Rest in peace, Twinkies!

Now that Hostess officially has stopped making Twinkies (and other assorted delicious delights), it is time to bid adieu to an old and dear friend.

While some may think that Twinkies were nothing more than a goofy name (“cream-filled sponge rods” never quite took off), baked around a lot of weird ingredients, Hostess enjoyed legions of middle-age fans who (once) loved their products. Devotees like me are donning black and mourning the passing of Twinkies like a beloved friend has passed away unexpectedly.

I was so desperate upon hearing the news that Hostess was shuttering their operations that I scoured the Internet for bootleg ones and paid nearly $60 for a box of 24 now “vintage” collectible Twinkies that until three months agowere rotting on a shelf in some Winn- Dixie in Arkansas.

I ran through the streets of Coral Gables with my hair on fire proclaiming: “They can’t stop making Twinkies! Twinkies are amazing! They are earth’s most perfect food!”

But, truth be told, I cannot actually recall the last time I ate a Twinkie (or a chocolate zinger or pink snowball). Can you? Even the ones I ordered on eBay are still in the bubble-wrap they were mailed in. Alas…my passing fancies.

For the record, health nuts, here is what goes into making a Twinkie: Enriched wheat flour, sugar, corn syrup, niacin, water, high fructose corn syrup, vegetable and/or animal shortening — containing one or more of partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed and canola oils, and beef fat — dextrose, whole eggs, modified corn starch, cellulose gum, whey, leavenings (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, mono calcium phosphate), salt, cornstarch, corn flour, corn syrup, solids, mono- and diglycerides, soy lecithin, polysorbate 60, dextrin, sodium stearol lactylate, wheat gluten, calcium sulfate, natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, yellow dye No. 5, red dye No. 40.

Sounds a bit like you might need to study for that final exam for your college freshmen chemistry class again. I have to admit I love some yellow dye No. 5 and wheat gluten. Who doesn’t? Total calories: 150 (for each Twinkie). Fat grams: 4.5. Sodium: 220 mg. Carbs: 27 g. Dietary fiber: 0 g. Protein: 1 g. Whew, there is protein in there…and wheat! Well, wheat gluten.

Twinkies were originally sold to the public as “Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling.” YES! You had me at creamy. No dairy here, just lots of creamy goodness in a goopy lather, designed to increase shelf life to 25 days (or months…or years). My mother never put Twinkies in my lunch box. No, she was not ahead of the curve on curbing childhood obesity; we just always buy the cheaper, knock-off brands in the Trowbridge household: Toastem’s instead of Pop Tarts; Hydrox in lieu of Oreos, and yes, Little Debbie’s instead of anything Hostess brand.

For you history buffs, Twinkies were dreamed up in 1930 during the Great Depression and created by an under-celebrated American genius, James Dewar. He was trying to figure out how to utilize the strawberry shortcake machines that sat idle in the plant when strawberries were out of season. Voila! Twinkies were born; they originally were filled with banana cream, but then switched to vanilla when WWII created a shortage. Wow, the story of the Twinkie runs parallel to American history and could be an inspiration for school children across the country in their lessons.

The slow decline of Twinkies is no doubt correlated to the plethora of fancy doughnut shops, super-store markets, and local bakeries selling pastelitos by the metric ton, as well as changing nutritional habits in kids. Ever since Choosy Moms chose Jif…well, the junk food world has never been the same. And, the Twinkies are just the latest casualty created by those who have hoisted themselves off the sofa and into the closest gym.

Alas, the swirling stories of the death of the Twinkie may indeed be premature. But, in the meantime, until a new investor or producer is found, we say a sad goodbye to a dear friend who brought us comfort and joy and never ceased to place a toothy smile on my face.

I can only assume it was the red dye No. 40.

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