen.

Anyone from the South knows Merita Sweet Sixteen doughnuts. Why are they so good? The first reason they are so good is that they are so good. There are also 16 in a package, so there are lots. They are white doughnuts, and are so tasty you might want to sit down and eat half the bag, which is what I did after photographing them for this article. You can see it is almost empty.

So, what’s wrong. LOOK ON THE LABEL. The Merita is gone. Gone. Kaput. Sayonara. The Merita has been replaced by Hostess. We don’t know if this is everywhere, or just Florida, but we are watching.

First, there is nothing wrong with the Hostess brand. It is a great brand, and associated with all sorts of goodness, including the Twinkie and the Hostess Cupcake. (We like Hostess Cupcakes better than Twinkies, by the way.)

Anyway, sometime recently, the Merita brand disappeared from the package, and now we have to eat Hostess Sweet Sixteen. Not as good.

Merita Donuts

There is another thing wrong with the package. The old package had a sort of teen dance party going on with the label. Get it? There were 16 doughnuts, and they were for a Sweet Sixteen birthday party. How innocent. How 1963!

Merita Sweet Sixteen was featured in Spy magazine back in the 1980s in a feature called Unwittingly Hip. A few years ago they updated the teen dance party and made it more modern. That was a big waste-o-time, but since we didn’t have this website to write about it, we didn’t do anything.

Recently, the company filed amended plans to get out of bankruptcy, and we sure hope they can. Life without Sweet Sixteen would be awful. But it sure would be better if it were Merita Sweet Sixteen and not Hostess Sweet Sixteen.


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website BrandlandUSA.com has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.


  1. NOT, as good as “Sweet Sixteen” !!!
    There good,but must not be the same recipe as the sweet sixteen.

    1. Do you happen to remember sweet n swingin donuts ?? They had drawing of 50s dancers and records on the box . I am trying to find the brand to hopefully find a picture

    2. Do you happen to remember sweet n swingin donuts? They had 50s dancers and records drawn in the box . I don’t know the brand ,but I would love to see the box

    3. Does anyone remember why sweet 16 was removed from the shelf

  2. I also grew up on sweet sixteen donuts by Merita. My mom and wife both complain about my over-sensitive taste buds. I bought the “new” sweet sixteens by Hostess twice. Once for the Chocolate covered (my favorites) by Merita and the powdered sugar covered. The dough texture was different and preservative tasting and the chocolate on the chocolate covered donuts had a nasty bitter after taste. Needless to say, I don’t but those donuts anymore. I couldn’t eat more than 3 from the powdered covered donuts and only one from the chocolate covered donuts. I miss them. I had been getting those donuts since the early sixties also. When will the food industry figure out that we are not all bufoons with no taste buds.New and improved usually means they substituted a cheaper ingredient to save a few pennies for their greedy CEOs at the expense of superior taste. When will they ever learn what “IF it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” means, and why it is said so frequently. I suppose they could make their money if everyone in the world bought one bag , spit it up and threw the rest of the bag away. But, to me it doesn’t appear to be a long term investment approach. They took an A+ product and new and improved it to a B-. i consider that to be a foolish business move since I myself used to buy 2 bags of each every week when they were good. Haven’t bought them since. After that it is strictly Dunkin’ oo Entemann’s. They are not as good as the original Sweet Sixteens were. But, they don’t bite you back like the Hhostess “Improved” versions do. ’nuff said.

    1. Author

      Is it a sort of metallic thing? And was that back then and now? Or is it just the Hostess version?

      1. Just the Hostess ones. Merita stayed true to form until they were no more. My best Sweet 16 memories were from missing the bus to middle school. My Dad would make me walk to school to teach me a lesson about being on time. Little did he know the hike was well worth it because I would pass a bakery shop along the way. It just so happened my lunch money would cover one bag of Sweet 16’s. Sadly they weren’t always in stock… Oh the humanity!

        1. Author

          The bakery stores were always cheap. I seem to recall that the Merita were more powdery, and less sticky. And now that I think about it, which ones had more of a metallic taste?

  3. My friends, I have good news! Entenmann’s Powdered donuts taste EXACTLY like our old sweet sixteen donuts before Hostess bought the name! My husband is from New Jersey and Entenmann’s is really big up there. I am from Greensboro, NC and have missed the sweet sixteen donuts forever! After trying the Entenmann ones, I was like “It’s my SWEET SIXTEEN DONUTS!”

    In Greensboro and surrounding areas, you can get them from Lowes foods. Check Entenmann’s website, they detail exactly which products they have where near you!

  4. I too am suffering from the Merita Sweet Sixteen Withdrawal Syndrome. The hostess brand is an awful substitute. I have found that Walmart and some other stores sell “Tastycake” mini donuts that are almost as good. Very close. But I want the old Merita Sweet Sixteens back. Why were they discontinued???

  5. As of 2014 the following site says Hostess Sweet 16 donuts are shipped from the Merita factory. I just bought bags of the Hostess Sweet 16 chocolate, and double chocolate with chocolate batter at Walmart (early 2018) — my verdict is that they taste better than regular Hostess but not as good as old Merita which had that real bakery aroma when you opened the bag. See http://www.specialistauctions.net/hostess-sweet-sixteen-donuts-12-pack-case,name,1484856,auction_id,auction_details

  6. So happy to find this site.
    I’ve been trying every powdered donut out there with NO SATISFACTION. Then I recalled Meritta was the brand that pleased me. I’ve given up on ANY other brand. Wouldn’t you think if Hostess or Meritta saw these post they would correct things?
    BY THE WAY, IF you can get them FRESH, Dunkin Donut has a good powdered donut.

  7. The internet really does bring people together over some strange things. But shout out to Merita for supplying all of the bread products in my childhood. From the Old Fashioned Loaves to the late sweet sixteen.

  8. I agree they have a different taste and they are not as soft as they used to be. I just recently purchased a package and they were OK at first. But still within the freshness date, they now have a funny taste to them and the freshness is gone.
    I will try another brand.
    I do not understand,” if it not broke, please do not fix it”.

  9. Merit sweet sixteen doughnut reminds me of my childhood.. I really wish they wld go bac 2 merita.. no disrespect 2 happy hostess.. little Debbie has a pretty good doughnut. . Still no comparison 2 merita.. bring back merita plzzzzzz…

  10. LIke everyone else, Merita had the best ever powdered donuts. Never found out until I Googled my inquiry as to why they disappeared. Recently came across a brand that is as close to the Merita brand. They’re called Babycakes, manufactured by Lone Star Consoli dated Foods, Inc. Dallas, Texas. They come in a clear tub weighing 36oz. They can last between 2 to 3 days. With the true Merita ss gone I’m certain that these are as close to the REAL THING. We find them occasionally at Sam’s Wholesale.

  11. I HATE those donuts. BRING BACK THE MERITA SWEET 16 – I have been asking about this for a LONG TIME!!!! Those Hostess donuts have a foul aftertaste. . . yuck. I wont purchase another bag.

  12. Just like they ruined ” COLONIAL IS GOOD BREAD” not so long ago. By the way , Merita Bread was NEVER as good as Colonial…….

  13. Luv luv luv Merita Sweet 16–grew up on them!
    Not only is the name gone but Hostess has definitely changed the recipe.
    Taste is just NOT the same. What a shame too.

  14. We used to go to the Merita bakery outlet once a week for bakery items. Our mom let us get a couple bags of Merita Sweet 16 Donuts. I’ll never forget the 70’s looking pics on the bag. Classic packaging. Classic, perfect taste.

    Hostess is garbage. Tastykake is the closest I’ve found to Sweet 16 and I’ve noticed this Yankee brand is invading the south.

    My “favorite” part about Tastykake donuts is the note on the very bottom of the side containing the nutrition information that states “Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering.” Yeah, you can keep that crap.

  15. Sorry Ray, you’re right about the bankruptcy but WRONG so wrong about the recipe. Anyone that’s ever had the originals can immediately tell the difference. For me the biggest tip off was the fact that the Hostess powder turns into slime when you touch it. Not a great attribute for powdered donuts. I’m guessing they substituted a cheap artificial sweetener for the sugar or something. Would also explain the horrible hairspray like chemical aftertaste. I would be amazed if a single step of the recipe remained the same. I’m holding out hope that someone from the original factory scribbled the recipe down or copied a file so worst case, fans could attempt to make them at home since Hostess is obviously doesn’t have the recipe.

  16. Same recipe as before just a name change as they went through bankruptcy and then bankruptcy again in 2012 led to the brands being sold off to different owners but the original is now owned by hostess brands and sold as donettes instead of sweet sixteen

  17. Just saw a commercial for some powdered donuts and my first thought was those delicious yellow cake, powdered covered donuts. I grew up eating those sweet 16’s and wondered if they were still around and stumbled on this article. OMG! Hostess! Really! I haven’t tried that brand, but I bet they do not taste the same as when they were under Merita. In most cases when the brand changes, so does the recipe or it get tweaked. Does anyone know why the brand change?? Somethings just need to be left as they are, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

    1. Agree with you on the recipe changes. Very often, the “brand managers” get to tinkering with the recipe. When sales go bad, it is often blamed on anything else but the company’s management, and they will try to “Fix” things with new packages and recipes.

      I would assume they are different recipe…..but could be wrong. There was, as i recall, a sort of harmless metallic taste to them back in their heyday…i wonder if others remember it as well.


  19. My sister and I have enjoyed Merita sweet sixteen donuts for as long as I can remember. Since they were taken off the market we’ve tried every kind of little donuts out there and they are all YECH !!!!!!!!!! We’ve stopped trying. Just one more thing that “progress” has ruined for us.


  21. Hostess version is so gross. Any updates on the real merita brand coming back. Merita sweet 16 donuts were the best donuts I have ever had. I will never forget the excitement of seeing those classic bags in the kitchens of the homes I grew up in and in my hand as emptied them. I was hoping just my local grocery had stopped carrying them and was planning to drive to the next town to get some but am deeply saddened by what I have read here. This can’t be. ; (

  22. I loved my Sweet Sixteen doughnuts and the Hostess version is just not the same. The closest thing to them right now is the Krispy kreme version of powdered. They were very yummy.

  23. Please god bring back the true sweet 16

  24. Please god, bring back sweet taste of the true sweet 16. I look everywhere for them and now I find out they are replaced with the same crap I pass up looking for the the real deal. I grew up with those and now have a lump in my throat thinking that I will never know the taste of pure joy ever again

  25. Just tried the Tastykake donuts. Not even close. They taste like the chemically, plastic packaged 6-counts wannabe’s from a convenience store. Please let somebody buy the Merita name (and Hostess, if we must) out of bankruptcy. Sweet Sixteens have been the only thing I eat when sick for about 3 decades. I need them!

  26. The Bluebird ones are pretty good but Tastykake brand are better to me. They’re the closest to Sweet Sixteen that I can find!

  27. Will someone start making these again now that the union has killed Hostess?

  28. I want Merita back… the taste was so much better

  29. The reason for the name change was so that hostess could sell the Merita Name. Flowers is the frontrunner and if they do purchase look for this brand to be back flooding the market. After all , everyone knows how well they sell.

  30. We lost rhe Merita brand in Tennessee too. Very sad.

  31. Look what they did to Dolly Madison. The best snack cakes on the planet and they do away with it. Not to mention all the feel good memories of Charlie Brown they sponsered.

  32. These donuts are awful. Glad I’m not the only one who noticed. I will not buy these anymore!

  33. im glad everybody on this blog is as outragged as I am hostess shit , i grow up on merita , then one day it was gone , no white bag with dancing people, no orange with oval with white lettering, no charm, no nostalgia, just this abomination they call hostess sweet sixteen, they better be playing a fucking joke like coke and bring the old thing back

  34. We Been Buying the Sweet Sixteen donuts(Hostess) and they have been Nasty and Melted the Powdered and Choc. and My Kids eat them but the last 3times they have not eat them bc of this and it makes me ever upset bc Sweet Sixteen use to be my favorite while i was pregnant 2yrs ago I could eat a whole bag by myself but i can’t even eat 1 right now:( Im upset and something needs to happen….

  35. I grew up in Florida and now live in Maine. I grew up with Sweet Sixteen donuts and love them. Everytime I go back home to visit, my family buys a couple of bags of them. On my recent trip last week, we got bags of the donuts but I noticed they weren’y Merita anymore. The hostess brand of the sweet sixteen taste great to me, but here in Maine the hostess brand is way different and they don’t sell the Sweet Sixteen’s here. I want to buy them online but don’t know how?

  36. I am little behind the rest of you, but just as annoyed. I recongized the Sweet Sixteen logo, but couldnt fathom why it was on a Hostess brand bag…well until now. They just do not taste the same, and I will now be on the look out for the BlueBird brand here in Charleston,SC also.

  37. I knew right away that something had changed – I was a little suspicious of the package which looked different but I had not realized that original Sweet 16s were a Merita brand. My daughter said she thought I was crazy when I threw my partially eaten bite of the donut away and sat down at the computer to do some research. This is a REAL shame. I am so disappointed. I was hoping that these were just a competitor’s (like Entenmann’s)lame attempt to copy a legend. These new imitations are awful. Seconding Bunny’s blech. So glad there is still hope in the BlueBird version. Thanks Erik! We will be on a quest to find them.

  38. oh, here in chattanooga, too. bad. they are stale all the time. i love merita everything. why oh why merita???

  39. when i was a kid in florida i remember getting the sweet sixteen donuts all the time!! they were by far my favorite! but since i moved to montana back in 1998, i have had to eat other brands of donuts including in the last few years, the hostess brand of donuts. i DO NOT like the taste of these donuts AT ALL, and was longing to find out if you could get the sweet 16 donuts anywhere around here..apparently not. i am sorely disappointed in the taste and quality of the hostess brand donuts and wish that the merita sweet 16 donuts would come back again…you can never correct a PERFECT thing and the meritas were the perfect thing!


  40. I can’t believe that all of you remember Sweet Sixteen. I live in South Jersey now and no one seems to know what I’m talking about but I grew up on Long Island, NY.

    At my house we had 2 treats a week a box of Scooter Pies and a sack of Sweet Sixteens. I was so intrigued at the packaging when I was a little girl I wanted to dance to those records and wear capri pants like the Barbiesque girl on the bag and just when I thought that was the greatest thing about them I looked in that cellophane window and saw those delicious donuts.

    The powdered sugar would stick to the roof of your mouth and your lips would look like white lipstick. What a great memory!

  41. I’m so disappointed that the best powdered sugar donut on the face of the earth is no longer available. I’m in my 40’s and have enjoyed these delicious little donuts as far back as I can remember. How excited my sister and I would be when my parents would bring home a bag of Sweet Sixteens! We didn’t have a lot in those days, and those soft, fluffy, light little donuts were such a special treat!

    With the ever-changing world we live in, a little continuity is nice — something you can count on from generation to generation. I feel like another little connection to childhood and family (and continuity of *my* universe) has been erased.

    :::sigh::: I know it’s just a donut, but, hey…I’m still mourning the loss of my beloved Chef Boyardee Sausage Pizza Kit, too (remember when the cheese pizza kit was in a yellow box; the pepperoni kit was in a green box; and the super delicious sausage kit was in a red box?).

    The first time I bought the Hostess SS donuts was about two months ago. I couldn’t find the familiar Merita packaging and happened to notice the new Hostess pkg. My heart sank right then and there, but I thought maybe it was the same product with only a new brand name. Okay, so maybe the first bag wasn’t fresh or something…so I tried a second bag recently. Blech. Booooooohissssssss!

    You know, if Hostess is going to use the SS name, they have an obligation to produce a product worthy thereof — it’s trickery to use the name, but not the recipe/process that made Merita Sweet Sixteen so beloved for all these years! Their version of Sweet Sixteen is far inferior. Has that “off” taste that all the other packaged donuts (EXCEPT for Merita Sweet Sixteen) have always had. Heavier, cakier, with a flavor that screams, “I’m a packaged cake product…what did you expect?”

    Hey, Erik, thanks for the tip about the Bluebird brand — I’ve seen it here in NC but haven’t ever tried it. Thanks to you, I will, though! 🙂

  42. Look at the package again. Now Sweet “Sixteen” only has 15 donuts in it. Also, with the serving size of 3 and “about 6” servings per bag, there should be 18 donuts per bag. Hostess needs to decide what it is really selling! Be truthful. . . I don’t like the deception.

  43. OMG this is so cool i never knew there was a brand with my name on it :DD but now it’s gone…great.

  44. OMG i didn’t know there was a brand nammed Merita, that’s soo cool! Obviously (if u looked at the name box thing) my name is Merita :DD i wanna buy these donuts now…whereever they sell them lol

  45. While it’s somewhat comforting to see I wasn’t alone in my dismay and disappointment, it was troubling to find the confirmation here that my Merita Sweet Sixteen have passed on.

    However …

    Just over the past few weeks the local Publix has begun to stock not only the Hostess but also “Blue Bird Bakeries Powdered donuts”. It’s a 10 oz. bag, red and blue, same size as the Merita and the donuts … ARE the MERITAS!!!

    They’re GREAT!

    We’re in Fort Myers and Publix so far is the only place I’ve found ’em. The convenience stores and Sweetbay have all switched to Hostess. But you can pick-up two bags of the Blue Bird/Merita-esque for $3.00!

    Hopefully that price isn’t indicative of a push to clear out stock. The web-address on the bag is http://www.bluebirdcake.com, which simply redirects to Flowers Food, but their brand page shows “Blue Bird” with a “coming soon” site.

    Find ’em, they’re great!

  46. When I was in college in Texas in 1986, I recall a female friend supplied some Sweet Sixteen donuts for a party, and she remarked that one of the coolest things about them was that packaging which had these cool 1960s-era images of sock-hop kids listening to records and such. Well, to our horror, just a year or two later, the folks at Merita decided to update the package. Did they choose New Wave people, as might have been appropriate for the mid-1980s? No, they suddenly evicted the clip art of Eisenhower/Kennedy era fun-lovers for a bunch of cheesed-up groovers from the Carter administration. Giant mop heads and bell-bottoms replaced page-boy hairdos and neat pants and skirts. I had been under the mistaken impression that Merita really liked the Eisenhower/Kennedy era fashions. Now, I realized, the company marketing department simply was run by folks who were 20 years behind the times. It was so disheartening that I just can’t weep now about anything that followed– including the switch to no images.

  47. I was also really bothered by this. I know it’s stupid on my part but the change in packaging actually caused me to pass them up quite a few times, just because I was looking for the Merita label. I always just saw “Hostess” and figured ok, nobody’s selling Sweet 16’s anymore. Turns out they’re under the Hostess name now, of which I’m already not real crazy about, and they also have that new Hostess taste.. again, not crazy about it. Merita Sweet 16’s have been a staple of my Sunday morning routine ever since I can remember… my dad going to the IGA and bringing a bag back before church, sometimes taking me with him as long as he could trust me not to eat half the bag before we got back home.
    Unfortunately all good things must come to an end it seems.

  48. I agree, and hadn’t noticed it at first. But they did stick together, and were larger. Hostess also sold doughnuts, but they were in a box, six at a time, as I recall.

  49. Florida is not the only state suffering from the loss of Merita Sweet Sixteen doughnuts. We noticed the change here in North Carolina a few months ago. The worst part about the change is not the name, but the taste. The new doughnuts have a distinctively different taste and they have lost my business

    1. I’ve tried the Little Debbie “Sweet Sixteen” style donuts and they are good. Are they as good as our Sweet Sixteen donuts were no but they are definitely better than the Hostess version.

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