A 30-year-old Twinkie: gone but not forgotten

A little whimsical food-and-science content for your enjoyment.

I was amused to read of the retirement of a science teacher in Maine after 31 years. It seems Mr. Roger Benatti had some innovative ideas to keep his students interested. One of them was to place an unwrapped Twinkie in his classroom to see what would happen to it over time.

Speckled with bits of mold, the bright yellow cake still adorns his lab, but Bennatti only vaguely remembers why he kept the Twinkie so long.

“We wanted to see what the shelf life of a Twinkie was,” said Bennatti. “The idea was to see how long it would take to go bad.”

The Twinkie stayed on top of the board through his career — joined in later years by a Fig Newton — and occasionally inspired new food experiments. Bennatti estimates the ever-yellow Twinkie is about 30-years-old.

“It’s rather brittle, but if you dusted it off, it’s probably still edible,” Bennatti said. “It never spoiled.”

Mr. Bennatti retired last year, but all is not lost. The historic Twinkie has been rescued by another teacher, and will be displayed in her classroom.

I enjoy the fun and games surrounding Twinkies. There’s an entire Web site devoted to ‘scientific’ experiments involving them. The ‘scientists’ have even written (bad) haiku about them! A few examples:

Twinkies don’t burn well
unless doused in alcohol.
Then they make good fires.

Microwaved Twinkies
emit a great deal of smoke
and smell very bad.

Is the Twinkie smart?
Is it just ignoring us?
Maybe never know.

My suggestion for their next experiment: can Twinkies be used to make ethanol and thus contribute to the fight against global warming?

Peter

2 comments

  1. This is amazing. Hydrogenated vegetable oil and other toxins in our phsudo-food give the apperance that the item never goes bad when it was never good in the first place.

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