Yes, it’s all over the news: Twinkies are 75 years old.
I’ll forgo the jokes about how the ones at the newsstand across the street from me are probably originals (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) or how there’s probably one in the basement of St. Emily’s that’s still good after I left it there in seventh grade (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA). I might as well launch into “What’s the deal with taxi drivers who don’t speak English? I mean, HEY!” (BADUMP-BUMP). Thank you, I’ll be here all week.
Now that I’ve got that out of my system, back to Twinkies.
My favorite childhood memory of Twinkies involves taking them out of the freezer and eating the cake around the nearly-frozen center, leaving the “tower of synthetic icing” for my enjoyment. (Freezing the Twinkie could also be accomplished by waiting at a cold bus stop for a while in the winter.)
In 1989, Spy magazine ran an article by Jane and Michael Stern called “Twinkie, Twinkie, Little Suet-Filled Spongecake Crisco Log, Now I Know Just What You Are.” The article gave an analysis of the Twinkie, discussed its natural and semi-natural properties, and gave the results of several New York pastry chef’s attempts at creating a “small yellow sponge cake with cream filling.” A portion of the Sterns’ article has been posted hundreds of times to the Internet (it’s on the next page): it’s a discussion of a series of scientific tests under which the Twinkie was put, and the results that were gathered.
In 1995, some students from Rice University decided to take these experiments, perform them themselves, and document their findings on a web site. The results can be found at the T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project Web Site, which, in a show of a sense of humor, is hosted by Interstate Brands, manufacturer of Twinkies.
When Becky was in third grade, her teacher made this one of the class’ science units. Who says kids aren’t getting a quality education these days?
More fun facts about Twinkies:

  • 500 million Twinkies are sold every year.
  • Chicago consumes more Twinkies per capita than any other U.S. city.
  • In 1999, President Clinton selected the Twinkie to be included in the Millennium Time Capsule, representing “an object of enduring American symbolism.”
  • Interstate Baking Corporation bakeries can produce 1000 Twinkies in a minute.

Now head down to the 7-11 and get a two-pack and celebrate today.

“Twinkie, Twinkie, Little Suet-Filled Sponge Cake Crisco log, Now I Know Just What You Are.”
by Jane and Michael Stern, Spy Magazine, July 1989

In an effort to clarify questions about the purported durability and unusual physical characteristics of Twinkies, we subjected the Hostess snack logs to the following experiments:
A Twinkie was left on a window ledge for four days, during which time an inch and a half of rain fell. Many flies were observed crawling across the Twinkie’s surface, but contrary to hypothesis, birds– even pigeons– avoided this potential source of sustenance.
Despite the rain and prolonged exposure to the sun, the Twinkie retained its original color and form. When removed, the Twinkie was found to be substantially dehydrated. Cracked open, it was observed to have taken on the consistency of industrial foam insulation; the filling, however, retained its advertised “creaminess.”
A Twinkie was placed in a conventional microwave oven, which was set for precisely 4 minutes — the approximate cooking time of bacon. After 20 seconds, the oven began to emit the Twinkie’s rich, characteristic aroma of artificial butter. After 1 minute, this aroma began to resemble the acrid smell of burning rubber. The experiment was aborted after 2 minutes, 10 seconds, when thick, foul smoke began billowing from the top of the oven. A second Twinkie was subjected to the same experiment; this Twinkie leaked molten white filling. When cooled, this now epoxylike filling bonded the Twinkie to its plate, defying gravity; it was removed only upon application of a butter knife.
A Twinkie was dropped from a ninth-floor window, a fall of approximately 120 feet. It landed right side up, then bounced onto its back. The expected “splatter” effect was not observed. Indeed, the only discernible damage to the Twinkie was a narrow fissure on its underside. Otherwise, the Twinkie remained structurally intact.
A Twinkie was placed in a conventional freezer for 24 hours. Upon removal, the Twinkie was not found to be frozen solid, but its physical properties had noticeably “slowed:” the filling was found to be the approximate consistency of acrylic paint, while exhibiting the mercurylike property of not adhering to practically any surface. It was noticed that the Twinkie had generously absorbed freezer odors.
A Twinkie was exposed to a gas flame for 2 minutes. While the Twinkie smoked and blackened and the filling in one of its “cream holes” boiled, the Twinkie did not catch fire. It did, however, produce the same “burning rubber” aroma noticed during the irradiation experiment.
A Twinkie was dropped into a large beaker filled with tap water.
The Twinkie floated momentarily, began to list and sink … viscous yelow tendrils ran off its lower half, possibly consisting of a water-soluable artifical coloring. After 2 hours, the Twinkie had bloated substantially. Its coloring was now a very pale tan, in contrast to the yellow, urine-like water that surrounded it. The Twinkie bobbed when touched, and had a gelatinous texture. After 72 hours, the Twinkie was found to have bloated to roughly 200 percent of its original size … the water had turned opaque, and a small, fan shaped spray of filling had leaked from one of the “cream holes.”
Unfortunately, efforts to remove the Twinkie for further analysis were abandoned when, under light pressure, the Twinkie disintegrated into an amorphous cloud of debris. A distinctly sour odor was noted.
The Twinkie’s survival of a 120-foot drop, along with some of the unusual phenomena associated with the “creamy filling” and artificial coloring, should give pause to those observers who would unequivocally categorize the Twinkie as “food.” Further clinical inquiry is required before any definite conclusions can be drawn.