Thoughts on Twinkies | Life / Entertainment

April is the whole year when my columns appear in the Times (remember last year’s Tax Day article), which is such an important milestone that I completely forgot about it until I realized this week i need something to ripen. Kind of a bummer, but in April it’s almost everything else. It is now both National Month of Child Abuse Prevention, Month of Sexual Assault Awareness and, worst of all, National Month of Poetry Writing; my friends have been wandering alone like clouds for weeks. This year I even fell in the rain from Record Store Day. There is no justice.

But as a columnist, my job is to fight for a happier tomorrow, so I searched long and hard (more than 20 minutes) for one thing in a long April story that was neither disappointing nor boring. And, by the way, I came up with something: Twinkie was invented this month in 1930.

Twinks are an important thread in the cross-stitch of America. They are a strong symbol of extravagance, obesity, contempt for basic nutrition and, in general, our cultural degeneration. But they’re also delicious, so like everything else, it’s a compromise. Twinks were invented by Continental Baking Company manager James Alexander Dewar, who originally filled them with banana cream because the strawberries they used for their shortbread cookies were out of season. Twinkie’s name was born after Dewar drove past the Twinkle Toe Shoe Company’s billboard on the way to work. Please try not to think about your feet the next time you eat Twinkie.

Dewar’s goal, like many American inventors, was to increase efficiency and move from a seasonal product model to a model that can be produced year-round. Knowing this, I suppose you could add a “Protestant passion for capitalism” to the list of what the Twinkies represent, if you will.

But we will return to this. Banana cream was replaced by vanilla during World War II due to the rationing of bananas, which hastily put an end to the era of Twinkies containing real nutrients. Despite this, the Twinkies became wildly popular with post-war, snack-mad Americans, largely because they happily ate anything after a decade of depression and World War II. Seriously. Cut them a little weakened. Helped by the fact that Hostess was the main sponsor of the Howdy Doody Show, whose audience literally did everything the doll asked them to do. In retrospect it was pretty scary.

Since then, Twinkies have been the subject of many rumors related to their expiration date, chemical ingredients and absorption of radioactivity. They also through no fault of their own helped Dan Brown serve less time for the 1978 assassinations of gay politician Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Mascone. But again, they are delicious.

Dave Kifaber is a graduate of Gettysburg College and a regular contributor to Adfreak.

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