Rare Book Monthly

Articles - August - 2007 Issue

Deconstructing Twinkies: What's in those Things? - <i>A Book Review</i>

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So for all the fascinating and extensive information Ettlinger provides us, we still come away feeling a bit unsatisfied (something that never happens when eating a Twinkie). We really don't know whether these things are safe to eat. If you spent the last 50 years in a cave, the list of ingredients would probably horrify you. If you have been reading the ingredient lists on packages for years, Ettlinger's clinical description of the processes and the organic beginnings of most ingredients might strangely reassure you. These ingredients aren't pretty, but perhaps not quite as awful as they sound.

Do I fear Twinkies? Yes, though not because of Ettlinger's book. I'm not too fearful of the chemicals, though perhaps I should be. I've come to accept them as a necessary evil. The reality is, few of us live close enough to farms to survive on an entirely natural, fresh diet. Certain evils are necessary to keep 300 million mostly urban or suburban people fed. But I rarely eat Twinkies anymore, though once I did. No, it's the fat and calories that scare me. I fear clogged arteries and excessive weight more than strange chemicals. Twinkies provide virtually no nutrition but lots of fat and fat inducing calories. America has become a nation of obesity, and clogged arteries is an unpleasant side effect. There was a time when I had Twinkies or something from the Hostess stable at lunch everyday (my favorite is the widely despised Snowball). Now, I may have a Hostess snack 2 or 3 times over the course of a year. This is better for me. But I miss them.

Rare Book Monthly

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