A Fond Farewell to the Humble Twinkie

 

My cat Jasper loved Twinkies. Well…he sort of loved them. His favorite pastime was figuring out how to break into the box, wrestle out the individually wrapped twinkies, and bite at them through the plastic. At some point, my Mom had had enough. She took one out of the packaging and just gave it to Jasper. He took a few sniffs of the rounded pastry, looked at it quizzically, and went on his merry way. For Jasper, Twinkies were a chew toy, not a snack.

Maybe he was onto something. I shudder to think about the assorted sugary treats that I was shamelessly tantalized into buying as a kid. I consumed everything from Ghostbusters “Ectoplasm” Hi-C, to a dizzying assortment of candy-coated cereals, to fruit snacks that looked like my favorite cartoon characters and tasted like a cross between erasers and air fresheners. But Twinkies, if you’ll pardon the expression, took the cake.

They were a delicate concoction comprised of ground, sweetened couch cushions and expired toothpaste. Yet somehow they were mildly addictive. Those little yellow cake tubes had me under their spell when I was too young to realize that I was essentially eating a cylinder’s worth of Dow chemicals.

 

Tallahassee from Zombieland can relate.

 

Eventually, I grew a little older, started playing sports after school, and became a more worried about getting zits and making weight than about my sugar fix. Twinkies largely fell by the wayside. They were replaced with Powerbars and Gatorade and other “healthy” snacks. This new wave of sugary edibles was carefully pitched to the would-be discriminating teenager. They were squarely aimed at a nascent breed of consumer who responded to claims about “nutritiousness” that were as fantastic as the cartoon characters who used to catch their eye in the grocery store. Twinkies, unfortunately, were not sneaky enough to pass the test.

But Twinkies did have a brief but memorable resurgence for me. One day, I caught the tail end of a local news story about the Texas State Fair. As reliable as Big Tex and the Red River Shootout, there was a festival of avant-garde, artery-clogging, artistry better known as the yearly fried food competition. Da Vincis of doughnuts, Mozarts of mozzarella sticks, and Kafkas of cornydogs gathered from all around the world to create the the boldest and most creative fried treats the mind could imagine. This year, it was the humble Twinkie that was getting all of the attention.

I can’t explain why the idea of a fried twinkie intrigued me so. Somehow it had ceased to be a simple fluff piece on the local news and morphed into a mission. I enlisted my mother and her culinary prowess, and I picked up a box of the old familiar cream-filled sugar sponges from the store. We were in business.

The first attempt turned out a little too black. The second was a little too pale. But the third time was the charm. As my mother pulled a perfectly browned, melt in your mouth, caloric Frankenstein of a snack from the oil of its departed brethren, I knew we’d hit paydirt. I chowed down on the Twinkie appreciatively. This was an accomplishment worth celebrating.

But with that, my Twinkie itch had been scratched. I can safely say that my lips have not touched one of those mass-produced, nuclear-resistant snack cakes since that day when they emerged from their oily bath. I did not regret the exercise exactly, but it was a dietary dalliance that I, nigh-literally, no longer had the stomach for.

 

As usual, this idea is best captured by Zach Weiner of the tremendous webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

 

Despite that fact, it was with a twinge of sadness that I learned Hostess, the company that makes Twinkies, was going out of business. Now I’m sure Kraft or Nabisco or some other parent company will buy the recipe and tweak things to ensure that convenient store shelves remain stocked with that most venerable of chemically-enhanced confections. Yet when Kraft presents the New Twinkie™,  it just won’t be the same. It’s both sad and sweet to think that the fine folks at Hostess produced a set of snacks so durable, they’re likely to outlast even the company that made them.

So it is with a heavy and cholesterol-filled heart that I bid farewell to the noble Twinkie, an old friend whom I’ve long neglected. May your cake stay inexplicably spongy and buoyant no matter what temperature you’re stored at. May your cream be gooey yet firm no matter how much damage your packaging has suffered. May you be free from curious kittens biting through your protective plastic, only to disregard the sweetness inside. When the nuclear apocalypse has come, I expect your steady presence to give us all hope. Godspeed into the future, fair Twinkie. Godspeed.

 

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4 Responses to A Fond Farewell to the Humble Twinkie

  1. Mom says:

    I also remember the fried Twinkie experience fondly. As far as Jasper was concerned, I think for him it was the thrill of the chase. Once it was “dead” he was no longer interested.

    • Craig Potter says:

      First heard of Twinkies while watching Zombieland, as I’m from the UK I’ve never actually had the chance to sample one but they do look like they could stop a heart at 30 paces. Check out a thing called a “Deep-fried Mars Bar”, they are frighteningly moreish.

      • Andrew says:

        I had deep fried reese’s peanut butter cups at the North Carolina State Fair and that was about all the deep fried chocolate I could handle, heh.

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