Urban legend says Twinkies last forever. My wife decided to put it to the test. Today, the package looks as good as the day we bought it last year. Will it ever spoil? Who knows?
Last November when Hostess Brands announced that it was closing its bakeries and liquidating all of its assets, Carrie and I realized that our children had never had the opportunity to taste an American icon – the Twinkie. On that Friday night in mid-November, I raced all over the eastside of Spartanburg attempting to find Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Ding-Dongs, Zingers, and Sweet Sixteen Donuts. I went to three grocery stores, Wal-Mart, and about 3 other gas stations before I finished amassing my collection of tasty treats for us to share.
Over the next few days, we enjoyed eating our treats together as a family. The kids were getting to experience something that Carrie and I enjoyed when we were kids – actually me more so than Carrie. She was more of a Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll girl. Lydia really enjoyed the Sweet Sixteen donuts and the Ding Dongs. The girls didn’t really like the Twinkies as much as I thought they would – not enough chocolate, I guess.
As we got down to the last few items from our stash, Carrie decided it would be a good idea to set aside one package of Twinkies to see if they really do spoil after a period of time. In doing my research on the topic, I found that the Old Hostess Brands, Inc. guaranteed the freshness of their products for 26 days. The new Hostess Brands, Inc. will guarantee that the Twinkie will stay fresh for at least 45 days. A common urban legend claims that Twinkies have an infinite shelf-life – well not infinite, but more than a year. Twinkies are made of mostly sugar and flour, but they do contain a lot of ingredients that you find in processed foods which help extend the shelf-life of the product. If they contained real eggs and milk, they would spoil much quicker. In his book Twinkie, Deconstructed, Steve Ettlinger notes that each Twinkie contains 1/500th of a real egg in each cake. It also contains only one real preservative – sorbic acid.
As I’ve done my research before writing this blog, I have found that Carrie is not the first one to take on this experiment. Apparently, there is a school in Maine that has a Twinkie that is over 40 years old. The Twinkie hasn’t crumbled, but the appearance has changed dramatically – a “ghastly ash gray.” The folks at NPR are also a year and a half into their own experiment. Their Twinkie looks good, but it is as hard as a rock. Our Twinkies are still soft and still look edible if you ask me. It’s tough to see on the photo, but the expiration date for my pack of Twinkies is December 9, 2012.
Fortunately, this isn’t the last Twinkie in circulation. The new Hostess Brands, Inc. started manufacturing Twinkies again July of this year. I might have to go buy some so I can get my fill of polysorbate 60, sorbic acid, and sodium stearoyl lactylate. I am a chemist, but I think I would have a hard time drawing the chemical structure for that last ingredient I listed!
As I noted in my last post, my wife, Carrie, was out of town Thursday and Friday at a conference, which meant I was in charge of making sure my three girls got to school on time, got picked up from school on time and were well fed. I was also responsible for setting the social calendar as well as keeping the general peace. This is a tall order for a Dad with three girls.
After spending my day Thursday playing Mr. Mom, I decided to take Friday off to make my day a little easier. Thursday was a disaster as far as how my day normally transpires. I am one who doesn’t like to feel rushed, and when I feel rushed, I don’t get much accomplished. And Thursday, I felt rushed! So Friday was a day to focus on the needs of the family and myself.
The morning went pretty well. We had packed lunches the night before and laid out the clothes for the next day. All of the girls’ papers were signed and the bookbags were packed. Planning ahead seemed to work well. The girls ate a nutritious breakfast – Cocoa Puffs! I know it doesn’t sound nutritious, but it really is. There are more vitamins and minerals in Cocoa Puffs than can be found in a plate of vegetables. The same can be said for Pop Tarts and Lucky Charms. And they’ve done a pretty good job of cutting back on the amount of sugar in these products too. If General Mills or Kelloggs needs a spokesman, I’m their guy. I generally don’t condone breakfasts of sugary cereals and toaster pastries, but when Mommy’s away, I have to do what I can to make the girls happy.
I’ve digressed – again. I dropped the older girls off at school without a hitch – no replay of Thursday where I pulled in the wrong lane. Then I took Clarissa to the preschool. We dropped off her bookbag, and then we walked down to the early dropoff room and….she just walked off. She didn’t even say good-bye, didn’t wave, didn’t even acknowledge I was leaving her there. To be honest with you, I was heartbroken. No hugs or kisses. She just walked in like a teenager would when they get dropped off at school. She’s 4 years old going on 13. It’s difficult to take, and I’m not ready to get used to it. She’s the baby.
After I dropped Clarissa off, I went and got a quick bite to eat and went home. I paid the bills, read the paper, checked the e-mail, and cleaned up a little bit. I also had a couple of errands to run – buy a new shower curtain, pick-up the dry cleaning, and mail the bills. I was getting some stuff accomplished.
12:00 – Time to get Clarissa. Apparently, I showed up too early as Clarissa was not ready to go. The little boys in the class were happier to see me than she was so I helped them clean-up the blocks. I talked with Ms. Elizabeth and said hi to Ms. Pruitt, and finally Clarissa was ready to go.
12:15 – Time to prepare lunch for the princess. She has requested cheesy pasta – not my forte, but I’ll give it a shot. Apparently, Carrie allows her to assist with this process. I’m not exactly inclined to let her help near a stove with boiling milk and water, but she says she helps all the time (I found out later that this was not the case). I give it a shot. Making cheesy pasta is a process that requires patience. After 10 minutes, Clarissa wants her pasta, but it’s not ready yet I tell her. I get “the look.”
12:30 – Pasta is done. Applesauce and croutons on the table. Croutons are not normally served with pasta and applesauce, but that’s what she asked for so I oblige. We eat lunch and watch some shows – Dora the Explorer. I’m so excited….
2:00 – Time to go get the big sisters. Clarissa objects. Her shows are still on. I give her “the look.” She gets her shoes on and we head to the car.
2:30 – Big girls in the car. Heading home. My boss is on the phone. We’re trying to talk work stuff, but it’s hard to carry-on an adult conversation with three giggling girls. I tell him that I need to go.
2:40 – We’re home. It’s snack time! Popcorn, Doritos, Nerds, Granola Bars, and a bunch of other stuff. My daughters are as thin as rails, but they eat like horses. Now we’re watching movies – Hello Kitty. Lydia heads upstairs. She’s too old for these shows. I need to check the work e-mail and answer a few of them.
4:30 – Girls are asking when Mommy’s coming home. 8:00 can’t get here soon enough. I walk in the kitchen and see Little Debbie cake wrappers on the counter. Man, these girls are sneaky.
5:00 – Time to start thinking about dinner. Pizza night. Papa Johns online, but I don’t know the password. Carrie handles ordering pizza – not me. I text Carrie, but don’t get a response. She must be in class still. I could just pick up the phone and call, but we get points when we order online and I don’t want to miss out on the points. I want the free pizza.
5:30 – The phone rings. It’s Lydia’s friend Olivia. Lydia’s going to spend the night. They’ll come get her after they eat dinner. Bummer – now I’ll have to watch Lydia chokedown some pizza. She hates pizza. Kinda weird for a 10 year old. She apparently dislikes the sauce.
5:40 – I call Carrie. I need this password. We must collect points. She’s getting ready to leave. Hooray! She’ll be home soon. I get the password and order the pizzas.
5:50 – Lydia is packing and wants to borrow Ansley’s movie – Hotel Transylvania or Hotel Pennsylvania as Clarissa calls it. Ansley has some reservations about letting Lydia borrow her movie. Lydia loses things or forgets them. This is why she doesn’t have an iPod. I tell Lydia she can take the movie. Ansley has a meltdown. Mommy can’t get here soon enough.
6:00 – Girls and I are in the car to go pick-up the pizzas. Clarissa doesn’t want to go so she complains about the music and her sister. Ansley is in mid-meltdown over the movie. I listen to my music.
6:10 – We have the pizzas. I’ve successfully negotiated a deal for the movie. If Lydia forgets it, Ansley gets $10. Lydia now professes her love for her younger sister (sarcasm). Ansley professes her love for her older sister (more sarcasm). Little girls can be awfully mean. Clarissa is still mad about the music and is kicking my seat. Where is Mommy?
6:20 – We’re home with the pizzas. Olivia and her mom show-up. Lydia and Olivia eat some pizza. Lydia’s idea of eating pizza is pulling off the cheese, wiping off the sauce, and eating the crust. She takes about 4 bites and tries to hide the rest under a napkin. I tell her that won’t work. She gives me “the look.” I make small talk with Olivia’s mom.
6:40 – Lydia’s gone. Ansley and Clarissa are eating pizza and fighting about shows. I negotiate a deal. Animaniacs and then Dora and then Good Luck Charlie. Carrie should be home before I have to renegotiate the terms of the deal. I’m not sure how the next round of negotiations will go. I don’t want to test it.
7:00 – I finally get to sit down and enjoy my pizza and watch Animaniacs. Pinky and the Brain are my favorite.
7:45 – Mommy’s home! All is right with the world again!
8:30 – Time for Ansley and Clarissa to go to bed. Mommy’s home so she takes charge. I head upstairs. The girls and Carrie are in our room. Getting them to bed tonight should be easy, but Clarissa has her own plan. It’s hard to describe what happened next, but Clarissa was like a small Tasmanian Devil. She couldn’t be stopped. Ansley and Carrie took the brunt of it. It was fun to watch, and Clarissa had a blast. She’s happy to have her Mommy home.
9:00 – Girls are in bed. Duck Dynasty is on. Time to relax.
The past couple of days with the girls have been fun, but I need a breather. I’m glad we had this time together, but it’s time for Mommy to take over again. Time to get back to the routine. I better enjoy it while I can because I’ll have to develop a new routine in about a month when Carrie goes back to work.
Wish me luck.