Like all good Americans, I have a fondness for Twinkies, though I suspect that's more informed by their hallowed status in pop culture than an actual appreciation for them as a dessert. Don't get me wrong—I was a fat kid growing up and I'm sure I connived and whined my way into my fair share of golden snack cakes. But in retrospect, I can't remember the last time I actually ate one. The best I can do is summon a vague memory of them floating around my frat house a half dozen years ago, and god knows what we were doing with them. Perhaps that explains why Hostess went under. Similar to one's grandparents, everyone likes the idea of Twinkies as a charming throwback but few are willing to put in the effort to actually support and sustain the enterprise.
But now they're back and I'm a big fan of a comeback story. All I know is what I've seen in the headlines, which is that they're now smaller (a 10-pack of Twinkies used to weigh 15 ounces, the boxes on store shelves now weigh13.58 ounces) and last longer (45 day shelf-life compared to a previous 26-days, if we pretend to believe that they ever lasted just 26 days).
With regards to lifespan, I'm not that concerned. We've all seen that Family Guy episode or heard the rumors—these things last forever. How one improves on forever, I don't know. What IS my concern is that these things are smaller. I remember them as being quite sizable. What happens if I eat one of the new ones and I'm not satisfied? It doesn't seem realistic to expect that I'm going to have part of another one and then save the rest for later. Am I going to eat two Twinkies? The thought horrifies me—that's not how I want to live my life. Where does that leave me? I don't know. But I'm certainly stressed about it.
An aside—these things have become tremendously difficult to find. I live in a stupid hipster gentrified neighborhood in Brooklyn. And you'd think that stupid hipster gentrifiers would be the first to embrace this sort of ironic retro Americana dessert. But literally not a single place had them an entire week after they were re-released, meaning either everyone in my neighborhood is subsisting exclusively on mass produced sponge cake or the deli owners haven't gotten the rerelease memo.
But back to business at hand. I ate them and you, my soon-to-be adoring public, want to know what I thought. My tasting notes:
- I hope I don't feel sick after this.
- Well here goes. I'm definitely going to feel sick after this.
- In ripping open the package, I'm met with the aroma of birthday cake. That's a stroke of marketing/product-smell genius. We associate these things with childhood and the happiness of birthday celebrations even though I'm pretty sure no one ever ate Twinkies as their birthday cake. And if you did, I'm sorry.
- First bite—strikingly moist cake that's both spongey and pillowey. Like a pillow made of sponge. Or a sponge made of pillow. But in either situation, also made of cake.
- Almost immediately followed by the core vein of frosting, too sugary by half and with a richness that reminds me of cream cheese but not as thick. It's not whipped cream. And it's not birthday cake frosting. I wonder if I could dig it out with a knife just to see what it's like on its own. I wish I were a scientist. I think this is what scientists do.
- The last distinct flavor is the bottom crust of browned cake. Do I detect notes of caramel and burnt butter? Probably not. But it is somewhat akin to the top layer of a frozen Sara Lee pound cake.
Do I like it? Not really—it's far too sweet for my taste. But I'm oddly happy and feel as if I'm in a Proustian reverie, swept back to being a chubby kid with huge cheeks who hit the motherlode when he unwrapped his lunch at school and found this delight waiting for him. As someone who works in finance, I've always thought of private equity guys as mouth-breathers. But two private equity firms bought Hostess and revitalized the Twinkie. For the kids! Should I rethink my career choices? I'm going to go have that second Twinkie and give it some serious thought.