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The (Un)Welcome Return of the Twinkie

The (Un)Welcome Return of the Twinkie

This is what a Twinkie experience is like: after unwrapping the near-oblong shaped pastry, you hold in your hands something that is simultaneously light and airy, while feeling dense and substantial. The outer golden crust is yielding to the touch and has almost a sweaty and spongy quality to it. Upon biting into the pastry, you taste the cream-like filling with hints of vanilla and banana move through your mouth and mingle with the neutral yellow cake. A few bites later and it is just a memory, until you unwrap another. That is my somewhat vivid memory of a Twinkie and, it is safe to say, I haven’t eaten one since the 80s. I can remember the exact taste of a Twinkie, and yet I had a passion fruit last year that I couldn’t even begin to tell you what it tasted like, let alone looked like.

I bring all of this up to emphasize the indelible and seductive pleasures of well-executed junk food, and to let you know that, after a brief hiatus, the Twinkie is back from the dead.

A few years back Hostess (the company that manufactures Twinkies) went bankrupt and then stopped production on the iconic sweet treats. Never underestimate the appeal of the thing that is taken away, or the apparent romance of pop cultural junk food, because during the few months the Twinkie was gone, people were buying up old stock for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Now we are in the Twinkie 2.0 phase where they have returned with a fairly obvious market push.

So what is new with the Twinkie, you may ask? Well the new recipe is not yet in the public domain, but these 150-calorie snack cakes are now advertised to last, not 26 days, but 45 days in their packaging. I’m not sure if they tweaked the formula or just realized that these things don’t break down and have an inherently longer shelf life. Either way, this will fuel conspiracy theorists who attest that Twinkies neither degrade in nature nor are ever electively eaten by wildlife (both of these things have been disproven).

You could take a critical look at the Twinkie (as I would assume most of us will) and see it as the incarnation of all the evil the processed food industry foists upon us. One could see the laundry list of artificial ingredients and preservatives as a means to offload low standard government subsidized crops and products (corn, soy, etc) and turn them into profit. Nevertheless, as was stated in the Seriously Skewed Blog on the Huffington Post, “The main thing is that the Twinkie has shown remarkable resilience in the face of diabolical market forces and risen like a spongy phoenix from the doughy ashes of bankruptcy to return to its rightful place in our American lives.”

Is the Twinkie all that is evil and unholy in the world, or just a benign indulgence wrapped in warm and fuzzy nostalgia?

Related:
3 Vegan Twinkie Recipes to Get You Through the Twinkiepocalypse

Read more: Appetizers & Snacks, Blogs, Following Food, Food, Healthy Schools, , , ,

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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.

96 comments

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12:21AM PDT on Aug 25, 2013

Twinkies sure have a following, more than I would have thought. The creme filling was appealing to me, but I didn't care for the way they tasted. Thanks for the article.

7:12AM PDT on Aug 18, 2013

I can't wait until they bring back the apple pies and the suzy Q's LOVE THEM!!

9:51AM PDT on Jul 27, 2013

I could care less now that them and other cakes from Hostess are back on the shelves. My husband lost his job and has not found another. From what I have heard people are saying they are not as good as they used to be. So I guess when you bring in people who have no experience baking the cakes you only get what you pay for.

11:53AM PDT on Jul 26, 2013

I only ate them a couple times a year.

5:44AM PDT on Jul 23, 2013

I've had Twinkies before and enjoyed them.

12:27AM PDT on Jul 23, 2013

The thing I find scary about Twinkies is that they never seem to go bad...I suspect a twenty year old Twinkie looks just the same as one fresh off the assembly line today...and that just isn't natural. On the other hand, the problem with most things in life is that people consume way too much too often of things should be occasional treats. A twinkie once or twice a year is probably no big deal.

9:13PM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

no one is making anyone buy or eat them. if you dont approve, dont do it

11:46AM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

Twinkies were a memorable treat when I was young. I might have had 1 or 2 a year One was put in my kids' lunches on their birthdays. I can't understand the big brouhaha over this piece of nostalgia. It may enjoy a brief revival, but with all the fresh cupcakes readily available, the enthusiasm won't last. In fact , they say that the cupcake craze has waned.!

8:15AM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

I'm not a fan, never was. We HAD a factory in the next town and naturally all the workers lost their jobs, I feel so sorry for them. Some are still unemployed and not because they want to be, but because the job market here is slow, just like most of the country. :-(

7:59AM PDT on Jul 21, 2013

Everybody with IBS, Crohn's, inflammatory bowel disease, and etc., please raise your hands if this garbage causes intense flare-ups of your symptoms! It took me decades to weed out the causes of my own digestive upsets and it turns out to be nearly every denatured, denourished, artificially flavored, artificially colored and artificially manufactured ingredient within this type of so-called snack "food" and many other mass produced items. If it has bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, loads of preservatives and artificial anything, even if you don't experience digestive difficulties, be assured that if your diet contains a lot of this junk you're probably going to experience some sort of systemic inflammatory disease like arthritis, fibromyalgia, candidiasis, at some point or another in your life. Another point: everyone complains about Wall Street and Market Street but it's Madison Avenue that seduces you into consuming the most unhealthy items every day because you are so easily convinced that absolute crap is the yummiest thing in the world.

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