America / Culture

A Paean to the Twinkie

Gone is the HoHo. Gone is the Ding Dong. Gone is the Snowball, the Suzy Q, the Ring Ding, the Donettes, the Wonder Bread, the Hostess Cupcake with its signature swirl.

And gone is the Twinkie.

That greatest of all childhood treats. An alluring, golden treasure tube filled with sickly sweet, vanilla fluff that bursts in your mouth and lingers on your tongue – conjuring up memories of after-school raids on the local convenient store and midway stops on those long, summer car trips when mom and dad would break their “no snack food” brocard to buy a few moments of peace.

Hostess is declaring bankruptcy, laying off its 18,500 person workforce and liquidating its assets. Unwilling to agree to a cut in wages, a few thousand unionized hostess employees went on strike and the strike, reportedly, cost the company between $7.5 million and $9.5 million – enough to push Hostess into bankruptcy. There were, undoubtedly, other factors in the company’s downfall – an unwillingness to lessen executive compensation, a decrease in American’s consumption of white bread and  a more competitive snack market in a seemingly cupcake-crazed America (though 500 million Twinkies are still sold worldwide each year). But one cannot help but wonder how those union leaders feel today having created the catalyst for this closure. Are the employees they represent better off baking at a hostess factory for less pay or standing in an unemployment line?

But let us not lay blame. Let us look to the future and commemorate the past.

The Twinkie is probably not dead, for good. Some enterprising corporation will buy the brand, and the recipe, and try to recreate that other-worldly textural sensation that came from biting into a Twinkie’s cakey goodness.

But it won’t be the same. The allure of the Twinkie lies in its nostalgia, a longing to return to ones childhood – a time of simpler tastes and simpler pleasures. In truth, the Twinkie is less food than American icon; It has a mythos that has grown far beyond its humble origins – there is the Twinkie Diet, the Twinkie Defense, and the urban legend that the Twinkie lasts forever. The Twinkie is one of America’s rivets – connecting the citizens of Minnesota and California and Tennessee and helping to create part of a common American experience.

Sure, those glorious yellow cylinders are terrible for you and have helped fatten up the children of this country, but we should take this moment to embrace the goodness that a Twinkie represents – the all-American snack cake, the embodiment of food equality and the freedom to eat what we want, where we want and how we want. If that means deep fried and dipped in chocolate sauce, so be it. Yesterday, I wrote about why and how the food industry in this country is being abraded by government intervention. Today, however, is not the day to ask those questions.

Today is the day to mourn the death of an American hero, the Twinkie. Rest In Peace, old friend.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s