Sunday, February 25, 2007

Twinkie Madness

I was cleaning out my pantry the other day and found an ancient twinkie way in the back, behind the pasta and legumes. I have no idea how long the thing had been there. Frankly, I don't eat 'em. Anything with a shelf life as long as a twinkie has sorta scares me.

But my beloved has a fondness for the cream filled cakes - he especially likes them as the base for strawberry shortcake. So I'm guessing this was a left over from the last time we had fresh strawberries. Frankly, that has been quite a while.

I was ready to just pitch the nasty thing. My sweetie, however, insisted it was still perfectly good, even if a bit on the smashed side. Afterall, the package was still sealed. He thought it would be wasteful to throw away perfectly good junk food.

We got int a long, convoluted, interesting conversation about comfort food in general, and the sort of mental / emotional associations we have with different types of food.

Twinkies have been around since 1933 and were named after a shoe company. As a major sponsor of the Howdy Doody show in 1950, the spongy little snack cakes became quite popular just around the time my darlin' man was attending grade school and would occassionally get one in his packed lunch on those few rare occassions when he did not go home to eat.

During the 60's when there were huge fears of a nuclear attack, many bomb shelters were built. Twinkies were one of the most popular items to have because it was said that they "stay fresh forever".

Far be it from me to play food police, but honestly, I have a difficult time seeing someone I love eat a twinkie.

This opinion was more or less reinforced when I read the recent article about the ingredients of Twinkies on MSNBC....here's just one brief excerpt:
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To stay fresh on a grocery-store shelf, Twinkies can't contain anything that might spoil, like milk, cream or butter. Once you remove such real ingredients, something has to take their place—and cellulose gum, lecithin and sodium stearoyl lactylate are a good start. Add the fact that industrial quantities of batter have to pump easily through automated tubes into cake molds, and you begin to get the idea. Even so, it can be unsettling to learn just how closely the basic ingredients in processed foods resemble industrial materials. Corn dextrin, a common thickener, is also the glue on postage stamps and envelopes. Ferrous sulfate, the iron supplement in enriched flour and vitamin pills, is used as a disinfectant and weedkiller. Is this cause for concern? Ettlinger says no, though you wouldn't want a diet that consists solely of Twinkies. Ultimately, all food, natural and otherwise, is composed of chemical compounds—and normal ingredients like salt have industrial applications, too. Still, it gives you pause when he describes calcium sulfate, a dough conditioner, as "food-grade plaster of Paris."

3 comments:

Mimi said...

So, am I hearing this right - Twinkies are Lenten? That's a scary thought.

I also have to confess, liking one now and then.

Marie said...

I have heard all the reasons why I should shun the noble Twinkie, but it has no effect on my devotion. Like your husband, I believe there is no such thing as a too-old Twinkie. Older Twinkies are especially good frozen. I will defend my poor taste by noting that I am not at all a fan of other members of the Hostess family. HoHos -- yick. Same for Ding Dongs and Zingers.

There's a bunch of bored students at Rice Univ who perform cruel experiments on Twinkies and post them on a website. It's pretty funny: http://www.twinkiesproject.com

papa herman said...

I would like to try a Deep Fried Twinkies....

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