Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Twinkie is Forever

This is one of 804 articles in my book Now and Then Again, The Way We Were and the Way We AreThe book is available from Amazon for $16.95 and also as an ebook from itunesKobo, and Inktera for $9.99. Also from Tolino in Germany.It's fixed format so it's better on a tablet, laptop or computer. There are more articles from the book on another blog, here.

A Twinkie is Forever


Roger Bennatti, a science teacher in Blue Hill, Maine bought a two-pack of Twinkies around 1974, ate one, and put the other one above his blackboard.

In 2005 Bennatti said “It's starting to flake off just a tad. But it's sort of an off-yellow, dusty--the bottom, you know, appears to be a little, you know, perhaps moldy, but just a little bit of the bottom of it.” Mr. Bennatti retired but the twinkie lives on in a bespoke glass case provided by his successor


A Twinkie spokesman said that the official shelf-life of a Twinkie is 25 days.

You can find out what’s in a Twinkie, if you dare, by reading Twinkie, Deconstructed by Steve Ettinger. There are 37 ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, of course, a whole bunch of the usual suspects food chemicals, and a number of ingredients that are mined, like calcium sulfate, food grade plaster of Paris.

The Japanese hot dog eating champion (69 in 10 minutes) set the Guinness world record by downing 14 Twinkies in a minute in 2012.

As for the oldest Twinkie actually eaten:  “We nibbled our 16 year old Twinkies a teeny-tiny bit just to see what they tasted like.  Guess what?  They tasted exactly like a normal Twinkie. Very scary indeed.”

Mountain Dew was sued by someone claiming a dead mouse was found in a can of it. Pepsico’s lawyers said it couldn’t be because Mountain Dew would have dissolved the mouse into “a jelly-like substance” in the 15 months it sat on the shelf. This inspired the National Public Radio Science Desk to run an experiment in January, 2012 to see how long a Twinkie would last in Mountain Dew. After two hours the Twinkie was still intact.

Mountain Dew’s tag line is “it’ll tickle yore innards”. What Twinkies do to yore innards is the heart of the “Twinkie defense”, that a junk food sugar rush made you into a monster, a misinterpretation of the defense in a famous murder trial

In 1978, Dan White, a former San Francisco city supervisor shot and killed the mayor, George Moscone, and supervisor Harvey Milk.* White was a health food fanatic and his lawyers argued that his switch to junk food, along with other behavioral changes were one of the symptoms, not a cause, of his depression, and hence diminished capacity. White was convicted of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 7 years, 8 months.

Twinkies were mentioned only in passing during the trial, but reporters coined the term “Twinkie defense”, which then passed into urban legend.

Hostess, maker of Twinkies as well as Wonderbread, filed for bankruptcy a second time since 2004 in January, 2012 and went out of business in November after a bakers strike. Hostess said it had been making 500 million Twinkies a year. The last 20,000 Twinkies went to a Chicago supermarket in December, 2012.

But a Twinkie really is forever. Twinkies was sold in March, 2013 along with Dolly Madison Snack Cakes for $410 million and was resurrected July 15, 2013.

Twinkies have been around since 1930 (Wonderbread since 1921). 2011 sales of Twinkies were 36 million packages, down 2% from the year before.

*Harvey Milk was gay. After the lenient sentence was announced on May 21, 1979, the gay community rioted. Over 5000 people stormed city hall in the White Knight riots, causing considerable damage as well as injuries to police officers. White was paroled after 5 years and committed suicide in 1985.


Copyright © Joseph Mirsky 2015

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