In an effort to clarify questions about the purported durability and unusual physical characteristics of Twinkies, we subjected the Hostess snack logs to the following experiments:
A Twinkie was left on a window ledge for 4 days, during which time an inch and a half of rain fell. Many flies were observed crawling across the Twinkie's surface, but contrary to hypothesis, birds, even pigeons, avoided this potential source of substance. Despite the rain and prolonged exposure to the sun, the Twinkie retained its original color and form. When removed, the Twinkie was found to be substantially dehydrated. Cracked open, it was observed to have taken on the consistency of industrial foam insulation; the filling however, retained its advertised "creaminess"
A Twinkie was placed in a conventional microwave oven, which was set for precisely 4 minutes - the approximate cooking time of bacon. After 20 seconds, the oven began to emit the Twinkie's rich, characteristic aroma of artificial butter. After one minute, this aroma began to resemble the acrid smell of burning rubber. The experiment was aborted after 2 minutes 10 seconds when thick, foul smoke began billowing from the top of the oven. A second Twinkie was subjected to the same experiment; this Twinkie leaked molten white filling. When cooled, this now epoxylike filling bonded the Twinkie to its plate, defying gravity: it was removed only upon application of a butter knife. Extreme Force
A Twinkie was dropped from a ninth-floor window, a fall of approximately 120 feet. It landed right side up, then bounced onto its back. The expected "splatter" effect was not observed. Indeed, the only discernible damage to the Twinkie was a narrow fissure on its underside; otherwise, the Twinkie remained structurally intact.
A Twinkie was placed in a conventional freezer for 24 hours. Upon removal, the Twinkie was not found to be frozen solid, but its physical properties had noticeably "slowed". The filling was found to be the approximate consistency of acrylic paint, while exhibiting the mercurylike property of not adhering to practically any surface. It was noticed the Twinkie had generously absorbed the freezer odors.
A Twinkie was exposed to a gas flame for 2 minutes. While the Twinkie smoked and blackened and the filling in one of its "cream holes" boiled, the Twinkie did not catch fire. It did, however produce the same "burning rubber" aroma noticed in the irradiation experiment.
A Twinkie was dropped into a large bucket filled with water, the Twinkie floated momentarily, then began to list and sink. Viscous yellow tendrils ran off its lower half, possibly consisting of a water-soluble artificial coloring. After 2 hours, the Twinkie bloated substantially. Its coloring was now a very pale tan - in contrast to the yellow, urine-like water that surrounded it. The Twinkie bobbed when touched, and had a gelatinous texture. After 72 hours, the Twinkie had increased roughly 200 percent of its original size. The water had turned opaque, and a small, fan-shaped spray of filling had leaked from one of the "cream holes". Unfortunately, efforts to remove the Twinkie for further analysis were abandoned when, under light pressure the Twinkie disintegrated into an amorphous cloud of debris. A distinctly sour odor was noted.
Summary of Results
The Twinkie's survival of a 120-foot drop, along with some of the unusual phenomena associated with the "creamy filling" and artificial coloring, should give pause to those observers who would unequivocally categorize the Twinkie as "food". Further clinical inquiry is required before any definite conclusions can be drawn.
Reprinted from SPY Magazine, July 1989