Many, many years ago when I was a young lad, there was this nice girl who had a crush on me. She was sweet, but for whatever reason, I didn’t feel the same way about her that she felt about me. (If hindsight tells me anything, based on my more recent dating experiences, I think it may have been her lack of red hair and tattoos.) Her harmless crush went on for months until one day she met someone else and began dating him.
While I should have been happy she found someone or, at worst, ambivalent, the strangest thing happened – I actually felt a little jealous. I had never been interested in dating this girl, but once she was off the market, I felt sad to lose her unrequited affection. Some part of me liked knowing she was out there thinking I was the bee’s knees, even if I didn’t actually want to be with her. I, as Cheap Trick would say, simply wanted her to want me.
I bring all of this up because, oddly enough, I think I feel the same way about Twinkies that I felt about this girl. And I’m guessing a number of you do too.
(And no, I’m not saying I wish Twinkie the Kid had a crush on me. Just hang with me for a second, people.)
Over the years, Twinkies have become a culture icon. They were the snacks my favorite Marvel characters ate to refuel in the comic books. They were the one thing Tallahassee craved in Zombieland. Thanks to the infamous “Twinkie defense,” they were even a viable defense tool in a murder trial.
Twinkies gave us this classic exchange in Die Hard:
John McClane: Just trying to fire down a 1,000 year old Twinkie. What do they put in these things, anyway?
Sgt. Al Powell: Sugar, enriched flour, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, polysorbate 60 and yellow dye number five. Just everything a growing boy needs.
Twinkies also gave us one of the tastiest doomsday metaphors ever in Ghostbusters:
Dr. Egon Spengler: Well, let’s say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. Based on this morning’s sample, it would be a Twinkie … thirty-five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.
Winston Zeddemore: That’s a big Twinkie.
So when the news broke that Hostess was both filing for bankruptcy and dealing with labor strikes, like a lot of you, I was sad that this cultural icon could go out of business. A world without Twinikies seemed like a very grim world indeed. And, just for a moment, I was tempted to rush out and stockpile a few (hundred) cases or, if I had to, bid for some secondhand Twinkies on eBay.
But then I thought about it and honestly I couldn’t even remember the last time I ate a Twinkie. Or the last time I even had a craving for one. Or remembered that they are a thing that exists, even.
Growing up, we were a Little Debbie household. This was mainly due to the fact that Little Debbie snack cakes were cheaper than Hostess. So Twinkies and other Hostess snacks were a luxury item – usually something we got when my mom would take us to the Hostess Bakery Outlet, which sold all of the rejected Twinkies at a discount price.
And, while I enjoyed them, I don’t know that I ever truly loved them. Honestly, I think they are a bit overrated. Give me a Fudge Round or an Oatmeal Cream Pie from my girl Debbie over a Twinkie any day.
Besides, chances are that someone will come along and save Hostess. Either another company will buy them out and resume production or they’ll find a way to restructure their debt and continue churning out those delicious snack cakes that I ambivalently enjoyed those many years ago.
Or maybe they won’t. Maybe Twinkie the Kid will ride off into the sunset slumped over on his horse like Shane in that old Western from the 50s. (Um, spoiler alert, I guess?) Maybe we’ve seen the last of Hostess and movies will have to seek out another fatty food for their metaphors and witty exchanges. But even if Tallahassee’s post-Apocalyptic zombie future just got a little bleaker, we will preserve.
The next Egon can talk about a 35-foot long Pumpkin Delight. The next John McClane can eat a stale Zebra Cake. And I can go back to hitting on redheads with tattoos and not really caring.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.