A few years ago 50 baboons somehow managed to escape all at once from the wildlife preserve at the Kings Island amusement park near Cincinnati. It took four days to get them back to their lairs and though a tranquilizer gun was instrumental in the process, a far more effective tool was the Hostess Twinkie.
Those clever primates could not resist that squishy, creme-filled sponge cake, what the dean of the Florida Culinary Institute calls the "gold standard" of snack foods, any more than we humans can. In fact, statistics show that someone in the United States eats a Twinkie every six seconds. It takes 40,000 miles of cellophane to wrap them all.
The Twinkie was invented in Chicago (still the nation's Twinkie capital in terms of per capita consumption) by Jimmy Dewar, the manager of the Schiller Park bakery there. (And contrary to rumor, leftovers from that original batch have long since passed their expiration date.) Trying to find an alternate use for the stacks of shortcake pans he had on hand and which were used only during strawberry season, Dewar landed on the idea of using them for sponge cakes which he then would inject with creme filling. A St. Louis billboard for Twinkle Toe shoes gave him the name for his new product which he sold for two for a nickel. Before long they were showing up in lunchboxes across the country.
But the Twinkie has become far more than a lunchbox treat. It is a veritable American icon. In 2000 the Twinkie was chosen as "an object of enduring American symbolism" and placed by President Clinton in the millennium time capsule right along with a piece of the Berlin Wall.
Enthusiasm for the Twinkie extends even to gourmets. For example, Phil Delaplane, an instructor at the famed Culinary Institute of America, had his wedding cake made out of them. Restaurateur Christopher Sell, who trained as a French chef, created the fried Twinkie.
Yes they're junk food, but like those apes, we can't help ourselves.
+++++ Twinkie-misu +++++
This is what you get when you substitute Twinkies for the conventional ladyfingers in the classic Italian dessert, tiramisu.
2 tablespoons instant coffee
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 pound cream cheese
2 cans (14 oz. each) sweetened condensed milk
16 ounces whipped topping
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Slice Twinkies in half lengthwise. Line the bottom of a 9-x13-inch pan with half of the split Twinkies, filling side up. Dissolve coffee and sugar in boiling water. Brush 1/2 cup of coffee mixture over Twinkies. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Blend in condensed milk. Fold in whipped topping. Spread one half cheese mixture over Twinkies. Place remaining split Twinkies over top of cheese mixture, filling side down. Brush with remaining coffee mixture. Cover with remaining cream cheese mixture. Dust with cocoa powder. Chill at least five hours.