Hostess was formed in 1935 when Edward Snyder began cooking chips on his mother's kitchen stove in Breslau, Ontario, outside Kitchener, Ontario. Potato chips remained a fairly small part of the snack food market until the 1950s, when snack foods in general became more widely available. In 1955, Snyder sold his company to E.W. Vanstone, who expanded the company greatly before selling his interest to General Foods in 1959.
Hostess grew to become the #1 brand through this period and into the 1980s. Its powerful distribution channels made competing on price difficult, and shelf space for competing products was difficult to find, notably in smaller stores such as gas stations. The brand also gained a strong reputation for quality at the expense of other brands. Its packaging was instantly recognisable, featuring simple graphics and colour schemes. For much of the brand's history, only three flavours were sold; Regular in a blue package, Salt and Vinegar in yellow, and BBQ in deep red. The power of the brand was such that competitors generally used the same colours on their packaging as well, creating a standard of sorts.
In the mid-1970s, Hostess decided to expand its lineup and introduced three new flavours, Orange, Cherry and Grape. The attempt was a dismal failure, and the products disappeared from stores only a few months later. The products were so poorly received they remain a topic of derision. Newer introductions followed, starting with the popular Sour Cream and Onion shortly after the fruit flavours disappeared. This was a huge success, and was followed by a series of other now-common flavours such as Dill Pickle and Ketchup. Another success was Hickory Sticks, a hickory-smoke-flavoured potato stick variety which broke the corporate branding by using a wood-grain patterning on their smaller bags.
Starting in 1981, the chips had new mascots known as the Munchies, that were used for advertisements and appeared on the chip packaging. The Munchies were three friendly, goblin-like creatures coloured red, orange, and yellow.