Not that Twinkie is on its death bed. If anything, the Twinkie brand is probably the winner in this sad story of labor struggle, failed business and the eventual undoing of the 18,500 underpaid, overworked factory workers.
In the past week Twinkies have been the center of the public reminiscence because Hostess was said to file bankruptcy. I held my breath as the good news that Hostess and its workers were to start earnest negotiations came and then went. Sadly, it was announced an hour ago that Hostess has won the court approval to start selling its assets and more importantly, to start laying off its 18,500 workers.
We have all joked about how “Twinkies are forever”. Well, in this case, because of the sudden surge of attentions being paid to Twinkies, esp. in the social media sphere – now the arbitrator of brand marketability, I do believe that some VC will quickly swoop in and pick up the venerable Twinkie Brand. In contrast, the workers will be left jobless and most likely fall into the life style of sustaining on cheap, unhealthy food such as Twinkies. The irony is alarming.
I was not going to jump on the wagon and eulogizing Twinkies exactly because I do not believe in its imminent demise. It will live. However, I came across this video posted by my good friend Ry…
And it reminded me that I have written about the cultural obsession with Twinkies before. The following is from my 2009 post “Twinkies got a bad rep ’cause we find the name irresistible”.
In the American Pop culture conscious, there is this curious obsession with Twinkies. One of the new exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is about Twinkies. Putting our obsession with this oddity on view.
For once, let’s scientifically study the myth that Twinkies will never die. Observe and report. (I will visit MSI later again to check on the Twinkie that is on view there).
Of course, Twinkies are not the only food that are believed to be evil-incarnate. Why such revilement?
My theory is that half of that ill-begotten fame came from the name, Twinkie. What’s in a name? If it were called “Hostess Cream-filled Yellow Cake”, or, let’s say, Snow Puff, it would not have become such a legend, warts and all. Kudos to the marketing team that came up with this name that is now a major part of American pop culture.
Upon further investigation, I learned that the name Twinkie came from a chance encounter with a billboard:
In 1933, James Dewar, a baker at Continental Baking Company in Indiana, was inspired and came up with this name when driving by a billboard advertising shoes from the “Twinkle Toe Shoe Company”.
This is serendipity! In our collective consciousness for food, Twinkies share a significant space with the shoe in Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush… Ok. Maybe it is proven once again that I am easily amused. TOO easily.
Ode to Twinkies
‘Tis but thy name that makes thou irresistible;
Thou art thyself, though not a Twinkie.
What’s Twinkie? it is nor Monoglycerides nor diglycerides
Nor Polysorbate 60, nor Hydrogenated shortening, nor any other part
Belonging to proper CAKE. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a Twinkie
By any other name would induce as much grimace??
So Twinkie would, were it not Twinkie call’d,
Retain that dear longevity which it owes
Without that title. Twinkie, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all the cream.
This March (March 2012), I did go back to check on the Twinkie at MSI, and surprise surprise, it has not aged one bit. Sigh. Perhaps we should start putting Twinkie on our faces?