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My Corner of the CanyonTwinkiesThe Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever
August 8, 2013 - By Kathie Gibboney
For a while they were gone and it just wasnt right. Even when I had no direct contact, consumption or close encounters of any kind, it was a better world for knowing they were there. It was comforting to assume they were out there easily identifiable, hermetically sealed, shelf life secured, as familiar as the sound of an old friends voice, the feel of your first bike or Fun With Dick and Jane.
They were not only a bright spot in the challenges of this American life, and an undeniably happy thing, but somehow had even achieved icon status, a surprising feat for but a modest sponge cake with a creamy filling. They were Twinkies.
In 2012 after filing for bankruptcy, Hostess, the parent company, ceased production of the snack cake.
I was saddened, as Im sure were legions, to even imagine a world without Twinkies. Oh the planet would continue in its obit but if viewed from a great distance I bet a bit of luster, a tiny spark, a gleam, would be missing.
It seemed such a little thing, simple, boasting almost no nutritional value, asking only to be what it was, aspiring to nothing more, except in its fried versions at county fairs, yet powerful enough to bring a sort of smile to anyone who spoke its name aloud. What dark forces must have had to align to attempt the elimination of such innocence? What evil conjuring brought into play, such worldly trivia as profit and loss, cost of living and union negotiations that finally fell through? Oh dastardly devil to steal but a bit of harmless fun when we humans have such a hard and long road to go.
My lunchbox was pink vinyl. It had a little golden clasp that turned at the top and, I think, a picture of a ballerina on the front. Inside it boasted, what seemed to me an amazing accomplishment of civilization. A thermos, with a pink top. It seemed such a grown up thing. I could manipulate it myself; unscrewing the lid and seeing it miraculously become a cup. Right there was wonder. But it did not stop there, oh no. Next came the plug, an item that looked industrial, substantial and of service, in direct contrast to the cute pink cup. A balance had been created; dance ballerina dance. And then the joy to tip the thermos and pour out what was inside as if it was the nectar of the gods, be it milk surprisingly still cool or of all things, soup. And the soup was warm, like a little bit of my mothers heart. How independent I felt. The thermos and I could go anywhere, travel the globe, I understood its operation and it understood by some intelligence of its own, how to keep something cold and something else hot.
Then there was my sandwich, sometimes peanut butter and sometimes baloney, carrot sticks wrapped in Saran, an apple and yes, now and then a Twinkie. I wish I had that lunchbox now, just for one more lunch at the schoolyard table, wearing a plaid dress with a Scottie dog on it, licking the last of a golden snack cake from my fingers, looking out over the playground when the world was mine.
We had the Twinkies on the counter at Shaka Shack Burgers. They seemed in keeping with our atmosphere of California retro, surfer shabby, un-chic.
Oh look, Twinkies, a customer would announce and someones day was made a little brighter. Yes some days would pass where no one purchased the golden snack but not to worry, the shelf life was estimated to last for months, or years or forever.
The Twinkie first came into being in 1930 when an industrious baker, one James Alexander Dewar, sought a use for baking pans not in use when the brief strawberry season was over. He created a small cake filled with a banana cream.
When, during World War II, bananas became hard to get, the filling was changed to the vanilla cream.
The Twinkie along with the other Hostess delights, Cupcakes, (chocolate with squiggle, orange at Halloween) Snoballs, (pink, white, orange at Halloween and kind of dry) and an especially filling Fruit Pie, (cherry, lemon and apple, maybe too sweet) became a familiar, though not particularly healthy part of our culture. They even achieved dubious fame when they were introduced into the defense of Dan White, on trial for murder in San Francisco. The lawyer suggested that due to the sugar overload of eating, too much junk food such as Twinkies his clients mental stability had been compromised. The argument was not successful but the term Twinkie Defense has become recognized legal slang. Poor Twinkie.
So, somehow without the Hostess parade of snacks, for seven sad months life went on, though some of us moved through it with a little less zip. Imagine then my delight to hear on the news one fine day that Twinkies would be coming back!
The powers of light in the impossible form of Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co. had purchased the bankrupt Hostess Company. A brightness would return to the dark and tired earth. I noted the estimated date of their return, July 15 .
Unfortunately the product did not arrive in our local markets and the only place that was reported to have them in stock was Wal-Mart and I refuse to go there because you have to draw the line somewhere, though note I have not looked closely at Apollo Global Management or Metropoulos & Co., may God bless and keep them from unsavory business practices.
It was perhaps a full week of searching, making calls and hearing promises of delivery dates and times, until I saw a Hostess product.
It was the Cupcake and the box stated, The Sweetest Come Back In The History of Ever.
I like to think that I myself could have written such prose. Next to the cupcakes, on the store shelf, was an empty space. I knew just what was to go there. The next day with my daughter I returned with the hope of sharing the moment. Running with Miranda down the isle at Vons, my heart beat a bit faster as we neared the display shelf. And yes, there as if a present left on a Christmas to fulfill ones secret hearts desire were, in all their glory, boxes of Twinkies.
As soon as I re-presented them at Shaka Shack we sold out and though I was tempted to gouge the public, take advantage of the fad they currently enjoy, or sell them on e-bay as some are, I offer a fair price and a smile.
ODE TO TWINKIE
Oh, Twinkie, you are very small, just cake and filling to offer all,
But there are golden dreams in you, of an America where hearts are true.
In your taste there is the past, where kids make friends that always last.
And far in the future may you be there, to comfort a sorrow and teach us to share.
Just by your being on our shelves, we become our better selves.
Like you, let us be straight and tall, but soft and filled with love for all.