Sunday, December 2, 2007

Twinkies - the good, the bad, and the ugly

Twinkies, a typical American snack food, that you can buy in any supermarket or gas station, has been deconstructed in a new book with the suitable title "Twinkies, deconstructed" by Steve Ettlinger.
"In this fascinating exploration into the curious world of packaged foods, Twinkie, Deconstructed takes us from phosphate mines in Idaho to corn fields in Iowa, from gypsum mines in Oklahoma to oil fields in China, to demystify some of America’s most common processed food ingredients—where they come from, how they are made, how they are used—and why. Beginning at the source (hint: they’re often more closely linked to rocks and petroleum than any of the four food groups), Ettlinger reveals how each Twinkie ingredient goes through the process of being crushed, baked, fermented, refined, and/or reacted into a totally unrecognizable goo or powder with a strange name—all for the sake of creating a simple snack cake." book website

The rumor is that Twinkies never go bad, they can be stored on a shelf for years and never mold or never taste bad. They are like little rolled up soft cakes with white filling. So what is really in them? And how do they really taste? I had never had one in my whole life, but after readiing part of this book, I got a package at the store to do a real scientific test in our family.
500 million Twinkies are made and sold each year, so this is an extremely popular store item.

The list of ingredients is incredibly long, and the complete list is available on Wikipedia. The main ingredient is flour, followed by sugar, corn syrup, water, and high fructose corn syrup. But it also has strange things like sodium stearol lactylate, polysorbate 60, yellow 5, and sorbic acid in it. This is not like homebaked 'bullar'.

We opened up the package. There they were! Little moist, spongy rolls inside see-through plastic packages. One for each of us and a few extra. Let's take a bite!

I wrote down all the comments of course, but can't find them now five months later, but the conclusion was very different for different family members.

Guess who this is? This person loved Twinkies!
Another person said they tasted weird, the first bite was OK and then it was all chemicals. Personally, I could not live on these, and I won't buy them again. I don't understand why people like them at all.

All that was left in the end was wrappers.

On the official Twinkie website, they have a recipe for Twinkie Sushi. Hmmm....check out the pictures. Our sushi master here at home (LA), thinks those sushi look gross. I agree 100%. More real and happy food for the people instead of this.


EH said...

Polysorbate 60 is surely used as an emulsifier to help in the process baking them rather than enhancing the flavour. It´s commonly used in drugs as well. It´s also called Span 60 according to Wikipedia. "More span, anyone?"

It´s not something a plant would produce, as far as I know. It´s a man-produced chemical.

LS said...

Yeah, at first thought you might think Twinkies are vegetarian, but look at the ingredient list and you realize there is chicken and other things in there like sulfur, iron, crude oil, and other minerals too. Not just plant-derived at all.

What else goes into our pharmaceutical pills? Are they vegetarian?