So, like most kids, The Daughter is a fan o…The Twinkie. That snack cake of questionable worth, which is at once utterly insubstantial and heavy as a rock when one consumes it, and filled with a substance that is to whipped cream as…well, I’m struggling to come up with an analogy, so wildly inferior to the wonder of whipped cream is the stuff in the middle of a Twinkie.
Long story short, one weekend a couple of weeks back I bought a six-pack of Twinkies for The Kid’s desserts for the week. Funny thing, though — she still hasn’t eaten them all. Not to worry, of course, as Twinkies are rumored to have a shelf-life best measured in terms reserved for the half-life of Plutonium.
But…I got to thinking about it, and I realized, maybe I’ve been unfair to the poor Twinkie. Maybe it’s OK. I mean, yeah, it’s mass-produced crap, but not all mass-produced crap is, well, crap, you know? And really, their “shelf life” is said to really be only twenty-five days, although what that means is open to debate — is the twenty-five day for “best results”, or is it a point beyond which consuming the little devils may give you food poisoning? Who’s to say!
Back to the point, though: maybe I was unfair. Maybe the Twinkie isn’t as bad as I remember it being from the last time I had one, well over twenty years ago. Only one way to find out, right? So I ate one.
First, one has to confront the beast.
Truth to tell, I’m already questioning the wisdom of this exercise. I mean, the Twinkie is small, but it’s disturbingly heavy for something that’s basically yellow cake and cream filling. It looks like food, in some way, but in another way, it looks like one of those odd foods you see in the Japanese section of a big supermarket: “They eat this? Really?”
The Twinkie: International food of mystery!
Of course, investigation time is done. It’s now time to commit ourselves to the Path of Inquiry on which we have set ourselves. In other words, it’s time to open the wrapper.
The temptation to shrink away from the open wrapper, in the event that the souls of the Damned come streaming out of that plastic, their agonized screams echoing through your home, is nearly irresistible. But nothing comes out.
Not even an aroma. To open a sealed package containing a food and smell nothing is pretty odd, isn’t it?
So now I open the wrapper far enough to allow the Twinkie to slide out nicely, into my hand. Except….
It doesn’t slide out. It doesn’t budge. The Twinkie has adhesive properties that are reminiscent of construction adhesive. I remember, when I had Twinkies as a kid, that I always shredded the wrapper whilst opening it. I figured that was because I didn’t have the finger dexterity to simply open the wrapper and slide the little bugger out; turns out that you can’t simply open the wrapper and slide the little bugger out. You have to shred the wrapper to finally extract the Twinkie from its plastic prison.
Confronted with such an odd food item, I smell it first, and find that its aroma is very weak in the first place, and vaguely industrial in the second. The Twinkie’s aroma is not any aroma that occurs in nature in any way.
I turn it over in my hand, noting again its surprising weight and noticing that the bloody tosser is really oily. Not only does the Twinkie itself shine a bit, but it leaves bits of that shine upon my fingertips as I hold it. Weird…but I can’t dwell anymore on its physical characteristics. The time has come….
The tasting of the Twinkie is, at its heart, a moment of pure, abject terror. I wondered, for the briefest of seconds, if I was playing the food equivalent of Russian Roulette, or if I was re-enacting the last moments of Socrates, as he lifted the cup of hemlock to his lips. (Well, not really, if you believe Plato’s version of events, in which Socrates basically says, “Oh, it’s time? OK, gimme the cup. Stop crying, you bunch of pansies!” before he quaffs the poison. But then, Socrates never had to contend with the Twinkie.)
Finally, though, I decided to invoke the old adage “No guts, no glory”, and took a nice, big bite of the Twinkie. The texture was some kind of odd hybrid of cake and cork, as I could feel my jaw rebounding a bit as my teeth clove through the cake and into the cream filling. How to describe that stuff? It tastes like…penance. Mixed with a bunch of sugar and whipped up.
Ultimately, the taste is…well, it’s….
It’s not utterly awful — the Twinkie has many levels of Hell to descend through before it approaches the awesome awfulness of broccoli — but still, as I feel the bite of Twinkie sinking through my esophagus to descend into my digestive tract, I can feel something…the destruction of some small part of my soul, perhaps. Destroyed in an unholy encounter with The Twinkie.