Twinkies Are Only Good for 25 Days

Daven Hiskey 49
Today I found out that Twinkies have a shelf life of only 25 days.  The popular notion that they “last forever” or for some ridiculously large amount of time is incorrect.

Here are two other popular myths concerning Twinkies:

  • Myth: Twinkies aren’t baked; the sponge cake instead is made from a chemical reaction that causes a cake-like material to foam up.  It is then colored dark brown at the bottom to give the appearance of being baked.  (Twinkies are in fact baked and their primary ingredients are flour, sugar, and eggs.)
  • Myth: Twinkies contain a chemical used in embalming fluid which helps account for some of their extreme longevity.  (Twinkies contain no such chemical.)
Here are some actual real Twinkie facts:
Twinkies were created in 1930 as ladyfinger-shaped spongecakes.   They were first thought up by James A. Dewar, the Vice President of Continental Bakeries that sold under the Hostess brand.  Dewar was trying to come up with a way to utilize the machines used to make cream filled strawberry shortcake when strawberries were out of season and the machines normally sat idle.  So he got an idea to create a banana cream filled cake.  That’s right.  Originally, Twinkies were filled with banana cream, which I suppose explains why they chose to make them look as they do.

During World War II, bananas became scarce.  Hostess then decided to switch the cream inside Trinkies to vanilla cream.  This ended up being much more popular than the banana filled version. So when bananas became readily available again, they chose not to switch back.

The name “Twinkie” was also thought up by James Dewar.  On the way to a marketing meeting, he saw a billboard advertising “Twinkle-Toes Shoes” and thought up the name “Twinkies”.

When Twinkies first came out, they not only were banana filled, but they also had an incredibly low shelf life.  This was due primarily to the dairy products contained in Twinkies giving them only a two day shelf life on average.  This obviously cut into the profit margins.

With the need for longer shelf life, they started substituting ingredients in the original recipe with artificial ingredients.   Among those artificial ingredients is cellulose gum, which gives Twinkie cream its smooth feel.  Another place you can find this cellulose gum is in rocket fuel.

But that’s not the only fuel based ingredient in a Twinkie.  The chemicals that make up the artificial butter flavor are themselves derived from petroleum.

Another interesting ingredient is corn dextrin.  This gives Twinkies their sticky crust.  Another place you can find this wonderful ingredient is in various glues;  for instance, the glue that you find on the back of envelopes.

Interestingly though, of the 39 ingredients that make up a Twinkie, only one of them is strictly a preservative, or rather, its only purpose in being included is because it’s a preservative.  Some of the other chemicals in Twinkies have preserving side effects, but their use is primarily as substitutes for the dairy ingredients.  The lack of these dairy ingredients and the air tight plastic wrap are the primary reason that the Twinkie can last the 25 days on the shelves and can out last so many of its other baked brethren in that respect.

Despite their slightly unhealthy nature (150 calories each; with quite a dose of fat included), Hostess now churns out more than 1000 Twinkies per minute or about 500 million per year.  The cakes are each baked for 12 minutes; injected with cream; flipped over so the round bottom is now the top; then packaged for shipping.

Bonus Twinkie fact:  According to Hostess, it takes about 45 seconds to explode a Twinkie in a standard powered microwave.  Try this at home kids…  Seriously, anybody want to try this and report back on the results?

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49 Comments »

  1. rzrshrp January 15, 2010 at 7:13 am - Reply

    Agreed, I’ve definitely had my share of stale Twinkies.

  2. mortonqz January 16, 2010 at 10:03 pm - Reply

    B A N A N A

  3. LAL January 17, 2010 at 9:04 pm - Reply

    They don’t have that much fat, 5 grams. There are many far worse snack foods.

  4. Zous January 17, 2010 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    Good post, but FYI having a blatantly misspelled word right at the beginning almost made me not want to read it. That being said, I do like the idea of this blog a lot and this might be the first one I’ve ever seen and considered keeping up to date with (considering I as a rule don’t like blogs, that means a lot)

  5. cakedaddy January 17, 2010 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    The name “Twinkie” was also thought up by James Dewar. On the way to a marketing meeting, he saw a billboard advertising “Twinkle-Toes Shoes”, and thought up the name “Twinkies”.

    Oh, come on. Its terribly obvious that it is a reference to them being sold in matching pairs, or twins. hence, calling people dressed alike twinkies.

  6. ajerk January 17, 2010 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    bannana’s <– I'm sure this isn't even a word in any context, unless you're personifying bananas. :|

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe

  7. ajerk January 17, 2010 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    envelops <– also not a word

  8. kroon78 January 17, 2010 at 10:42 pm - Reply

    If you catch the scene on die hard 1 where bruce willis asks the cop from family matters whats in a twinkie he lists sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. The good old 80′s.

  9. Makati Condos Owner January 18, 2010 at 12:35 am - Reply

    I will try that exploding twinkie in a microwave thing. If I didn’t comeback after a week or so. It means I died.

  10. TommyP January 18, 2010 at 12:59 am - Reply

    Seriously grammar Nazi’s, give this guy a break.

  11. Daven Hiskey
    Daven January 18, 2010 at 2:19 am - Reply

    Haha, man! Guess I can’t spell banana and my firefox spell checker plugin thought it would be funny not to underline my incorrect spelling of that tasty fruit. :-)

  12. Daven Hiskey
    Daven January 18, 2010 at 2:22 am - Reply

    oh and @ajerk, envelops is actually a word, just not the one I wanted there; thanks for pointing it out. :-)

  13. UglyBhamGuy January 18, 2010 at 8:33 am - Reply

    the banana fruit is a berry. Berries are identified as being many seeded with a fleshy inner layer. So, technically a banana is a berry. And, believe it or not, bananas don’t grow on trees! Originally from Asia, the “banana tree” is really not a tree in the true sense. In fact, banana plants have no wood fiber. The banana plant is the world’s largest herb and a member of the lily family.

  14. Anony January 18, 2010 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    I guess your Firefox checker doesn’t know the difference between its and it’s, either. You should try using Word, it has both a spelling and grammar check.

  15. PlanJ January 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    MicrowaveCam DOT com has a video of a twinkie in the microwave, it did not explode. I doubt their is a difference if it is outside of its package.

    http://microwavecam.com/microwavecam/Videos/Misc/twinkie%20167b.htm

  16. I hate idiots January 18, 2010 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    Why does every idiot and their mother have to add unnecessary apostrophes these days? When you make “strawberry” plural, WTF would you get “strawberry’s”!?

  17. erak January 18, 2010 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    It’s not so much the spelling that’s wrong, “banana’s” can be a word if you’re referring to something that belongs to the banana “such as ‘the banana’s peel’”.

    Here’s an easy way to remember how to properly use an apostrophe to make words plural: Don’t.

  18. Daven Hiskey
    Daven January 18, 2010 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    haha, I do, in fact, already know correct apostrophe usage; the differences between their, there, and they’re; the difference between affect and effect; and many other common grammatical problems. And note, I’ve found Microsoft Word’s grammar checker, while steadily getting better, is still pretty bad at certain aspects of grammar, such as proper semi-colon usage. Though, you are correct in that it would have caught the apostrophe usage problem.

    The real problem here is that when I type, there is very little thought that goes into grammar, most going into the content; so my fingers kind of just do stupid grammar mistakes and while I catch most of them in proof reading, I invariable won’t catch them all as it seems it’s generally bad practice to proof read your own material. In any event, thanks to all the Grammar Nazi’s for finding the mistakes. I will endeavor to proofread a little more carefully in the future. ;-)

  19. Flem January 18, 2010 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Man, I wish they kept banana flavored ones around still. They brought them back for the King Kong remake and they were great.

  20. BobsBlitz.com January 19, 2010 at 6:47 am - Reply

    Twinkies, what can’t they do?

  21. Jenn January 19, 2010 at 7:42 am - Reply

    lol @ the statement about cellulose gum being found in rocket fuel. We eat corn and it’s found in some car fuel. *gasp* Just because something we eat is in something we shouldn’t eat doesn’t mean that ingredient is deadly or bad for you.

  22. Lee January 19, 2010 at 11:31 am - Reply

    2 stories…

    #1: My wife once taught a class of teenagers an object lesson using twinkies: she carefully opened the wrapper, slit the brown side slightly, and substituted the cream filling with mayonaise. She then put the twinkies back into the wrapper. She called it a race to see who could finish first. After 3 bites the first 2 contentants races to the trash can and spit it out. They still remember that lesson 10 years later. (Don’t rush into something without investigating first)

    #2: Back in my high school chemistry class on the first day of school we hung a twinkie from the ceiling using fishing line. On the last day of school (9 months later) we cut it down to investigate: no mold or other deformities, it was just really hard. Then somebody paid $20 to have the class clown eat it. It was a riot. Probably not the safest thing to eat but we were young/dumb.

  23. Ryan January 19, 2010 at 11:48 am - Reply

    …seriously, “Grammar Nazi’s” There you go again…

    Spelling is something you just do. The problem with grammar and spelling mistakes is that they detract from your content. I formerly worked in the newspaper industry and had to deal with writers who made horrific spelling mistakes a common practice. “But I’m focused on content”… well good, then spell it correctly and I’ll take your content seriously.

    I guess I’m just old school…

  24. Reader January 19, 2010 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    To Lee:

    I just wanted to let you know that your wife is a bitch.

  25. Abney January 20, 2010 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Wow, love how everyone feels the need to point out the negative. When I read the post, I focused on the content and not on the mistakes, since I am not perfect either. *gasp* I know, I’m sorry. I’m polluting your perfectness. (If it’s not a real word, sue me). One more little tidbit, I have heard many times that if you see mistakes when reading, then you’re not a very good reader, good readers skip over the mistakes. Guess that gives me one up on you. Anyway you can harrass me now, I’ll cry over it later. Keep up the good work Daven.

  26. mungus khan January 21, 2010 at 4:21 am - Reply

    LOL we call our grandma baba the hut because she eats twinkies a lot.

  27. Howie13 January 21, 2010 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Why would a blogger need to use any kind of spelling or grammar checker? Every blinkin’ asshole on the internet is constantly trolling for mistakes so they(the assholes) can prove how much smarter they are than anyone else.

  28. Howie13 January 21, 2010 at 11:48 pm - Reply

    Ryan- get a friggin life. If you’re so worked up about taking writing seriously, why aren’t you reading something more serious than twinkie myths and facts? It’s not exactly Earth shattering news. As entertaining as it is, it’s more or less time wasting fluff.

  29. Daryl Lytton April 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    I can’t even get a box of Twinkies to last for 25 days, much less a single pack.

  30. Anna March 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    @Flem
    THey still make the banana flaver twinkies. You could order them off their offical website: http://www.freshchocodiles.com/hostess/banana_twinkies.html

  31. Travis June 16, 2011 at 7:49 am - Reply

    Seriously, give this guy a break… If that stuff bothersbyou so much then stop reading it or quit complaining… This isn’t an English course website … It’s about twinkles…for the love of god…. It’s a blog…
    Well done daren lots of cool info

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