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Twinkies past their cultural expiration date

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I was anything-but-sad when I heard Hostess was being liquidated. I hope you just had a Willy Wonka-esque image of a giant waterfall of liquidated Twinkies and Wonder Bread flash through your mind. Because I did. Also, it was gross.

Rather than feel fear for the hungry, post-apocalyptic future, or feel grief for the loss of my default self-deprecation food, I felt pride. Finally, Americans have realized that ingesting a Twinkie is the equivalent of opening up your mouth really wide and shoving lard into your aorta. This must mean that we’re reversing the trend of demanding packaged, unhealthy and environmentally-detrimental foods. Soon everyone will buy whole grains in bulk, bring hemp bags to the store and dance through streets meant for bicycles with John Lennon’s “Imagine” on repeat!

Clearly, I am getting ahead of myself. Though being increasingly down in business sales was definitely a factor, several complications involving business mismanagement led to Hostess filing for bankruptcy. It wasn’t as beautifully simple as America saying, “Screw you and your little cholesterol-filled cakes, too.”

Even if people are slowly opting away from Twinkies, that doesn’t mean they aren’t meeting their lard and chemical quota another way. Furthermore, even with sales declining, there was still enough demand for Hostess products just last year that the company made 500 million Twinkies. For those of you, like me, who have a hard time putting that in perspective, 500 million is a significantly greater number than the number of people in the United States. I would be worried if all of the Twinkies made last year took up arms against humans.

Much more to my chagrin, the product may be destined to reappear – and perhaps with higher demand than when it temporarily left. CNN opinion writer Dean Obeidallah reports that when the liquidation was announced, “people began to hoard Twinkies, leaving store shelves once lined with Twinkies bare. And with the supply in stores dwindling, some took to eBay to purchase them.” Good thing Americans react with this kind of spending enthusiasm when there’s a famine in Somalia or when it’s time to pay taxes for public goods and services. Oh, wait, they don’t. If and when Twinkies come back, looking exactly the same as before but without the Hostess name attached, people may buy enough for every meal out of sheer, stupid nostalgia.

However, to revert back to my earlier utopian optimism, if the product does come back, perhaps there will be a brief surge in demand, but then the curve will go back to its previously dwindling trajectory. I doubt that if the product were pulled off the market a second time, companies would scramble to pick it up a third time.

At some point, rational concerns overtake nostalgia. Eventually, Americans who wax eloquent about the good ol’ days when kids drove around in cars for fun because there was no such thing as global warming will have to remember that time fondly, but reject it as something we’ve now moved beyond in light of new understanding. “But Twinkies are so tasty!” you exclaim. Well I’m sure heart attacks are significantly less tasty. And on some level, you know that, which is why demand is sloping downward.

So bring Twinkies back, irrelevant cowboy mascot and all. I dare you. See how long they last.

Emelia Carroll ’13 carrolle@stolaf.edu is from Minneapolis, Minn. She majors in philosophy.