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The Twinkie
I had a Hostess Twinkie the other night. If reports are to be believed, it may have been one of the last Twinkies on Earth. It was not a guilty pleasure because there was precious little pleasure involved. There was some guilt, though; I ate the whole thing despite the fact that it tasted like crap.

Perhaps I felt obliged to eat it all simply as a tribute to this American food staple. The Twinkie has been around for over eighty years, happily providing us with our daily requirement of high fructose corn syrup. It had been decades since I’d had one, and the gummy texture and factory sweetness took me back to a gustatory era I’d sooner forget. Still, attention must be paid.

First, let us honor its creators for giving it a completely original name. “Twinkie” has since come to be used as a pejorative term for certain categories of people, but in 1930 it was a freshly coined word. It meant only one thing: a very specific version of cream-filled snack cake. Such words are rare in our general culture, and so it is in the small world of snack cakes. Ding Dongs, for instance, were the sound of a bell before Hostess made them. The same is true for Drake’s knock off version, the Ring Ding. Ho Hos were originally the sound of laughter, and so on. The Krimpet (also from Hostess) might earn a point for effort, but it is too obviously a bastardization of “crumpet” to be taken seriously. In fact, it must be docked a point simply for being a bad name for a snack cake. “Twinkie,” by contrast, seems the perfect light, unserious name for a product that just barely qualifies as food.

The Twinkie must be further honored for its packaging. Its box of 10 features a grinning cartoon Twinkie, clad in cowboy hat, kerchief, and boots, riding … a Twinkie! The realistic Twinkie/steed has been bitten into so that the cream (or cream-like substance) protrudes slightly from its sleeve of sponge cake, as if the pressure of the cartoon Twinkie’s legs on its sides has forced the filling out. I find this illustration troubling. I do take some comfort, however, from the fact that there are no spurs on the cowboy Twinkie’s boots.

Finally, before we bury the Twinkie once and for all, we should salute its status as a joke food. We have given the word “twinkie” its props for originality and appropriateness, but we cannot deny that it is also a very silly word. Perhaps because of its goofy name, it has become the stand-in representative for any food that has no redeeming food value. Furthermore, since it is widely agreed that the tube shape is indeed the funniest of all food configurations, then the Twinkie is right there with wieners, bananas, and veggie wraps in terms of loggish drollery.

So hats off to the Twinkie; cowboy hats, if you’ve got ‘em. It may turn out that some enterprising company, seeking to ride the recent wave of fame generated by the Twinkie’s demise, will buy the rights to its manufacture and thereby extend its very unnatural life. If that happens, we may not have seen the last Twinkie after all. I can say one thing with certainty, however: I have eaten my last one.

Please Note: Tim Eagan will read your comments but he is currently not publishing them.

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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
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