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A whole Twinkie resting on a split Twinkie
TypeSnack cake
Place of originUnited States
Created byJames Dewar
Invented1930; 94 years ago (1930)
Main ingredientsWheat flour, sugar, corn syrup, niacin, water, high fructose corn syrup, eggs, corn starch, 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., itself currently owned by The J.M. Smucker Company and having been formerly owned by private equity firms Apollo Global Management and C. Dean Metropoulos and Company as the second incarnation of Hostess Brands.[1] During bankruptcy proceedings, Twinkie production was suspended on November 15, 2012, and resumed after an absence of a few months from American store shelves, becoming available again nationwide on July 15, 2013.[2][3]

Grupo Bimbo's Vachon Inc., which owns the Canadian rights to the product and made them during their absence from the U.S. market,[4] produces Twinkies in Canada at a bakery in Montreal. They are made in Emporia, Kansas, in the U.S.[5] Twinkies are also available in Mexican stores as "Submarinos" made by Marinela, and as "Tuinky" made by Wonder; both Marinela and Wonder are also subsidiaries of Mexican bread company Grupo Bimbo.[6][7] 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,[8] where Hostess does not own the brand.[9]


Box of Hostess Twinkies by Saputo Incorporated (in production)

Twinkies were invented on April 6, 1930, by Canadian-born baker James "Jimmy" Alexander Dewar for the Continental Baking Company[10] in Schiller Park, Illinois,.[11] Realizing that several machines used for making cream-filled strawberry shortcakes sat idle when strawberries were out of season, Dewar conceived a snack cake filled with banana cream, which he dubbed the Twinkie.[12] He said he came up with the name when he saw a billboard in St. Louis for "Twinkle Toe Shoes".[13] However, the Online Etymology Dictionary claims the name was inspired by the fanciful word "twinkle".[14]

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; the company used vanilla cream for most Twinkies.[15] In 1988, Fruit and Cream Twinkies were introduced with a strawberry filling swirled into the cream. The product was soon dropped.[16] Vanilla's dominance over banana flavoring was 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 although they are now made with 2% banana purée.[17][18]

In November 2012, as Hostess announced its plan to shut down its operations, Time ranked the Twinkie #1 in its list of 10 "iconic" junk foods, saying that "they've been a staple in our popular culture and, above all, in our hearts. Often criticized for its lack of any nutritional value whatsoever,[a] the Twinkie has managed to persevere as a cultural and gastronomical icon."[20]

Hostess bankruptcy[edit]

On January 11, 2012,[21] parent company Hostess filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[13] Twinkie sales for the year, as of December 25, 2011, were 36 million packages, down almost 20% from a year earlier.[13] Hostess said customers had migrated to healthier foods.[13] 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.[22]

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, ending Twinkie production in the United States.[23]

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

A cross-section of "Limited Edition" Chocolate Creme Twinkies from 2011

On March 18, 2013, it was reported that Twinkies would return to store shelves in May of that year. Twinkies, along with other Hostess Brands, were purchased out of bankruptcy by Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co for $410 million.[24][25] Twinkies returned to U.S. shelves on July 15, 2013.[26] Apollo subsequently sold Hostess for $2.3 billion.[27]

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.[28]

Twinkies Cereal, made by Post, was introduced in December 2020.[29]

In 2017, Chocolate Cake Twinkies came on the market.[citation needed]

Deep-fried Twinkie[edit]

A deep-fried Twinkie

Deep frying a Twinkie involves freezing the cake, dipping it into batter, and deep-frying it. A story in The New York Times about the deep fried Twinkie with one of its claimed inventors — Christopher Sell, originally from Rugby, England — described this way: "Something magical occurs when the pastry hits the hot oil. The creamy white vegetable shortening filling liquefies, impregnating the sponge cake with its luscious vanilla flavor.... The cake itself softens and warms, nearly melting, contrasting with the crisp, deep-fried crust in a buttery and suave way. The pièce de résistance, however, is a ruby-hued berry sauce, adding a tart sophistication to all that airy sugary goodness."[30]

In 2002, Brooklyn restaurateur Clint Mullen introduced the fried Twinkie at several state and county fairs to great popular acclaim, and the notion spread to other establishments that specialize in fried foods.[31] Fried Twinkies are sold throughout the U.S. in fairs as well as ball games, and in various restaurants. Starting in August 2016, Walmart began selling prepackaged, frozen versions of the deep-fried Twinkie at stores nationwide in the US.[32]

In popular culture[edit]

Television and film[edit]

In 1984, the Twinkie became known worldwide in countries that did not sell the confection, due to a reference in the hit film Ghostbusters.[33] 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 ft (11 m) long and weigh approximately 600 lb (270 kg), to which the character Winston Zeddemore replies, "That's a big Twinkie."[33]

The 1999 Family Guy episode "Da Boom" involves the Griffin family moving to Natick, Massachusetts, in search of a Twinkie factory following the Y2K apocalypse. The factory is shown to have survived completely intact, allowing the Griffins to use it as a food source and rebuild society.

In the 2009 film Zombieland, Twinkies are the favorite snack of the character Tallahassee, who develops an obsession with finding one in the middle of a Zombie apocalypse.

Song lyrics[edit]

"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."[34] 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.[35]

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.[12]

Shelf life[edit]

A common urban legend claims that Twinkies have a theoretically 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.[36] More radically, it is even claimed Twinkies could survive a nuclear war.[37]

The TV show The Simpsons pictured this claim on the episode Homer and Apu of the 5th season. A customer at the Kwik-E-Mart screwed up a Twinkie and threw it on the floor when he was angry about the store. Apu shouted after him, saying he cannot hurt a Twinkie. It then popped back into shape and Apu put it back on the stand. [38]

The 2012 Super Bowl Chevy Silverado Apocalypse commercial also gives a nod to the Twinkie's reputed durability.[39]

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."[40]

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.[41][37] A box of Twinkies from shortly before Hostess's bankruptcy in 2012 was opened eight years later; one had completely molded over with cladosporium, another had a small amount of mold, and the creme filling in a third Twinkie had turned brown with the taste of "old sock".[42]

Twinkie diet[edit]

In 2010, Kansas State University professor Mark Haub went on a "convenience store" diet consisting mainly[43] of a snack of Twinkies, Oreos, or Doritos every 3 hours 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.[44][45]

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 1 protein shake per day and one serving of canned green beans or 4 celery stalks, along with the Twinkies, Oreos, and Doritos.[46] Besides the protein shake and multivitamin, Haub also ate nutritionally dense whole milk, carrots, and vitamin fortified cereal.[47][48][49] This contradicts representations by other media outlets stating that Haub "only" ate junk food.[50] He ate the vegetables at the dinner table in order to set a good example for his children.[51]

It is claimed legendary bodybuilder Sergio Oliva would sometimes indulge in eating a box of Twinkies (with a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew) after his notoriously strenuous workouts.[52][53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ This is a case of hyperbole; the nutritional facts of 1 serving (2 Twinkie cakes) describes, inter alia, 2 grams of protein and 1 milligram of iron.[19]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]