The Demise of Twinkies
This week across America, you couldn’t turn on a television or open a newspaper or turn on the
radio without hearing the sad news that Hostess has declared bankruptcy and will be closing down
factories across the nation. This news was horrific for the workers that will lose their livelihoods, for the consumers who adore their products, and for me…it was sheer torture. For those who have listened to more than one broadcast of the KVOO morning show in the past 8 ½ years, you will know that I have a deep and undying love for all things fattening and unhealthy. At the top of that lengthy list is the golden spongecake siren that calls my name and widens my backside on a daily basis…The Twinkie!
I know that the demise of Suzie Q’s, Donettes, and Ding Dongs will make many doctors, nutritionists,
and airplane seat designers thrilled beyond belief, but for me, it is the death of a very large part of
my childhood. I still remember carrying my Muppet Show Pigs In Space lunchbox to school packed
with what was then considered the utmost in childhood nutrition staples: A peanut butter and jelly
sandwich, (on white WonderBread no less) a baggie-full of Doritos, a 10-cent carton of milk and for me, a Twinkie. I depended on this mid-day break from sentence diagraming, long division, state capitals, and mitosis to regain my sanity. I longed for a break from Mrs. Ayers droning on and on about Indiana history while I tried to pretend that the large wart on her nose wasn’t taking on a life of its own. The lunchroom was my sanctuary. Opening my lunchbox was like opening a little gift from home. Packed with love and familiarity, comfort and stability. Unlike my friends sitting around me wondering if their tomato soup would still be warm in their Holly Hobby thermos, my lunch was consistent. It was stable. It was comfort food. Before the whole world was consumed with trans-fat, genetically modified food, and MSG, we were comforted by things that tasted great and were touted on television as “wholesome.” “Twinkie the Kid” was my Buddha. “King Don” was my monarch.
I am no fool when it comes to nutrition. I have a degree in biology that required many science classes
that taught anatomy and physiology. I know that the human body requires healthy things to stay in
optimum shape, although I pray every day that the things I learned in “Health & Nutrition 101” was
nothing but bunk. No one on planet Earth would be happier than I to learn that crème filling was in
fact, a metabolic super-food. No one on Earth would be happier at the news that Margaritas and
nacho cheese were the building blocks of lean muscle and upright boobs. Trust me when I say that NO ONE would be happier at the news that the new scientific diet craze of Kool-Whip and Funyons were indeed making my teeth whiter and brighter and my (scant) chin-hairs fall out by the roots. I would be overjoyed. Enraptured. Enchanted. Delighted. I know that day will never come, but it doesn’t make me love my Twinkies, Ho-Hos, and crème-filled cupcakes any less.
For me, the love of junk food has never been about not caring about my health. I do, indeed, care about the state of my arteries. HOWEVER…I care about the state of my SOUL even more. I don’t want to erase the memory of sharing a Ding Dong on top of the jungle gym with Elizabeth Shallers. I don’t want to negate the feeling I had when I smelled the vanilla-ish scent wafting from the open end of a Twinkie wrapper that had been placed so lovingly by one of my parents into my lunchbox. It is as much a part of my psyche and childhood as “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and playing “Red Rover” in my neighborhood.
I will mourn the loss of these childhood icons like the passing of a friend, and I will not apologize to
anyone for it.