The ubiquitous Hostess cupcake, which turned 70 this week, owes its sweet success to 83-year-old D. R. (Doc) Rice, who four decades ago revived lagging sales of the devil's food cake confection by jazzing it up with a sugary "creme" filling and a squiggly white line of icing. Continental Baking Co. of St. Louis marked the occasion by throwing a party for the now-retired Rice and his sinfully rich idea. The redesign was intended to revive lagging sales after the end of World War II's chocolate and sugar rationing. Rice first tried a straight line of icing on the cupcake, but quickly changed to its trademark squiggle design because he felt it was more "upscale." (Trivia buffs, take note: There are exactly seven loops in each squiggle.) Rice also lent his culinary talents to the development of Twinkies, HoHo's, Snoballs and Ding Dongs. Last year, Americans consumed about 400 million Hostess cupcakes, or about 1.1 million per day.
--A Tufts University student has discovered what could be the oldest working telephone built by a rival of Alexander Graham Bell in 1877. Andrew Hyman, a 19-year-old sophomore archeology major, found in the university archives crated telephone equipment built by Amos Emerson Dolbear, who taught physics at the university outside Boston from 1875 to 1905. Bell introduced his phone at the 1876 U.S. Centennial and is remembered for uttering the first words over a telephone to his assistant: "Watson, come here, I need you." Dolbear sued Bell, claiming that the inventor stole his idea, but he could not get his phone to work in court and the U.S. Supreme Court did not buy his argument. "Dolbear's telephone squeaked but it did not talk," the court said in its ruling, according to Hyman. Hyman said Dolbear also maintained that he was the true inventor of the radio and sued Guglielmo Marconi for stealing that idea, claiming, "Well, I just didn't patent it."
--The Bushes' spring social calendar is filling up fast. First Lady Barbara Bush will fly to Kennebunkport, Me., next week to spruce up the presidential retreat in preparation for a visit by French President Francois Mitterrand on May 19. On June 1, President Bush and his wife will stop at Buckingham Palace in London for lunch with Queen Elizabeth II following a NATO summit in Brussels and stops in Rome and Bonn. Later in the month, former President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, will have lunch with the queen at the palace during Reagan's first overseas trip since he left office. Bush and Reagan also will meet with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. No word on plans for lunch.