The Twinkie: A Memorial

Since it was announced last week that the Twinkie was going the way of the dinosaur, people all across the United States have put on sackcloth and ashes and set to the business of mourning.  I’ve not seen so much anxiety since it was announced that Lindsay Lohan had gotten her driver’s license back.

Granted, Twinkies are the king of all snack cakes.  Ho-Ho’s and Ding Dongs only wish they were as popular.  Bill Clinton, who has a well-documented passion for sweets, even included one in the Millennium Time Capsule.

But wait!  When we bow before the Twinkie throne, do we realize what we’re giving our devotion to?

Did you know that glucose, the form of sugar that adds bulk and sweetness to the Twinkie’s dough and filling, also adds glossiness to shoe leather and helps wet concrete set?

Did you know that only a small percentage of the 750 million pounds of cornstarch that’s manufactured annually goes into Twinkies?  Most of it is used to make paper, cardboard, and those little “packing peanuts” that are used in shipping.

Did you know that, when cooked, cotton cellulose is transformed into a soft goo that’s perfect for lending a slippery sensation to the filling in Twinkies…and rocket fuel?*

No, it’s not true that Twinkies are so full of chemicals that they will last 25 years.  It isn’t true (as a Doonesbury comic strip suggested) that Twinkies are only baked every February 1st.  And it isn’t true that Twinkies take seven years to digest.  But it is true that Twinkies are the quintessential junk food.  If you eat one, you won’t suddenly keel over, but you won’t be doing your body any favors, either.

It’s a hard lesson–one that some people never learn: you can’t judge the goodness of things by the pleasure they bring.  When Samson spotted a glob of honey in a lion’s carcass, he scooped up a handful and had a nice afternoon snack.  But he also rendered himself spiritually unclean and disappointed God by violating his Nazirite vow. (Numbers 6:6, Judges 14:8-9)

Many things are as harmful as they are attractive and tasty.  Perhaps today would be a good day for us to examine the sources of pleasure in our lives.  Twinkies may have one foot in the grave, but are there other “spiritual Twinkies” you like to munch on?

For further reflection read: Proverbs 21:17, Hebrews 11:24-26, 1 John 2:15-16

*Steve Ettlinger, Twinkie, Deconstructed (New York: Hudson Street Press, 2007) Back Cover

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6 Responses to The Twinkie: A Memorial

  1. Marg says:

    Twinkies are not one of my vices at all. Now Pasta – that is a whole new ballgame LOL
    It is time to re-evaluate my life again

  2. Rosan Germaine says:

    I love your insights on these matters. No twinkies for me, have not had one in almost 20 years.

  3. Barry Buchanan says:

    Thank you Mark for this. Every time I get one of the E-mails I really enjoy reading them and they so make since to me. After reading this one I will stay away from Twinkies from now on I really did not know how much chemicals go in to not just Twinkies but allot of the snack cakes.

  4. Dee Armes says:

    Okay. The Twinkie thing was a hard piece of news and blow to my less-than-stellar culinary menu. However, when I found out that the cole slaw I have been substituting for the waffle fries at Chick-Fil-a (because surely cabbage and cream is healthier than deep fried potatoes) was actually worse for me than the fries, I came to the conclusion that life is too short to not enjoy the occasional Twinkie or waffle fry.
    Please don’t research the health risks of waffle fries. My taste buds couldn’t handle the news. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  5. Joan Page says:

    Good job, written well and so true! Keep up the good work!

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