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Whole and split Twinkies
TypeSnack cake
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateRiver Forest, Illinois (Chicago, Illinois)
Created byJames Dewar
Main ingredientsWheat flour, sugar, corn syrup, niacin, water, high fructose corn syrup, eggs, shortening, and others

A Twinkie is an American snack cake, described as "golden sponge cake with a creamy filling". It was formerly made and distributed by Hostess Brands. The brand is currently owned by Hostess Brands, Inc. (NASDAQTWNK), having been formerly owned by private equity firms Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropoulos and Company as the second incarnation of Hostess Brands. During bankruptcy proceedings, Twinkie production was suspended on November 21, 2012, and resumed after an absence of at least ten months from American store shelves, becoming available again nationwide on July 15, 2013.[1][2]

Saputo Incorporated's Vachon Inc., which owns the Canadian rights to the product and made them during their absence from the U.S. market,[3] produces Twinkies in Canada at a bakery in Montreal. Twinkies are also available in Mexican stores as "Submarinos" and "Twinkies" made by Marinela, and as "Tuinky" made by Wonder; both Marinela and Wonder are subsidiaries of Mexican bread company Grupo Bimbo.[4][5] In Egypt, Twinkies are produced under the company Edita. Twinkies are also available in the United Kingdom and Ireland under the Hostess brand name where they are sold in Sainsburys, Tesco, ASDA and B&M stores. Twinkies are produced and distributed by multiple commercial bakeries in China,[6] where Hostess does not own the brand.[7]


Box of Hostess Twinkies by Saputo Incorporated (in production)

Twinkies were invented in Schiller Park, Illinois[8] on April 6, 1930, by James Alexander Dewar, a baker for the Continental Baking Company.[9] Realizing that several machines used to make cream-filled strawberry shortcake sat idle when strawberries were out of season, Dewar conceived a snack cake filled with banana cream, which he dubbed the Twinkie.[10] Ritchy Koph said he came up with the name when he saw a billboard in St. Louis for "Twinkle Toe Shoes."[11] During World War II, bananas were rationed and the company was forced to switch to vanilla cream. This change proved popular, and banana-cream Twinkies were not widely re-introduced. The original flavor was occasionally found in limited time only promotions, but the company used vanilla cream for most Twinkies.[12] In 1988, Fruit and Cream Twinkies were introduced with a strawberry filling swirled into the cream. The product was soon dropped.[13] Vanilla's dominance over banana flavoring would be challenged in 2005, following a month-long promotion of the movie King Kong. Hostess saw its Twinkie sales rise 20 percent during the promotion, and in 2007 restored the banana-cream Twinkie to its snack lineup.[14]

Hostess bankruptcy[edit]

On January 11, 2012,[15] parent company Hostess filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[11] Twinkie sales for the year, as of December 25, 2011, were 36 million packages, down almost 20% from a year earlier.[11] Hostess said customers had migrated to healthier foods.[11] On November 16, 2012, Hostess officially announced that it "will be winding down operations and has filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking permission to close its business and sell its assets, including its iconic brands and facilities." Bakery operations were suspended at all plants.[16]

Box of Hostess Twinkies by Hostess Brands

On November 19, 2012, Hostess and the Bakers Union agreed to mediation, delaying the shutdown for two days. On November 21, 2012, U.S. bankruptcy judge Robert Drain approved Hostess' request to shut down, temporarily ending Twinkie production in the United States.[17]

Return of Twinkies to U.S. market[edit]

On March 18, 2013, it was reported that Twinkies would return to store shelves in May of that year. Twinkies, along with other famed Hostess Brands, were purchased out of bankruptcy by Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co for $410 million.[18][19] Twinkies returned to U.S. shelves on July 15, 2013.[20] Apollo subsequently sold Hostess for $2.3 billion.[21]

Before Hostess Brands filed for bankruptcy, Twinkies were reduced in size. They now contain 135 kilocalories (560 kJ) and have a mass of 38.5 grams, while the original Twinkies contained 150 kilocalories (630 kJ) and had a mass of 42.5 grams. The new Twinkies also have a longer shelf life of 45 days, which was also a change made before bankruptcy, compared to the 26 days of the original Twinkies.[22]

Cultural references[edit]

Television and film[edit]

  • In the 1979 Steve Martin comedy film The Jerk, Navon's mother cooks up Navon's favorite meal for his birthday: "tuna fish salad on white bread with mayonnaise, a Tab and a couple of Twinkies."[1]
  • In the film Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, the titular duo use a Twinkie to lure Genghis Khan into the time-travelling phone booth.[23]
  • The Twinkie became known worldwide in countries that did not sell the confection in 1984, due to a reference in the hit film Ghostbusters.[24] In the film, the character Egon Spengler describes a speculated level of psychokinetic energy and uses a regular-sized Twinkie to represent the normal level of such energy in New York City. He then says that based on a recent sample, the Twinkie representing New York would be over 35 feet (11 m) long and weigh approximately 600 pounds (270 kg), to which the character Winston Zeddemore replies, "That's a big Twinkie."[24]
  • In the 1988 blockbuster Die Hard, LAPD Sergeant Al Powell is seen buying Twinkies at a gas station, to which the attendant says "I thought you guys just ate donuts?". Powell replies, claiming that they are for his pregnant wife. It is later revealed to be his favourite snack, to the point that he is able to list all the ingredients to John McClane, claiming they are "Just about everything a growing boy needs!". He is also seen eating them in Die Hard 2.
  • In the film Ghost Rider 2, the antagonist of the movie (whose ability is to decay everything he touches) struggles to eat an apple because it rots until he grabs a Twinkie, which to his surprise, does not decay/expire.
  • In the film Hollow Man, Dr. Sebastian Caine says the following, when asked by a colleague how he solved the problem of creating a stable invisibility cell, "Oh, you know, coffee and Twinkies!" Later in the film, the invisible Dr. Caine is seen leisurely eating one whilst in bed.
  • In the film Zombieland, one of the protagonists, Tallahassee, has a craving for Twinkies and stops to acquire some from a crashed van, even with the threat of zombies roaming the countryside.
  • In the movie WALL-E, WALL-E gives his pet cockroach Twinkies, evidently still edible after humans have left Earth 700 years ago.
  • In the film Mortal Engines, Hester Shaw eats a Twinkie that is 1000 years old. She offers one to Tom Natsworthy, who questions it due to its extreme age. The Tw and s in the wrapper has been rubbed off and Hester refers to it as an "Inkie".
  • In the film Sausage Party, there was a homosexual Twinkie named Twink.
  • In the 2018 movie The Predator one of the protagonists, Traeger, explains Predators' behavior comparing the humanity to Twinkies straight after Hostess' bankruptcy: the extraterrestrial Predators allegedly want to obtain human DNA before the imminent end of humanity, the same way as people wanted to get Twinkies while they still lasted.

Twinkie defense[edit]

"Twinkie defense" is a derisive label for an improbable legal defense. It is not a recognized legal defense in jurisprudence, but a catch-all term coined by reporters during their coverage of the trial of defendant Dan White for the murders of San Francisco city Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. White's defense was that he suffered diminished capacity as a result of his depression. His change in diet from healthful food to Twinkies and other sugary foods was said to be a symptom of depression. Contrary to common belief, White's attorneys did not argue that the Twinkies were the cause of White's actions, but that their consumption was symptomatic of his underlying depression.[10]

Song lyrics[edit]

John Fogerty's 2004 album Deja Vu All Over Again includes the satirical, somewhat world-weary song "Nobody's Here Anymore", which ponders people's infatuation with modern technology and its ever more sophisticated consumer devices. "He got a stash of Twinkies up in his room" is a line lamenting the self-absorption and social isolation of the protagonist of the song's first verse. Twinkies are also one of the products mentioned in "Junk Food Junkie", a Top 40 1976 novelty song by Larry Groce. "Habits (Stay High)", a 2013 song by Swedish singer Tove Lo, mentions Twinkies in the line "I get home, I got the munchies / Binge on all my Twinkies / Throw up in the tub / Then I go to sleep."[25]In an interview, the singer confessed she had thought that "twinkie" was a synonym for "cookie" and that Hostess had sent her a sample of the product after the success of the song.[26]

Theological Twinkie[edit]

Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), used the expression "theological Twinkie" at the Church's General Conference in April 1998, in reference to teaching methods that may be pleasing or entertaining, but lack sufficient spiritual and doctrinal substance. In his words: "Are we really nurturing our youth and our new members in a way that will sustain them when the stresses of life appear? Or are we giving them a kind of theological Twinkie—spiritually empty calories?" [27]

Shelf life[edit]

A common urban legend claims that Twinkies have an infinite shelf life, and can last unspoiled for a relatively long time of ten, fifty, or one hundred years due to the chemicals used in their production.[28]A homage to the unlimited shelf life urban myth appears in the film WALL-E, where the title character's pet cockroach is shown eating its way into the cream filling at one end and emerging out the other none the worse for wear.[29]

The third episode of Family Guy's second season entitled "Da Boom" follows the Griffin family after a nuclear holocaust occurs, due to Y2K on New Year's Eve. The family then travels in search of food, and eventually decide to establish a town around a Twinkie factory.

Another homage to the Twinkie's shelf life myth was shown in the 2016 animated film Sausage Party, where a Twinkie is amongst the "Non-Perishable" foods.

The 2012 Super Bowl Chevy Silverado Apocalypse commercial also gives a nod to the Twinkie's reputed durability.[30]

In reality, Twinkies are on the shelf for a short time; a company executive told The New York Times in 2000 that the "Twinkie is on the shelf no more than 7 to 10 days."[31]The maximum shelf life was reported to have been 26 days, until the addition of stronger preservatives made beginning in 2012 increased it to 45 days.[32]The 2009 apocalypse horror-comedy Zombieland, which features a search for the last remaining Twinkies in a running gag, acknowledges this by having the character Tallahassee (played by Woody Harrelson) explain that Twinkies do, in fact, have an expiration date. In the second episode of The Umbrella Academy, the character called number 5 (played by Aidan Gallagher) states that the infinite shelf life is a lie.

Twinkie diet[edit]

In 2010, Kansas State University professor Mark Haub went on a "convenience store" diet consisting mainly[33] of Twinkies, Oreos, and Doritos in an attempt to demonstrate to his students "...that in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most, not the nutritional value of the food." He lost 27 pounds (12 kg) over a two-month period, returning his body mass index (BMI) to within normal range.[34][35]In addition to Twinkies, Haub ate Little Debbie snack cakes, cereals, cookies, brownies, Doritos, Oreos and other kinds of high calorie, low-nutrition foods that are usually found at convenience stores. However, despite calling it the "Twinkie diet", Haub also consumed a multivitamin, a protein shake and fresh vegetables along with the Twinkies, Oreos, and Doritos.[36] Some protein shakes contain 80 grams protein per serving,[37] almost equivalent to eating three 6-oz steaks per day.[38]Besides the protein shake and multivitamin, Haub also ate nutritionally dense whole milk, carrots, and vitamin fortified cereal.[39]This contradicts representations by other media outlets stating that Haub "only" ate junk food.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Parija Kavilanz (July 12, 2013). "'First batch' Twinkies go on sale at Walmart". CNN. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
  2. ^ Staff and wire reports (July 12, 2013). "Hostess Twinkies make an early return to Southland shelves". Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on July 15, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  3. ^ Marotte, Bertrand (November 16, 2012). "As Hostess winds up, who will bite on Twinkies?". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on November 16, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  4. ^ "". April 9, 2016. Archived from the original on April 9, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  5. ^ "Campaña de la semana: Dona Twinkies a un Americano". Archived from the original on June 8, 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  6. ^ "Twinkies China". Green Lounge. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  7. ^ "How Hostess Surrendered The Twinkies Brand In China". Seeking Alpha. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  8. ^ Staff and wire reports (August 21, 2014). "Hostess closing bakery that created the Twinkie". MSN Money. Archived from the original on August 23, 2014. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  9. ^ Biemer, John (April 30, 2006). "Homeowner Discovers That Mr. Twinkie Slept There". U-T San Diego. Retrieved June 5, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Belcher, Jerry (June 3, 1985). "Man Who Concocted the Twinkie Dies : James A. Dewar's Treat Is Part of America's Diet and Folklore". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 3, 2011. It was Dewar's inspiration to fill the cakes with a sugar-cream mixture, the formula for which is still a tightly held secret.
  11. ^ a b c d Ovide, Shira (September 2, 2011). "Great Moments in Twinkies History". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
  12. ^ "The History of the Hostess Twinkie". Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  13. ^ Continental Baking Company (1988). "Fruit and Cream Twinkies commercial". Continental Baking Company. Retrieved March 8, 2011.
  14. ^ Shepherd, Lauren (June 13, 2007). "Hostess selling banana-creme Twinkies". USA Today. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  15. ^ Knipp, Christopher. "City of Saginaw, Michigan; Notice of Chapter 11" (PDF). Hostess Brands, LLC. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
  16. ^ Erik_Halvorson, Blynn Austin. "Hostess Brands is closed; HOSTESS BRANDS TO WIND DOWN COMPANY AFTER BCTGM UNION STRIKE CRIPPLES OPERATIONS". Hostess Brands, LLC. Media_Division. Archived from the original on November 18, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2012.
  17. ^ "Twinkie maker Hostess to 'immediately' fire 15,000 workers as liquidation approved". Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  18. ^ Chris Isidore (March 13, 2013). "Twinkies due on shelves by summer as $410 million bid OK'd". CNNMoney.
  19. ^ Mark Lacter (March 12, 2013). "Hooray, Twinkies are coming back". LA Observed.
  20. ^ "Twinkies, Hostess snacks back in stores today". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on July 15, 2013. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  21. ^ Corkery, Michael (December 10, 2016). "How the Twinkie Made the Superrich Even Richer". The New York Times. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  22. ^ Choi, Candace (July 15, 2013). "New Twinkies weigh less, have fewer calories". USA Today. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
  23. ^ Ralph Smith (February 17, 2009), Want a Twinkie, retrieved May 31, 2019
  24. ^ a b Hays, Julia (February 26, 2016). "Celebrate the New Ghostbusters With Slime-Filled Twinkies". E! Online. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  25. ^ Pathak, Shirani M. (October 6, 2014). "Heart Break For The Self-Respecting Woman". Relationship Center of Silicon Valley. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  26. ^ Held, Joey. "Tove Lo on Coming Back from Surgery and the Stupidity of Censorship". Paste Magazine. Archived from the original on August 15, 2015. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
  27. ^ Holland, Jeffrey R. ""A Teacher Come from God" - Jeffrey R. Holland". Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  28. ^ "Forever Twinkies". Snopes – Urban Legends Reference Pages. May 19, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  29. ^ Walt Disney Productions/Pixar Animation Studios. WALL-E, 2008.
  30. ^ "Chevy Guys Live, Ford Guys Die in Silverado's Super Bowl Ad". Adweek -Creativity. February 3, 2012. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  31. ^ Kelley, Tina (March 23, 2000). "Twinkie Strike Afflicts Fans With Snack Famine". The New York Times. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  32. ^ Kim, Susanna (July 9, 2013). "What's New About the Twinkie and Other Hostess Brands Favorites". ABC News. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
  33. ^ "Nutrition prof's 'convenience store' diet shows calories count most when shedding pounds". MinnPost. November 12, 2010. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  34. ^ Park, Madison (November 8, 2010). "Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 pounds". CNN. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  35. ^ "Exclusive Interview with Prof. Mark Haub". Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  36. ^ "Healthy Diet of Twinkies? - Organic Authority". December 2, 2010. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  37. ^ "Do You Need Protein Powders? - WebMD". December 14, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  38. ^ "Calories in Premium Quality Usda Choice Beef Strip Steak". Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  39. ^ "Mark Haub junk food diet experiment". The Sydney Morning Herald. November 10, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  40. ^ "Professor aims to dispel diet myths with calorie-controlled junk food diet". Retrieved February 22, 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]