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R.I.P., Twinkie the Kid

When I was a little girl, my grandmother had a cupboard in her kitchen that was off limits to everyone but me and my grandfather. It contained all manners of treats, sweet and savory, that, in my own home would be considered contraband, punishable by an extra helping of brussels sprouts. It was lined with potato chips, cheese doodles, and cakes of all shapes, sizes and colors, individually wrapped in shiny, crinkly foil or clear plastic packages that contained empty but tempting calories.

Within that Ali Baba’s cavern of snacks, packed with hyper-processed foods, was where I first encountered the Twinkie. Spongy, sweet and utterly forbidden in other parts of my life, the bright yellow cake was alien in more ways than one.

And I loved it.

It’s been decades since I’ve tasted or even contemplated the Twinkie. But the announcement this week that Hostess has filed for bankruptcy protection brought back fond memories of that unidentifiable cream filling. According to the Wall Street Journal , this is the second time the 87-year-old company has filed bankruptcy in the past ten years, this time listing around $860 million in debt.

That’s a lot of Twinkies.

And while I can’t remember the last time I ate a Twinkie (or a Ho-Ho, or a Ding Dong, or bought a loaf of Wonder Bread), Hostess products were undeniably a part of my childhood and the memories of those empty calories are inextricably linked with that time. A guilty, forbidden pleasure with a seemingly infinite shelf life. Kind of like the Smurfs.

It’s tough to imagine Twinkies coming to Hostess’ rescue now. To succeed in the time of Farm-to-Table grass roots efforts, Angry Moms and presidential initiatives that promote healthier eating in America, Hostess seems overdue for a reinvention.

Twinkie the Kid is not really the icon most 21st moms want their kids to rally around.

But memories are long. And nostalgia is a powerful thing, particularly where the taste buds are concerned So it’s probably not fair to write the Hostess obituary just yet.

How, when and if Hostess is willing to adapt to the eating habits of contemporary Americans—however aspirational they may be—remains to be seen.

But with the company’s most recent bankruptcy filing stuck firmly in Hostess’ craw it is probably safe to say that the Twinkie might soon reach its' expiration date.

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