Does anyone in this country not know what a Twinkie is? I am a little tempted to start asking around some time, and see if there is somebody, anybody who grew up in the United States who has not at least heard of the spongy little snack-cakes filled with what can only be referred to as “cream” by the extremely generous.
Having read several articles now about where the ingredients in Twinkies come from, I also have to wonder what those same people would think about the eclectic origins of each of the yellow-ish snack cakes. Steve Ettlinger’s article “From the Chinese Oil Refinery to your Twinkie” listed ingredients culled from all over the world, from Malaysia to Peru to Switzerland, and focusing, as the title would suggest, mainly on China, where those ingredients are generally processed into the ingredients listed on cardboard Twinkie boxes.
This all means that Twinkie the Kid is the Sergio Leone if snack-food mascots: somebody who became famous for promoting an anachronistic aspect of American culture they learned about from overseas, and became synonymous with it. Sorbic acid might be his Clint Eastwood.
So, does this mar the Twinkie’s place in American culture at all? Probably not, actually. Aside from the grander statements that could be made about how we live in a cultural melting pot, the Twinkie itself is so completely ingrained at this point that no matter what sort of bizarre substances go into its creation (or what else they create), and how unhealthy it all might be, people will continue consuming it.
Part of this has to do with accessibility. The Twinkie is cheap, and can be found basically anywhere, from packs of a dozen or so in grocery stores to two-packs in gas stations. County fairs the country over are almost expected to have Twinkies among the various odd foodstuffs they attempt to deep-fry. Even a recent Hollywood movie, “Zombieland”, a character played by Woody Harrelson was as desperate to find one last Twinkie in post-apocalyptic America as he was to survive.
Even somebody like me, who hasn’t had a Twinkie in years, can’t escape their utter ubiquity. Sadly, what goes in them will probably remain ignored by the general public for the time being, and they will remain as entrenched in American culture as ever.
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