Should We Feel Sorry for Twinkies?

Mourning miniature, 1788. Brooklyn Museum. 21.474. 

Twinkies. I’ve had a few. I’ve had more pink Snowballs and Suzy-Q’s than Twinkies. I was mildly horrified and fascinated to watch Anthony Bourdain eat embalmed fructose syrup used to make Twinkie filling out of the pipes of Zubal Books, a former Twinkie factory (watch the clip here). PS – I don’t advocate the storage of archival and library materials near a food source.

Now that Twinkies and Wonder Bread are gone, should we be sorry? In this era of resurgence for real food, slow food, artisanal food, should we artificially prop up that which is artificially made? Sure, a miniature apple tarte tatin at $6 each isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But ever tried a Big Mac after a 15 year dry spell? It doesn’t taste as good as you remember. Time to go to Shake Shack instead.

I do feel for the former workers of Hostess. Their loss is found in the convergence of poor financial management on the part of Hostess, a loss of interest in their main products, and an economic downturn. It’s not an enviable position to be in during these times.

But I can’t recommend that we eat more Twinkies. Everyone should recognize that to eat one Twinkie (let alone the two per pack) is out of line with a healthy diet. How many Twinkies does each American have to eat in order to sustain Hostess? And would that Twinkie lifeline diet justify the money the federal government would have to spend to counteract the poor effects of the fructose laden food on our health? As I was finishing this post on the evening of November 30, WNYC came on with a segment on the decline of interest in Twinkies due to healthier eating with Steve Ettlinger, author of Twinkie, Deconstructed. The guest did note an affection for Snowballs, so now I don’t quite feel so gross. He offers a Twinkie recipe in his book. They still aren’t good for you. But the ingredients are things that your great-grandmother would have recognized (thanks Michael Pollan’s Food Rules). It’s real food, if not quite true to the original.

RIP Twinkie.




About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.