Why did I stop eating Twinkies?

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Maybe I stopped eating Twinkies, but I never stopped feeling invested in the product or the company that created it. Even when I stopped buying, I continued to bake copies at home. If you’re interested in reminiscing or my not-so secret recipes, come on in!

 

Exactly three years ago, I guest-clacked for CliqueClack on how to make fried Twinkies. In August 2009, a friend and I attended a local state fair. We spent the entire day searching for that unique local fair delicacy, the fried Twinkie. Along the way, we encountered fried candy bars and deep fried onions, but we never found that magical unicorn, the deep fried Twinkie. Of course, with Hostess potentially going out of business, the deep fried Twinkie becomes even rarer. What happens to the county fairs that made an entire enterprise based on frying the American icon? More importantly, what will parents put in their kids’ lunchboxes along with a fruit juice box, bologna sandwich and a piece of fruit? Will kids have that grocery store elated feeling of picking out their own weekly dessert along with their weekly lunch meat? The possible disbanding of an American icon reminds me of my own Twinkies tradition, my slow growth away from the treat and the recipes I found to help recreate my beloved snacks.

Because my family lived near Hostess, Tastykakes and Entenmann’s bakery outlets, once a month my mother drove me to one of them to pick out my lunchtime school dessert. Although I really only liked yellow Twinkies (never chocolate), the yellowish orange Hostess cupcakes, the chocolate Hostess cupcakes, Ho-Hos, and ANY of the pies (although I hated the Sno-Ball’s coconut coating), I inexplicably found myself confused by the numerous choices before me. While I wandered the store searching for my monthly snack, my mother picked up loaves of wonder bread.

When I hit high school, during my freshman year, I happily switched to the newly-offered light Twinkies to watch my weight. Eventually, my mother stopped taking me to the Hostess outlet and I stopped requesting it. In elementary school when white bread became affiliated with white death, my mother started purchasing whole wheat bread. By my junior year in high school, Hostess’ presence in my family died away.

In college, I totally forgot about Hostess’ existence, switching over to the undergraduate student staple of ramen and pop tarts. I didn’t re-discover Hostess until my graduate student days. My friend’s attempt to find fried Twinkies, re-awakened my love of that childhood treat. At the time, I was a graduate community advisor who created programs for the kids of graduate students. So, I researched recipes on the web and experimented at home, before coming up with a safe, fun program for kids and their parents – how to make and fry Twinkies.

However, even then Twinkies didn’t find the love I expected. The graduate student assistant, who was supposed to shop for the graduate community assistants and create posters for their programs, refused to publicize my program, create posters for it and do the shopping. An avid vegan, she sent me myriad e-mails delineating the evils of Twinkies, until after weeks of her refusal to support Twinkie programs I finally appealed to the director. The assistant gave in, she shopped, and the program went off without a hitch. In case you’re wondering, people couldn’t tell the difference between homemade Twinkies and the actual Twinkies. My friend, the nutritionist, preferred the homemade Twinkies because they contained less oil. However, actual Twinkies fried better than homemade Twinkies.

You’d think after that intense battle for Twinkies, I’d return to Hostess as a full-fledged customer, 100%. I didn’t.

You’d think after that intense battle for Twinkies, I’d return to Hostess as a full-fledged customer, 100%. I didn’t. Not even when  I discovered Hostess’ incredible American history, while writing my Food Clack post. During the Great Depression Twinkies’ five cent two cakes remained affordable for those undergoing financial difficulties. In the 1940s war effort, when the Allies wove banana peels into mats to prevent German troops from landing along British shores, the National Board of Strategic Banana Reserves and Rationing’s requested the ceased production of banana flavored Twinkies, so they could use the supplies. In the 1960s, Twinkies became a favorite snake cake for bomb shelters. I even discovered Twinkies weren’t that fattening, in moderation. One Twinkie contained only 4.5 grams of fat and 150 calories.

So, why didn’t I return to the arms of Hostess? Price.

So, why didn’t I return to the arms of Hostess cupcakes during my graduate student re-awakening? Price, my friend. Pure and simple. I couldn’t afford the cost of one single snack cake, let alone an entire box. Plus, why buy them when I could make them?

This summer, before the Hostess crap hit the fan, I finally returned to Hostess’ loving, sugary folds. While driving back and forth between the local theatre and my apartment, I frequently stopped at a nearby store for a quick, energy-inducing snack. At first, I balked at the $2.50 price tag allotted to Hostess’ baked goods and went for the cheaper snack cakes. But, after weeks of eating dry-tasting baked flour, I finally gave in and bought a yellow Hostess cupcake. The flourescent yellow fondant covering, the moist oily cake and the delicious cream center were heaven in my mouth. Orgasmic even. I still keep the cupcake holder in my car as a reminder (also, because I hate cleaning up). And, with that, I was back. And, then, this happened.

I didn’t take the initial announcement seriously and didn’t buy a Twinkie pan when I should’ve. Norpro sells a $30 pan that makes canoe-shaped (OK, Twinkie-shaped) pastries. When I finally decided to purchase one, Amazon, Norpro, Kerekes bakery, the WestView Shop, and any place recommended by Google Shop had sold out. Considering Norpro made the canoe pan without fail in the past few years, I doubt they’ll stop now. All the same, I feel I missed out.

Hostess built a business dedicated to variations of the same snack: the cream-filled cupcake.

As we cross our fingers and hope a company will keep our beloved American icon afloat, we can keep Hostess brands alive in our kitchens by making our favorite snacks ourselves. After my obsession with cream-filled Twinkies (cream-filled vanilla cupcakes), I moved on to baking  chocolate Hostess-esque cupcakes (cream-filled chocolate cupcakes), and Hostess-esque Ho-Hos (cream-filled chocolate cupcakes dipped in chocolate). As you can tell, Hostess admirably built a business dedicated to variations of the same after school snack: a cupcake with a cream-filled center. Even though I can make them, I still find Hostess-produced cream-filled centers magical.

If you’re interested, read on for links and an overview to re-creating your favorite Hostess treats!

Photo Credit: Politico

4 Comments on “Why did I stop eating Twinkies?

  1. Your post today is the one best thing I’ve read about Hostess during their current trouble. You touch past, present and future and allow the reader to remember their own history with snack cakes. Thank you.

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    • Thanks, Otto! It’s definitely the passing of an era and a reminder that even the best-loved products need a helping hand …

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  2. Some of my oldest memories are of visiting the Hostess outlet in Chicago with my mom. I loved it because I would usually get a pie (the chocolate-filled one was my favorite). Now when I look at how many calories are in one of those pies, I just can’t bring myself to buy them anymore, although they are extremely tempting.

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    • Whenever I drove home I always passed a Hostess outlet and considered stopping to load up on products for old times sake. I never did (fearing fat and calories), but now I wish I stopped at least once …

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