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The Twinkie is Dead: Long Live the Twinkie

The Twinkie is Dead: Long Live the Twinkie

Last week, maybe it was due to a lack of notable obituaries online, but the rumored demise of the Twinkie, due to the chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by parent company Hostess, made all of the headlines. While this was hardly the first time Hostess has been subject to public financial woes, nor is the Twinkie the sole Hostess product (Wonder Bread, Sno Balls, Ding-Dongs, etc.) this bit of news, for many, was the symbolic death of the beloved snack cake – a generation mourns.

The Twinkie, a golden sponge cake with a “creamy filling,” has long been an icon of junk food and American industrial ingenuity. It is a guilty pleasure, a high caloric pacifier for whiny children, an example of everything that is good and bad about junk food, and a nutritionally worthless, but irresistibly decidedly tasty, snack.

The Twinkie got its humble start in the 1930s with a considerably different recipe, same form factor though. The pre-war Twinkies were made with banana cream filling, not vanilla (to be clear, the Twinkie does not contain a cream center but some hydrogenated concoction). But in World War II, there was a banana shortage, and vanilla became the standard flavor. A single Twinkie has 150 – 160 calories (depending on who you ask), which by itself isn’t that bad as far as snacks go. However, it contains 4.5 grams of fat, including 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 19 grams of sugars and no dietary fiber to speak of. Eight out of the 39 ingredients that comprise the Twinkie are derived from corn, including corn starch, glucose, fructose, and the beloved high fructose corn syrup.

Still the Twinkie, as I said before, is an icon and remains as famous for its enduring appeal (although some of that has obviously waned a bit in the past year) as it is for its rumored enduring shelf life. Much has been made about Twinkies holding the ability to be shelf stable indefinitely, and some say to have the ability to survive a nuclear holocaust. But these claims seem highly exaggerated. While a Twinkie, because of its many stabilizers and emulsifiers, will not visibly break down over time, the company claims that a Twinkie has a definitive shelf life of 25 days. So stockpiling these beloved snacks is ill advised.

As I mentioned above, this is hardly the first time Hostess has had financial difficulties and put the fate of the Twinkie in peril (They filed for bankruptcy in 2004). Still, the threat to the future of the Twinkie sent the web-o-sphere into a lather, with everyone from NYT columnist Mark Bittman to NPR correspondents waxing nostalgic about the Twinkie-the-Kid, Hostess, and the embattled Twinkie, of course. Some going to creative extremes and employing visionary resourcefulness regarding what to do with the remainder of the Twinkie stockpile (see below):


While the Twinkie is not yet dead, its demise seems to be…on the horizon, at least. What are your sentiments on the matter? Good riddance? Don’t leave me this way?

Read more: Appetizers & Snacks, Blogs, Children, Desserts, Following Food, Food, , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

77 comments

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1:52PM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

they look yuck.

5:41PM PDT on Oct 8, 2012

Twinkies always got me sick, loved them as a kids, we only got them like three times a year, one twinkie bar each, but I stopped eating them when i was 10. I will still catch myself staring at them with longing, but I refuse to reach for them. I move on and leave them behind. I do not feel sad, but upset with myself for even wanting them.

5:07PM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

Good-bye old childhood friend.

2:46PM PST on Feb 18, 2012

Thanks for posting!

2:45PM PST on Feb 18, 2012

Thanks for posting!

2:45PM PST on Feb 18, 2012

Thanks for posting!

12:28PM PST on Feb 18, 2012

thank you for the post.

7:10PM PST on Feb 12, 2012

I've eaten maybe one sno ball in my life but don't remember ever eating a twinkie. I'm sure I have but I have no vivid memory of it. I've never eaten many junkfood snack cakes but when I did it was usually a Little Debbie. I couldn't care less about Twinkies not being available anymore.

3:22PM PST on Feb 4, 2012

All I know about Twinkies is they have an expiration date.

10:46AM PST on Feb 4, 2012

i always thought they were gross and way too sweet. Plus they are very unhealthy! Good that they are gone!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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