Twinkies are easily one of the most iconic snacks ever made. You might think you already know everything there is about this classic little cake, but there’s always something new to learn. And since knowledge is power, here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Twinkies.
10. A Strawberry Shortage Gave Life To Twinkies
It’s hard to imagine how the tasty, creamy Twinkies we all know and love today were once even tastier and creamier, but, back when Hostess was first starting out, they were, apparently, even more divine. Before the original Twinkies name was coined, the little cakes had a different one: Little Shortcake Fingers. They were strawberry-filled shortcakes, made during the six weeks of strawberry season. As delicious as they were, since the strawberry season is rather short and they wanted to stay true to the flavor by using only real strawberries, the company had a lot of expensive equipment dedicated to this specific fruit. It wasn’t good business. So, they decided to change the strawberry filing for a banana cream filling – which was also made from real bananas – and it was an immediate success. It put the company on the map, and sales really took off. But, since all good things must come to an end, due to the rationing of bananas during World War II, they needed to think of a new filling idea. Cue the vanilla cream filling we now enjoy today. So while now we can no longer enjoy any “real fruit” in our Twinkies, we can all agree that they are still delicious, no matter what. Sure, we’ll never get to live the original Twinkie experience, but hey, we’ll take whatever kind of Twinkie we can get.
9. Twinkies And Science
Any excuse is a good one when you don’t feel like studying. You’re too tired, or too busy, or more often than not, just plain hungry. Well, two college students majoring in science took the latter and gave it a whole new meaning. Chris Gouge and Todd Stadler of Houston’s Rice University made Twinkies the main subject in the creation of their T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S project, or Test With Inorganic Noxious Kakes In Extreme Situations. It sounds like a very serious name to give to a Twinkie test, and it was serious business, indeed. The two would conduct scientific tests with Twinkies, like the Rapid Oxidation Test – to see what happens when set on fire. Apparently, you can’t just burn a Twinkie. No, you need to douse it with rubbing alcohol beforehand to see it char and ooze. They also dropped Twinkies from their dorm room windows in a Gravitational Response Test to conclude that they were, in fact, “affected by gravity.” They even went as far as to test the Twinkies’ intelligence with the Turing Test. Ridiculous? Maybe. Fun as heck? Definitely. Pulling off a study session has never sounded so good. So next time you find yourself procrastinating, instead of just sitting around feeling guilty, why not come up with your own Twinkie project? Just make sure not to eat the test subject and maybe have a few others on hand in case of a snack emergency.
8. A Diet Of Twinkies Is A Thing
Who as a kid hasn’t dreamed of eating only Twinkies for every meal? And who as an adult hasn’t dreamed of doing the exact same thing – but without gaining all those extra pounds? Well, apparently, it is very doable but not so viable. Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, decided to conduct an experiment to prove that weight loss is purely about calorie counting and not about the actual nutritional value of the food. So for 10 weeks, he ate nothing but a stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks every three hours to replace his meals, eating less than 1,800 calories a day. At the end of his experiment, he had lost over 27 pounds, and his mass index went from overweight to normal. Soley by eating the good old Twinkies – along with other junk food snacks, you know, to mix things up a bit. So is there a downside? Yes. You might lose weight, but there aren’t exactly a lot of nutrients in Twinkies. So as much as a diet of Twinkies sounds like a childhood dream come true, it might not be the way to go. It also just so happens that Mark Haub was paid by Coca-Cola to promote this “calorie-based” diet following growing criticisms about the studies transparency. Perhaps you should stick to your one Twinkie a day. One won’t hurt you but eating 10 might.
7. Vegetarians, Beware!
These days, vegetarians have a lot more options to choose from. Over are the days where the only thing they could eat was hummus and veggies. Today, a lot of food is made with vegetarian options. But there’s still one thing vegetarians cannot eat. One thing that they probably wish they could; Twinkies. Now, you might wonder why Twinkies aren’t vegetarian. It’s a cake with a vanilla filling; there’s no meat in that. And you would almost be right. You see, what most people aren’t aware of, is that in Twinkies, there is this thing called tallow – an almost-tasteless type of shortening – and oh, tallow is also known as beef fat. Tallow is often used in many prepackaged foods as a preserver and was also used for cooking McDonald’s iconic fries before they switched to vegetable oil in the 1990s. And that’s not only an issue for vegetarians; what about all the other people who didn’t know they were eating beef fat? That’s not exactly what you expect to find in a snack cake. Sure, Twinkies never promised to be healthy, but it should go without saying that we shouldn’t expect any traces of meat in it. But, oh well, there is, and people still eat them. You liked it when you didn’t know, so what’s the difference now? But perhaps, for some vegetarian Twinkie-lovers, ignorance is bliss.
6. The Twinkie Defense
It’s always easy to put the blame on someone else when we do something wrong. Oh, the dog ate my homework, or I didn’t see your text my phone was dead. Taking responsibility is a very hard thing to do, and back in the 1970s, Twinkies were the ones blamed in a very serious court case. The media was covering the Dan White trial, a very high-profile case of a man who was responsible for the death of politician Harvey Milk. The defense made its case saying that White was suffering from depression caused by the high intake of junk food he was eating – including a large amount of Twinkies. What the media reported was that White went on a murderous rampage in a sugar-induced mania that was greatly intensified by Twinkies – which was not the case. The actual defense in the case was that White suffered from “diminished capacity” not “Twinkie Frenzy.” The so-called “Twinkie Defense” has been a myth for years now, and some people still truly believe that Twinkies can be responsible for mental instability. Rest assured, they are not and can certainly not be used to justify any sort of crime. The only thing they’re guilty of is being ridiculously delicious.
5. Some Pretty Sticky Ingredients
Like we’ve mentioned before, Twinkies never claimed to be advocates for health gurus. It is a snack cake, after all, so you already kind of know what you sign up for when you want to indulge in one. You expect to find some junk in the ingredients list. But what you certainly don’t expect is to find ingredients common in stuff you can’t eat. Like glue, for instance. In total, there are only about 6 ingredients that are recognizable: egg, milk, flour, water, sugar, and salt. The rest? Well, you’re in for a treat. A research project created to find out where all 39 ingredients of Twinkies came from revealed a bunch of questionable elements. Apparently, Twinkies contain calcium sulfate, a material used in construction to make walls. Yummy. They also contain cellulose gum – used to make rocket fuel but, in this case, used to make the filling smooth and creamy. There is sodium stearate – a major constituent of soap and often used in cosmetic formulations, and last but not least, some corn dextrin, which is something found in glue. So, if you’ve ever had a Twinkie, you can technically say that you’ve eaten glue before – sort of. Corn dextrin can be found on the sticky part of an envelope. Despite all of these questionable ingredients, people still find it in their hearts to buy Twinkies. And who can blame them, really? They do taste insanely addictive. Maybe now we know why.
4. A Great Snack For The Great Depression
Twinkies have been around forever and have always been there whenever we feel a little blue – except for that 6-month period when they disappeared, but we try not to talk about that. The Twinkies were first created in the late 1930s and became an instant hit. They actually became the first big hit for Hostess and were responsible for putting the company on the map. The Great Depression hit America only a couple of years prior. Money was tight, and food was rationed. The solution? Twinkies. They were affordable – only about 5 cents for two – and were extremely comforting. A little cake filled with vanilla cream, what’s not to love. As many brands and companies disappeared following this economic bust, Twinkies persevered and stuck around, and have continued to thrive ever since. However, they were briefly discontinued in 2012, after the company declared bankruptcy, but thankfully for us, that was very short-lived. After only a 6 month absence, the little cakes were back on the shelves, and it was like nothing had happened. Twinkies were also part of another historical event: the fear of nuclear attack in the 1960s. During that stressful time, a lot of bomb shelters were built and needed to be filled with sustainable food. Twinkies were the snack of choice since they had the ability to “stay fresh forever” and were believed to have no shelf-live – which is obviously not true, but pretty darn close. Next time there’s a crisis, Twinkies are the way to go!
3. Named After A Shoe
Do you ever feel like inspiration just comes out of nowhere sometimes? Like you’ll be staring out your window and see the most insignificant thing, and it just hits you? Well, that’s exactly how it happened for James Dewar, the man who invented Twinkies. Once he had the product all figured out, he still needed to find a name for it. What should he call these soon-to-be sensational spongy treats? As he was on his way to a marketing meeting, he saw what would later define the whole snack’s history: an advertisement billboard for “Twinkle Toe Shoes.” Dewar decided to shorten it to “Twinkie,” and the rest is history. What Dewar probably didn’t realize when he came up with the name was how popular and iconic it would become. So iconic, in fact, the company now has to produce over 1 million Twinkies a day to satisfy the demand, which is roughly about 400 million Twinkies a year. Twinkies have also made their way into American Pop culture and have become a permanent part of our movie and television history. The name “Twinkies” is known everywhere by everyone and is probably one of the most well-known snack cakes out there. We don’t know if the shoes that inspired the name also resembled the little spongy treat – or it was just because the name was catchy – but our lives just wouldn’t be the same without Twinkies in it!
2. A Whopping Eating Contest Record
You have all probably heard about eating contests – it’s a real and very serious thing. The most common one would have to be hot dogs, but there’s another one that people might not suspect actually exist: the Twinkies eating contest. While it may not be as widespread as hot dog contests, Tunica, Mississipi took the matter into its own hands and hosted the first-ever World Twinkie Eating Championship At Bally’s Casino in 2013. This event marked the debut for the iconic cream-filled pastry in an official, sanctioned competition. The record was set by the world’s #1-ranked eater, Joey Chestnut, also known as “Jaws.” And he set the bar very high with a whopping 121 Twinkies in 6 minutes! Now, that’s gotta give you one heck of a sugar rush! That rounds up to an average of 20 Twinkies per minute. The last record was set by Takeru Kobayashi the year before when he ate 14 Twinkies in one minute. But, Joey Chesnut was faster and still owns the title to this day. His method was to eat them two at a time, and it has earned him a cash prize of $5,000! Second place was not too far behind as Matt Stonie only ate 10 less than Chestnut. The real winner, though? Twinkie history.
1. The Twinkie Cookbook
When you think about Twinkies, you probably only think about the little packaged cake you would get in your lunchbox as a kid, and it probably stops there. There doesn’t seem to be that much room for innovation with Twinkies, and yet, in 2015, Hostess blew us away with their release of an actual Twinkie Cookbook. It seems a little out there at first – because really, how many ways can you really eat a Twinkie – but surprisingly, the book gave a lot of innovative and clever ideas to mix things up in the baking game. Released to celebrate their 85th anniversary, the cookbook is part history lesson along with truly yummy recipes. Obviously, there were some recipes for deep-frying Twinkies – one of the most American way to eat stuff – but also for a lot of other pastries, like carrot-Twinkie cake, shortcakes, and even Twinkie pancakes. But it’s not all on the sweet side; there are also some savory ideas like a Twinkie sandwich and a bacon-wrapped Twinkie. The cookbook has over 50 recipes, all Twinkie-related, so you’re bound to find one that suits your taste. Sure, some are pretty questionable and don’t really sound all that appetizing, but where would the fun be in a safe, boring cookbook? Get your hands on one to try as many as you dare!