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Twinkie Time
August 17, 2010 3:22 PM   Subscribe

The Twinkie is made up of 37 or so ingredients and this is what they look like. (previously)

After clicking an ingredient, the name shows up below the thumbnails.

More about the idea is available here, with further information about the ingredients here.
posted by gman (65 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is a really pretty color.

They should make twinkies that color instead of canary yellow.
posted by codacorolla at 3:28 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which one is deliciousness ?
posted by lobstah at 3:29 PM on August 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


A distressing portion of the deconstructed Twinkie is snortable. Tweakin' on Twinkies.
posted by adipocere at 3:30 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would've also liked a picture with all of the ingredients lined up with amounts proportional to an actual Twinkie. A lot of that stuff is present in milligram quantities per Twinkie. Still, neat to see what a pile of diglyceride looks like.
posted by jedicus at 3:31 PM on August 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that's pretty much what flour, baking soda, water and sugar look like. I mean, I'm not about to run off and eat a Twinkie, but come on. That's what ingredients look like. I like the pictures, but the "It's evil and unhealthy!" explanation rings a little hollow. I mean, it is unhealthy, but the reason isn't that it's made out of powders. Most baked goods are. (Although, it is kinda weird that they use powdered eggs instead of real ones. Gross.)
posted by stoneweaver at 3:32 PM on August 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


I would like these more if they were proportional. There's more red on that plate than there is Twinkie in a Twinkie.
posted by doublehappy at 3:32 PM on August 17, 2010


Don't forget the T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. project. One of the first "fun" Internet pages I encountered. It was hosted on a student account at Rice back then. It's hosted by Hostess now (say that ten times fast) but I don't see any content changes.
posted by kmz at 3:33 PM on August 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


stoneweaver: following the link in the starbuck's FPP, apparently they use a mil-based liquid in their coffee, doesn't that sound appealing?
posted by biffa at 3:34 PM on August 17, 2010


milk-based, ahem
posted by biffa at 3:35 PM on August 17, 2010


biffa - You must mean in their pre-packaged drinks. Because if you go into a starbucks you can see them using normal off the shelf gallon containers of the same brand of milk you'd buy at the market.
posted by Riemann at 3:37 PM on August 17, 2010


They should make twinkies that color instead of canary yellow.

It's pretty, but it looks like that visitor-killing Red Dust from the original "V" miniseries. Not that I'm scared of that stuff, or anything.
posted by Gator at 3:37 PM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I didn't really read a particular point or message into the images themselves-- it seemed to me like an interesting photography project at taking an everyday object (the Twinkie) and photographing its component parts in a way that's really beautiful. I love food photography.
posted by NoraReed at 3:38 PM on August 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


*shrugs*

Twinkies are pretty nasty tasting anyway, so looking at pretty components of its ingredients just makes wonder where the makers went wrong.
posted by nomadicink at 3:41 PM on August 17, 2010


This is a really pretty color.

Made from petroleum.
posted by empath at 3:42 PM on August 17, 2010


Mmmmm, Twinkies... /drools
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:50 PM on August 17, 2010


Get into my belly!
posted by spilon at 3:53 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gator: It's pretty, but it looks like that visitor-killing Red Dust from the original "V" miniseries. Not that I'm scared of that stuff, or anything.

They could have killed the Visitors with Twinkies and it still would have been a less stupid ending than that glowing Starchild-disarms-the-nuclear-armed-mothership Pretenama bullshit. Not like I'm still bitter nearly 30 years later or anything.

Back on topic: the real question is -- how do all these powders taste friend?!?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:55 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


fried damnit fried
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:56 PM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Red 40 (aka Allura Red AC) used to be from coal tar. Petroleum doesn't sound much better.

Which one is deliciousness ?

Trick question! NONE. The deliciousness is a figment of your imagination, created from the appealing look of the Twinkie. In actuality, it tastes like a soft, rubbery sponge filled with a light foam core. Do not try banana Twinkies in hopes of finding something that actually matches the perceived enjoyment with the reality, as the fake banana flavor is more of an insult to the notion built up on the foamy shell.

You may go years without eating a Twinkie, then you happen to pass some in a convenience store, and you're hungry enough for something small, so you buy a pack. You imagine them to be light and fluffy, something akin to angel food cake, but better. You bite in, and remember how wrong you are. Repeat this for decades, because the memory of the experience will lessen over time, until the actual misery is converted into enjoyment, and you wonder why you haven't had a Twinkie in a while.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:59 PM on August 17, 2010 [10 favorites]


A distressing portion of the deconstructed Twinkie is snortable.

You could say the same thing about most breads, however I wouldn't advise snorting yeast.
posted by Kirk Grim at 4:00 PM on August 17, 2010


Of course, you can fiddle with the design. Here's a "Twinkie clone" recipe, amongst other name brand recipe clones.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:03 PM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I had a gift card hanging around for Barnes & Noble and thought I'd better use it before it (or the whole chain) expires. So I purchased the book, What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets. It pictures people from around the world and, as you might guess, a typical day's diet. Beautiful photography and a fascinating way to peek into other cultures/lives. I'm bringing this up here because somehow the one reminded me of the other.
posted by agatha_magatha at 4:05 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not about to run off and eat a Twinkie

I sure as hell am.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:07 PM on August 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


Twinkies suck. Zingers rule.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:07 PM on August 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've still never had a Twinkie. I think I'll stick to that plan for a while longer. For some reason, my eyes and nose just do not recognize it as Food.
posted by heyho at 4:14 PM on August 17, 2010


It's the Polysorbate 60 that makes 'em taste so good.

mmmm Polysorbate 60
posted by contessa at 4:14 PM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Discover Magazine has a short excerpt from the book.
posted by zarq at 4:16 PM on August 17, 2010


They should have added one more picture of what it looks like post-digestion.
posted by rocket88 at 4:22 PM on August 17, 2010


So, why do Twinkies need sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose AND glucose?
posted by sandraregina at 4:25 PM on August 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


To mask the fact it's still not very good.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:27 PM on August 17, 2010


B..b..but ... where's the bacon?
posted by kcds at 4:37 PM on August 17, 2010


The Polysorbate 60's job is to make the "cream" creamy. It's boss at making certain the whip doesn't break. It's sort of the petrifying agent if you will.
posted by bonehead at 4:38 PM on August 17, 2010


The soy lecithin shown is the type you find in nutrition and health food stores, not the type people actually use in food production. It's granulated, so when you attempt to dissolve it, it doesn't dissolve fully and you get little tapioca-like beads of lecithin. What the professionals use is liquid lecithin.
posted by beerbajay at 4:43 PM on August 17, 2010


This usually goes like this:
OH MY GOD, TWINKIES ARE MADE OF CHEMICALS

OH MY GOD, FOOD IS MADE OF CHEMICALS

OH MY GOD, WE'RE MADE OF CHEMICALS

Twinkies taste good. Not as good as the orange cupcakes that I thought were vanilla (I mean, c'mon, the other ones are chocolate!) until I was in my 20s. Yes, they're bad for you. Enjoy responsibly/in moderation/whatever it is liquor merchants say.

Also, hey, what's up with Twinkies and most other Hostess stuff being hard to find in NYC? Is it just that all the local/regional bakers (Entemann's, Drake's, etc.) banded together to ban them? Is it just prohibitively expensive to import them to the island of Manhattan?

Oh, and apologies to the mods for flagging this as a double earlier. It was posted to MetaChat like a year ago, but never to mefi! Sorry!
posted by Eideteker at 4:45 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, why do Twinkies need sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose AND glucose?

My guess for the rationale:

Substance A is great, but substance B is cheaper. How much of A can we replace with B without making the result suck too much, maybe by adding in ingredients X, Y, Z to compensate for or mask the negative aspects of B. Substance C is even cheaper than B, and so on.
posted by parudox at 4:46 PM on August 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Note that the photographer got the ingredient list from Twinkie, Deconstructed, which is an amusing read.

The author also has a web site.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 4:56 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Duly noted.
posted by gman at 5:02 PM on August 17, 2010


I'd rather get my Red 40 from coal tar than from squished insects. Ewww.
posted by fusinski at 5:03 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wrote a little article about what comprises non-dairy creamer recently, and it's the same sort of thing. A lot of the ingrediants were there for "mouth feel", which is possibly the rationale behind having a wide range of sweeteners in there. Too much X and it's spongey, too much Y and it's powdery, but there needs to be a consistent sweetness to it.
posted by codacorolla at 5:03 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you like What I Eat, you might also enjoy What the World Eats/Hungry Planet (largely the same book), from the same people that pubished Material World.
posted by box at 5:04 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah yes, Yellow #5. One of God's many gifts to us.
posted by marxchivist at 5:05 PM on August 17, 2010


Which one is deliciousness ?

The white powdery one.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:09 PM on August 17, 2010


Duly noted.

There, there. I know.
posted by Gator at 5:12 PM on August 17, 2010


The "glucose" in the photo is actually an aqueous glucose solution.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:19 PM on August 17, 2010


Twinkies contain "vegetable and/or animal shortening." Well, which is it?
posted by cjorgensen at 5:24 PM on August 17, 2010


When I was a kid I got to tour the Twinkie factory in my town, the very same one they tried to find in that episode of Family Guy. When you're in third grade and you get to see how the cream gets into a Twinkie it's just about as awesome as learning how babies get made.

Come to think of it, it's pretty much the same technique.
posted by bondcliff at 5:25 PM on August 17, 2010 [8 favorites]


Twinkies contain "vegetable and/or animal shortening." Well, which is it?

Depends on whether marmosets are in season.
posted by Twang at 5:26 PM on August 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


They should make twinkies that color instead of canary yellow.

Red velvet
, if you please.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:45 PM on August 17, 2010


Countess Elena -- Blue Bird Bakery makes a Twinkie-analogue called a Bingle.

It is a creme-filled red-velvet cake Twinkie.

And it is delicious.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 6:10 PM on August 17, 2010 [3 favorites]



So, why do Twinkies need sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose AND glucose?


I usually cynically assume it's so "Sugar" (or some equivalent) isn't the top item on the ingredient list. But some of these do certainly behave really differently. A mixture of sucrose, fructose, and glucose won't crystallize as readily as a pure sucrose solution, so it's possible that they're mixing things together to modulate that to maximize the cream filling's stability (so it doesn't get gritty or whatever), and then use different ones in the cake itself. As far as I can tell dextrose and glucose are the same thing (unless they are talking about the doesn't-occur-in-nature-and-is-undigestable L-glucose, but they'd say that, right?). I'm not sure what the deal with that is.

Here's how it's actually worded:
Ingredients: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [Flour, Barley Malt, Ferrous Sulfate (Iron), B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid)], Sugar, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/Or Animal Shortening (Contains One Or More of: Soybean, Cottonseed Or Canola Oil, Beef Fat), Whole Eggs, Dextrose, Contains 2% Or Less of: Modified Corn Starch, Glucose, Leavenings (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sweet Dairy Whey, Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium and Sodium Caseinate, Salt, Mono- and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Soy Lecithin, Cornstarch, Corn Flour, Corn Dextrin, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sorbic Acid (to Retain Freshness), Fd&C Yellow 5, Red 40. Contains: Wheat, Egg, Milk and Soybeans
posted by aubilenon at 6:33 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


The late Spy magazine did a wonderful, horrible piece on Twinkie ingredients decades ago that I highly recommend. This MetaChat thread matches my memory, especially the part about the suet.
posted by zippy at 6:36 PM on August 17, 2010


This reminds me of Paula Poundstone's skewering of food journalist Michael Pollan on NPR's news quiz, Wait, wait... Don't Tell Me!
One of Pollan's tests for differentiating food from "edible food-like substances," such as Paula's Ring Dings, is to ask: "How many ingredients does it have?" (Relevant part of the exchange starts about 2:32)
posted by Snerd at 6:38 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oddly, it was my fathers last request. Who knew he loved Twinkies? (I certainly didn't, but there you have it).
posted by marimeko at 7:24 PM on August 17, 2010


"Contains: Wheat, Egg, Milk and Soybeans"

THAT MEANS THEY'RE INGREDIENTS, DOESN'T IT? WHY ARE THESE LISTED SEPARATELY?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:40 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Snerd, I loved that. Paula is one of my favorite people.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:58 PM on August 17, 2010


THAT MEANS THEY'RE INGREDIENTS, DOESN'T IT? WHY ARE THESE LISTED SEPARATELY?

So that it's easier for people to pull out the potential allergens from an ingredient list that may have dozens of entries, many of which are long chemical names, and some of which are difficult to recognize as allergens, especially if you're not a native English speaker. For example, Twinkies do not contain milk as such, but they do contain calcium caseinate and sodium caseinate. If you didn't know that casein was a protein found in milk, you might not realize that it could be problematic for you if you have a milk allergy.

Another approach I've seen is having the usual ingredients list with the potential allergens bolded or otherwise highlighted.
posted by jedicus at 8:09 PM on August 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


My wife is from Hong Kong. She had never had a Twinkie before, so I made her eat one on the grounds that it is a genuinely American experience.

Afterward, I apologized, and ate the second Twinkie in the package myself. I promised her I wouldn't ask her to eat one again. I won't.
posted by Quonab at 9:12 PM on August 17, 2010


Ah, Twinkies. So delicious. Try them battered in crushed Captain Crunch and deep fried.
posted by joedan at 10:45 PM on August 17, 2010


The white powdery one.

I knew they put cocaine in those things.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:41 PM on August 17, 2010


Ah, Twinkies. So delicious. Try them battered in crushed Captain Crunch and deep fried.

Does that come with a shot of insulin or do I need a prescription for that?
posted by krinklyfig at 11:41 PM on August 17, 2010


How did we get so far into this thread without this?
posted by SPrintF at 12:43 AM on August 18, 2010


Now see how much you remember.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 5:52 AM on August 18, 2010


They're not particularly cakey and have an overall greasy texture and taste. I'm a big ol' piggy myself, but I don not get the Twinkie fascination some folks have. I mark it up to being similar to the fascination some folks have for that oil-and-flavor concoction Yoo-hoo.
posted by grubi at 6:38 AM on August 18, 2010


contessa: "It's the Polysorbate 60 that makes 'em taste so good.

mmmm Polysorbate 60
"

You forgot the disgusting Homer Simpson drool sound, so I'll add it for you:

mmmm Polysorbate 60 ... uhhhHHHhhrghhhuuuuHHHggrruhhhHHhh.
posted by bwg at 7:34 AM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


They should make twinkies that color instead of canary yellow.

It IS what makes them that canary yellow. Saffron is that same color and when you add it to rice? Yellow rice!
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:16 AM on August 18, 2010


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