I’ve been amused by all the media and blogosphere coverage of Twinkies’ imminent demise. The public outpouring of regret and obsessive hoarding by Twinkies fans reinforce the idea that Twinkies have been a long-lived cultural icon.
Although few people would think of Twinkies as a healthy snack…
Memories But No Regrets
Thinking of Twinkies reminds me of two things from my early working life.
As a running joke at one company, we maintained an ever-changing list of 100 things you could do with Twinkies, including subcategories for aged, dried out Twinkies versus fresh ones… Some Twinkies applications were inventive, some were downright off-color. Many were amusing.
The other work-related memory has to do with Twinkies’ ingredient list being used as a test case scenario for an early database technology.
Who knows how Hostess manufactures Twinkies today. Back then, they manufactured Twinkies using an enormous and scary list of chemical ingredients — about as far from home-baked products as you could get.
Because the list of ingredients was so long, and the names of each ingredient so long and complex, few first-generation databases could store all the component names without truncating or abbreviating them. So every QA pass for new releases of my employer’s software would include database records of Twinkies.
The fact that we were developing this database for a large manufacturer that wanted to track where toxic chemicals were used in its manufacturing processes, cross-referenced with specific employees’ proximity to those chemicals during their working day, added another negative association to my concept of Twinkies.
For me Twinkies were an artificial product based on the combination of nasty-sounding chemicals. So they never appealed to me. One taste, that was enough for a lifetime.
Even so, it’s always sad to see cultural icons disappear from the landscape.