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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Randi Kreiss
Will it be twilight for Twinkies in our time?

I jumped on eBay to bid on one of the last packs of Twinkies and found that the price is already up to $200,000. I may have to sell my house or host a telethon, because a world without Twinkies is a world without tender golden cakes filled with fructose, corn syrup, dextrose, cornstarch and polysorbate 60, red color 40 and yellow color 5. I am not brave enough to face that world.

The news hit last week that the Hostess Brand Bakery is going under, and sinking with it are the delicacies that sweetened our youth: Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes (with the white squiggles on top), Devil Dogs and Ho Ho’s. Oh my.

The company attributes its demise to union demands, while the union says the company is at fault, but the bottom line for those of us raised on the elegant fingers of semi-toxic ingredients is an irreparable loss.

I want other children to find the joy I did when I opened my lunch box and discovered the four-inch-long delights tucked inside, next to the bologna sandwich on Wonder Bread, carefully prepared by my mother, who clearly was trying to kill me.

Twinkies are an icon of the American culture, a dessert with no nutritional value at all, 160 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 2,000 milligrams of salt, 20 milligrams of cholesterol and 25 grams of carbohydrates. They contain absolutely no fiber.

To the touch, they feel soft and slightly squishy. Turn them over and discover the three mysterious puncture marks on the underside, pathways to the fluffy white cream pumped inside. Originally, Twinkies were just sponge cake fingers. Then the company decided to fill them with mashed banana. That was a big hit until World War II, when bananas were in short supply. The company would not quit, however, nor shrink from its mission. It invented the white filling, and the rest is cardiac history.

Twinkies are part of the American psyche. According to their website, one man in Indiana has eaten 21,500 of them in his lifetime and is still ambulatory. Also, you don’t need to eat your Twinkies straight up. There are Twinkie recipes, including Twinkie tropical lasagna, Twinkie tiramisu, Twinkie tacos and Twinkie sushi. Fried Twinkies are a relatively new, lethal twist.

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