The Ding Dong is similar to other cream-filled cakes, such as Arcade Vachon's Jos. Louis introduced before 1934 and still in production. Hostess began marketing its Ding Dong in 1967. The name was given to coincide with a television ad campaign featuring a ringing bell. The company marketed the snacks on the East Coast as Big Wheels, to avoid confusion with the Ring Ding, a similar (and pre-existing) treat by Drake's Cakes. The names were consolidated in 1987, when a short-lived merger of Drake's with Hostess' parent company (then Continental Baking Company) briefly resolved the Ring Ding/Ding Dong conflict. When the merged company broke up, however, Hostess was forced to cease, once again, using the Ding Dongs name in areas where Ring Dings were available. The compromise sound-alike name King Dons lasted until Interstate Bakeries Corporation, which had recently merged with Hostess' parent company, bought Drake's in 1998. The Hostess product is now sold under the name Ding Dongs throughout the United States. However, the snack is still sold as the King Don in Canada.
Hostess created the "King Ding Dong" cartoon character to advertise the Ding Dong: an anthropomorphized Ding Dong sporting a crown and sceptre. He was similar to other Hostess characters Twinkie the Kid and Fruit Pie the Magician. Where King Dongs were marketed, the character, like the product, was known as King Dong. In areas that used the "Big Wheel" name, the character was an Indian chief named "Chief Big Wheel".
I'm pretty sure that after this post I am going to have to check out the bakery section of my local Safeway next visit to see if I can find a package of those tasty little treats to bring home with me.