A Twinkie defense?

|
()


paulr@sfbg.com

A question too seldom pondered in these parts might be put as follows: Do twinkies eat Twinkies? The latter, of course, is the iconic cream-filled cake from Hostess; the former, a term for decorative if not decorous young men who can often be found at parties thrown by rich old queens with wine cellars full of Napa cabernets. And the answer to the question is almost certainly no, at least not if the twinkie ("twink" is a butch truncation see Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City) is interested in maintaining his value on the sociosexual market. This is because Twinkies, like so many of their near relations on the supermarket's junk food shelves, are bad for you, and may I be forgiven for being the bearer of this truly stunning news.

As a child in the 1960s I liked Twinkies well enough, but I have not eaten one for decades nor even thought about them for years, not until a press release arrived the other day like a bolt from the blue, announcing that Ten Speed Press of all presses! is bringing out The Twinkies Cookbook. I have not yet seen the book, so perhaps it will turn out to be a fabulous joke, but the press release is not reassuring, with its references to recipes for Twinkies-pecan bananas Foster, pumpkin-Twinkie bread pudding, Twinkie burritos, and chicken-raspberry Twinkie salad all of them, apparently, submitted by red-blooded, star-spangled, born-on-the-Fourth-of-July American Twinkie lovers.

Since the Twinkie is famous for its long shelf life and (unlike the twinkie) its sponginess, my thoughts turned immediately to trans fat, the hydrogenated vegetable oil that is one of the most artery-clogging substances you can eat but, until the health furor of the past few years, has been immensely helpful to the food industry in keeping packaged baked goods moist and salable. In the last year or two, many junk food makers have responded to public pressure by phasing out trans fats with alacrity; would I find that the Twinkie had been upgraded too?

No, alas. A quick trip to a neighborhood market and a quick scan of the (lengthy) list of ingredients in Twinkies revealed the words hydrogenated and shortening. End of inquiry: When you see either of those words, you move on, whether you are or were a twinkie, or even if you aren't or weren't. SFBG


 

Also from this author

  • The last supper

    Food writer Paul Reidinger bids farewell after more than a decade covering the San Francisco food scene

  • Radish

    Staging well-crafted feats of new all-American, neatly tucked away from the Valencia Street h-words

  • Boxing Room

    A warm Hayes Valley spot that punches up the Cajun trend with lagniappe, mirilton, and po'boys