What’s Actually in a Twinkie?

Most Americans don’t actually go as far as to thinking  what Twinkies are made of. Rather, they just see them as an American icon and feed them to their kids, much like giving them an apple (an apple may not be any better than a Twinkie – read my post about Apples here). The ingredients in a Twinkie might better resemble more to rocks and petroleum than any of the four food groups. Twinkies are actually made with fourteen of the top twenty chemicals made in the U.S. (and China). If you really are interested in what is in a Twinkie, there has been an entire book written about it titled, “Twinkie, Deconstructed,” by Steve Ettlinger.

What makes a Twinkie last so long? Let’s take a look at each ingredient in a Twinkie, one by one.

 

Twinkie Ingredient List

Enriched Bleached Flour

The conversion of grains to flour involves several steps that vary with the type of grain used. The word “enrichment” is very misleading. The definition of “enrich” is to add something, making something more valuable, in a sense. Enriched flour is anything but “enriched,”; it is the process of putting vitamins and minerals back into the flour because the process of turning the grain into flour strips out these essential nutrients. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that flour began to be enriched with vitamins as it was recognized that processed flour lacked many essential nutrients for health. A major factor in the switch to enriched flour was that during WWII, the U.S. Army would only buy enriched flour for its soldiers.

Flour bleaching agent is a food additive added to flour in order to make it appear whiter, basically so that you will think the flour is fresh when you buy it. Freshly milled flour is yellow in color. In some countries, bleached flour is prohibited. And another way to “bleach” is to cook it in the microwave for a period of time.

Flour Reduced Iron

Basically, “flour reduced iron” is processed flour that has less iron added to it. This is done because the FDA has a limit on the amount of iron a processed food can contain, which is about 20 milligrams.

B Vitamins / Thiamine Mononitrate

Thiamine mononitrate is a synthetic salt used to increase the thiamine levels in processed flour. This is necessary because the parts of the wheat that contain the vitamins and minerals are removed during processing. Thiamine is essential for energy reactions involving glucose. A lack of thiamine, or vitamin B1, can cause neurologic diseases called “Beri-Beri” and “Korsakoff Syndrome.” Thiamine deficiency is often seen ins chronic alcoholics with severe malnutrition.

The B vitamins are normally water soluble, but thiamine mononitrate is said to be fat soluble. This means the body has more difficulty expelling any excess. Thiamine mononitrate is synthetic, thus having the potential to cause allergies. If you have breathing or skin issues after consuming something with thiamine mononitrate, see a doctor who knows about these types of issues (finding one might be, however difficult, however). The allergies are likely due to the impurities that exist in synthetic vitamins versus the natural vitamins.

Low levels of thiamine mononitrate are unlikely to cause any severe problems. However, if you have a history of severe kidney disease, you may need to pay closer attention to your nitrate levels. The nitrates present in thiamine mononitrate may accumulate in the kidneys and induce kidney stones or cellular death. You can do a PubMed search and find that MedlinePlus indicates that anyone with impaired kidney function may have difficulty filtering nitrates out of their system and should avoid taking thiamine mononitrate.

A final word about vitamins is that they are not individual molecular compounds, rather, they are biological complexes that work together. Proper vitamin activity only occurs in the proper environments. In severe deficiency, just about any vitamin will do the job, in optimal wellness, the case is far from clear.

Water

Water is used to mix the ingredients.

Sugar

Sugar was a luxury in Europe until the 18th century, when it became more widely available. It then became popular, and by the 19th century, sugar came to be considered a necessity. The demand for sugar as an essential food ingredient unleashed major economic and social changes in the world. Today, sugar is everywhere and is in just about anything we eat. The Twinkie is no exception.

Corn Syrup

This is basically glucose syrup made from corn. In Twinkies, it is used to soften the texture, add volume, prevents crystallization of sugar, and enhances the flavor. Corn Syrup is not the same as High Fructose Corn Syrup. It is not exposed the enzyme that converts glucose to fructose… -xylose isomerase. Corn Syrup is usually made by adding corn starch in with some hydrochloric acid and then heating up the mixture.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

HFCS is a sweetener made from corn starch that has been processed by an enzyme called glucose isomerase to convert some of its glucose into fructose. HFCS is easier to handle and less expensive than other sugars. However, the use of HFCS is linked with many health problems such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. Commercial production of corn syrup began in 1864, and boomed in the late 1950s. Prior to the development of the worldwide sugar industry, dietary fructose was limited to only a few items: milk, meats, and most vegetables. The staples of many early diets, had no fructose, and had only 5–10% fructose by weight is found in fruits such as grapes, apples, and blueberries.

Twinkies uses HFCS as it is cheaper, increases the sweetness, and preserves longer than regular sugar.

Vegetable Shortening

Vegetable oil and hydrogen are combined through a chemical process called hydrogenation – this is what makes vegetable shortening. Basically, this is done to decrease the chances of food spoilage, which is important for a Twinkie. A shelf life of 65 days is pretty significant, and definitely doesn’t come naturally. Just in case you still don’t know what shortening is, think TRANS FAT. The FDA allows food manufacturers to take advantage of a labeling loophole and list ZERO grams of trans fats on the Nutrition label if their food has fewer than 0.5 grams of trans fats.

Vegetable oil comes in many forms. In Twinkies, it is likely Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO). Vegetable oil is bad for your heart and causes the bad type of inflammation, but brominated anything is bad for you in many ways. Brominated means that there is a molecule called Bromine attached to the oil. Bromine is known to directly inhibit thyroid hormone function by competing with iodine for receptor binding sites. In fact, a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that a certain level of Bromine in the blood causes an increase in Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). The other surprising place that BVO can be found is in good old Gatorade. BVO acts as an emulsifier in soda and sports beverages, preventing the flavoring from separating and floating to the surface.

Animal Shortening / Beef Fat

Animal shortening is basically rendered animal fat. This is what makes Twinkies off- limits for strict vegetarians and vegans. Rendering is a process that converts animal tissue waste into stable, value-added materials. Rendering refers to any processing of animal fatty tissue into purified fats like lard or tallow. Rendering can be carried out on an industrial, farm, or kitchen scale. The majority of tissue processed comes from slaughterhouses, but also includes restaurant grease and butcher shop trimmings and expired meat from grocery stores.

Soybean Oil

To produce soybean oil, the soybeans are cracked, adjusted for moisture content, heated to between 60 and 88 °C (140–190 °F), rolled into flakes, and solvent-extracted with a chemical solvent called Hexanes. The oil is then refined, blended for different applications, and sometimes hydrogenated. Soybean oils, both liquid and partially hydrogenated, are sold as “vegetable oil,” or are ingredients in a wide variety of processed foods. Most of the remaining residue (soybean meal) is used as animal feed.

Cottonseed Oil

Cottonseed Oil has traditionally been used in foods such as potato chips and Twinkies, and was for many years, a primary ingredient in the vegetable shortening, Crisco. The current formulation of Crisco includes no Cottonseed Oil. Significantly less expensive than Olive Oil, Cottonseed Oil is a popular frying oil for the restaurant and snack-food manufacturing industries.

The history of Cottonseed Oil is very interesting. It is the by-product of cotton processing, Cottonseed was considered virtually worthless before the late 19th Century. While cotton production expanded throughout the 17th, 18th, and mid-19th centuries, a largely worthless stock of cottonseed grew. Although some of the seed was used for planting, fertilizer, and animal feed, the majority was left to rot or was illegally dumped into rivers.

In the 1800’s, Europe experienced fats and oils shortages during the Industrial Revolution. The increased demand for fats and oils, coupled with a decreasing supply, caused prices to rise sharply. Consequently, many Europeans could not afford to buy the fats and oils needed for cooking and for lighting. Many United States entrepreneurs tried to take advantage of the increasing European demand for oils by crushing the increasingly large American supply of cottonseed for oil. But separating the seed hull from the seed meat proved difficult, and most of these ventures failed within a few years. This problem was resolved in 1857, when William Fee invented a huller, which effectively separated the tough hulls from the meats of cottonseed. With this new invention, Cottonseed Oil began to be used for illumination purposes in lamps to supplement the increasingly expensive whale oil and lard. But By 1859, this use came to an end as the petroleum industry emerged.

So then they had to think up a new use for Cottonseed Oil. This is when the compound cottonseed oil found its way into animal fats and lards. Initially, meat packers secretly added Cottonseed Oil to the pure fats, but this practice was uncovered in 1884. Armour and Company, an American meatpacking and food processing company, sought to corner the lard market and realized that it had purchased more lard than the existing hog population could have produced. A congressional investigation followed, (scandals were present then, just like they are today). Subsequently, legislation was passed that required products fortified with Cottonseed Oil to be labeled as ‘‘lard compound.” Similarly, Cottonseed Oil was often blended with Olive Oil. Once the practice was exposed, many countries put import tariffs on American Olive Oil and Italy banned the product completely in 1883 (sound familiar?). Both of these regulatory schemes depressed Cottonseed Oil sales and exports, once again creating an oversupply of Cottonseed Oil, which decreased its value.

It was Cottonseed’s depressed value that led a newly formed American company Procter & Gamble to utilize its oil. The Panic of 1837 caused the two brothers-in-law to merge their candlestick and soap manufacturing businesses to minimize costs. Looking for a replacement for expensive animal fats in production, the brothers finally settled on Cottonseed Oil. Procter & Gamble cornered the Cottonseed Oil market to circumvent the meat packer’s monopoly on the price. But as electricity emerged, the demand for candles then decreased. Procter and Gamble next found an edible use for cottonseed oil (never mind the potential health risks). Through patented technology, the brothers were able to hydrogenate Cottonseed Oil and develop a substance that closely resembled lard. In 1911, Procter & Gamble launched an aggressive marketing campaign to publicize its new product called Crisco, a vegetable shortening that could be used in place of lard.

Crisco placed ads in major newspapers advertising that the product was “easier on digestion…a healthier alternative to cooking with animal fats. . . and more economical than butter.” Of course, all of these health claims were false. The company also gave away free cookbooks, with every recipe calling for Crisco. By the 1920s, the company developed cookbooks for specific ethnicities in their native tongues. Additionally, Crisco starting airing radio cooking programs. Similarly, in 1899, David Wesson, a food chemist, developed deodorized Cottonseed Oil and called it, Wesson cooking oil. Wesson Oil also was marketed heavily and became quite popular too.

Over the next 30 years, Cottonseed Oil became the pre-eminent oil in the United States. Crisco and Wesson Oil became direct substitutes for lard and other more expensive oils in baking, frying, sautéing, and salad dressings. But by WWII, Cottonseed Oil shortages forced the utilization of another direct substitute,,,, soybean Oil. By 1944, Soybean Oil production outranked Cottonseed Oil production due to cottonseed shortages and Soybean Oil costs falling below that of Cottonseed Oil. By 1950, Soybean Oil replaced Cottonseed Oil in the use of shortenings like Crisco due to soybeans being comparatively low priced. Prices for cottonseed were also increased by the replacement of cotton fields by corn and soybeans, a trend fueled in large part by the boom in demand for corn syrup and ethanol. Cottonseed Oil and production continued to decline throughout the mid- and late 20th Century.

In the mid- to- late 2000s, many of the health dangers of Cottonseed and Soybean Oil were becoming evident. Consumers then started avoiding trans fats, and mandatory labeling of trans fats became mainstream. Around this same time, medical societies like the American Heart Association (AHA) made claims that these were “healthy oils,” but have since reversed its position.  Crisco and other producers have now been able to reformulate Cottonseed Oil so it contains little to no trans fats.

Canola Oil

Canola Oil is made from the rapeseed plant and also has an interesting history. Similar to Cottonseed Oil, Canola was never intended to be sold as a cooking oil.

After the war, demand for Canola Oil declined sharply, and farmers started looking for other uses for the plant and its products. Rapeseed Oil extracts were first put on the market in 1950s as food products, but these suffered from several unacceptable characteristics. Rapeseed Oil had a distinctive taste and a disagreeable greenish color, due to the presence of chlorophyll. It also contained a high concentration of erucic acid. Erucic acid is a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid.

A bunch of Canadian scientists wanted to turn Rapeseed Oil into an edible oil, so they used selective breeding techniques to “create” seeds that contained less of these harmful, bitter substances. Canola is actually not a unique plant. It’s just a name for rapeseeds that have been bred to be low in these undesirable compounds. Since the year 1995, biotech giant Monsanto has manufactured rapeseeds that are genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide RoundUp. Today, about 90% of the world’s canola crop is from genetically modified Monsanto seeds.

The manufacturing of Canola Oil is controversial. During this highly unnatural manufacturing process, some of the oil becomes damaged. You just can’t tell because the oil is also deodorized, which removes the smell. A chemical solvent called Hexane is used to extract the oil from the seeds. Trace amounts of Hexane have sometimes been found in cooking oils. The mere fact that it is exposed to high heat should turn you away from this oil. It is high in polyunsaturated fats, which are very sensitive to high heat and easily become oxidized (rancid).

However… there is a lot of confusion out there about the health effects of different fats and oils. Canola Oil is heavily marketed as a healthy choice oil. It is low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fats, including Omega-3-6-9 fatty acids. The manufacturers call it the “world’s healthiest cooking oil” – although some experts disagree.

Whole Eggs

This is probably the healthiest ingredient in a Twinkie bar. Whole eggs are self-explanatory, but to add a little insight, the manufacturer probably used grade B eggs, creating a number of problems that don’t show up in home cooking. They don’t have the emulsifying properties that higher quality eggs possess.

Dextrose

Dextrose is just another name for glucose. Basically, they are adding in un-modified sugar. Dextrose circulates throughout our bodies. But the thing to realize is that our bloodstream contains about the equivalent of ONE teaspoon of sugar at any given time. This means that if you eat something more than one teaspoon (15 grams) of sugar, your body is trying to do something with that sugar. Most often it goes to building fat.

Soy Lethicin

Have you ever noticed Soy Lecithin on the ingredient list of your pre-packaged food? It is used in just about everything, including Twinkies. One of the reasons why Soy Lecithin is used as an additive in processed foods such as Twinkies, is it helps give these products a smooth, uniform appearance.

Lecithin is used as an emulsifier, which means it makes oil and water mix together. But lecithin does more than just emulsify! It also helps stabilize emulsions, which then extends shelf life (which is essential for a Twinkie). When added to bread dough, its anti-stickiness power makes doughs easier to work with; It rises better because there’s less sticky resistance for the gas bubbles to strain against.

The original source of lecithin was from egg yolks and not soy, cottonseed, canola or milk as we use today. Composed of choline, fatty acids, glycerol, glycolipids, phospholipids, phosphoric acid, and triglycerides, lecithin was originally isolated from egg yolk. Lecithin was isolated by French chemist Theodore Gobley in 1846, and is a generic term used to designate a variety of naturally occurring fatty compounds found in animal and plant tissues.

Leavenings

A leavening agent, also known as a raising agents, can be a number of agents such as yeasts, bicarbonates (baking soda), and phosphates. In the case of the Twinkie, monocalcium phosphate is used.

Sodium acid pyrophosphate is another type of leavening agent used in Twinkies. Its function is to release the gas carbon dioxide. It is also used in frozen hash browns to keep the color of the potatoes from darkening. Finally, it is used in cat food as a palatability additive (whatever that means).

Cornstarch

Cornstarch is another one of those ingredients found in just about everything. It’s simple enough…, Cornstarch is derived from corn. What’s not so simple is the process by which Cornstarch is derived from. It involves multiple steps, just like how Canola or Cottonseed Oil is processed. Cornstarch is frequently used as a thickener and in the Twinkie, it is what helps give structure, to given them more fullness, and moisture. Cornstarch is a highly processed carbohydrate. It packs about 30 calories per tablespoon and there’s no vitamins, fat, protein, or fiber.

Whey Protein

Whey protein is added into Twinkies to address the challenges of how whole grain is processed. Whole grains are processed in such a way that most of the fiber and protein is eliminated. Whey proteins offer advantages\ like the fact is that it replaces some of the lost protein in addition to increasing the “mouthfeel and fat” not often found in bakery products. Whey protein likely helps the nutritional value, so to speak, of a Twinkie.

Glycerin

Glycerin is added to cake recipes to keep the cake moist for longer periods, which seems to be a common theme in the of making of Twinkies. It probably also is used in the icing to keep it from crystallizing. Glycerin is technically a sugar alcohol and it is sweet tasting. Glycerin, Glycerine, or Glycerol are memes of the same name. Glycerin can come from vegetable, animal, or synthetic sources. Glycerin is also used in pills, toothpastes, mouth washes, fluoride gels, tobacco, lubricants, and moisturizers. We even use glycerin in the hospital to treat brain swelling.

Soybean Oil

Soybean Oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of soybeans and is widely used in cooking. Soybean Oil extraction is a highly chemical process and is usually hydrogenated. Most of the residue of soybean meal is used as animal feed. Soybean oil is touted as a low saturated fat oil and therefore healthy. This is turning out not to be the case and many studies are showing that saturated fats are likely not the reason so many people in America are dying of heart disease. In Twinkies, Soybean Oil is probably one of those things that helps improve the functional and sensory attributes. Soybean Oil is also used in bagels, pastries, cookies, icings, and breakfast bars.

Salt

Salt boosts the flavor of breads in baking, but it also adds strength to the dough. Salt also slows down the fermentation and enzyme activity in dough, w. Which is why it is a preserving agent. Who knows what kind of salt is used in Twinkies, but a good bet is that it is NOT the upgraded kind.

Mono Polysorbate 60

This Is a type of emulsifier and it keeps the cream filling creamy without the use of real fat (usually from butter). Hydrogenated shortening replaces the butter as a source of fat. Basically, this helps the Twinkie from ever going stale.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (SSL)

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate is a food additive used to improve the mix tolerance of processed foods. It is used in a variety of baked goods such as Twinkies, desserts, and pet foods. From an economic point of view, it makes sense to use SSL since you basically get more for your money (see picture).  SSL is made by combining adding Stearic Acid, Lactic Acid, and Sodium Hydroxide (strong acid) all together. The United States and Europe have maximum use level, meaning that there is a limit to the amount of SSL that can be used in a product. Apparently, there is a limit on SSL use like there is a LD50… of 25 grams per kilogram body weight in rats. LD stands for lethal dose, and LD50 stands for the lethal dose required to kill half of the animals in a tested population. Call it naïve, but any chemical that has an LD50 in grams is probably not great for the body. To be fair, water has an LD50 of 90 grams per kilogram body weight…

Natural and Artificial Flavors

Trying to understand Natural and Artificial Flavors on an ingredient list is sort of like taking a deep dive into Alice in Wonderland. There is more legal terminology than plain and simple facts. There is no doubt that the makers of Twinkies use this to their advantage. Take, for example, the following definition of “Natural and Artificial Flavors” as defined for the consumer in the Code of Federal Regulations: A Natural Flavor is the essential oil. Essence, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating, or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit, vegetable, bud, root, leaf, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof. Artificial Flavors are those that are made from components that do not meet this definition. Basically, a flavorist uses “natural” chemicals to make natural flavorings and chemicals to make artificial flavorings. A good example of this might be a blue dye made from blueberry extract versus a synthetic pigment. Natural coconut flavorings come from the bark of the Massoya tree, which grows in Malaysia.

A great example of artificial and natural flavoring is vanilla flavoring. Real vanilla comes from vanilla beans. Artificial vanilla comes from castoreum, which is the part of the anal sac of beavers. And at the end of the day, the FDA only requires an ingredient to be listed if it exceeds a certain quantity. And many Natural and Artificial Flavors are so potent that they are not listed, but fall under the category of natural and artificial flavors.

Sorbic Acid

This Is a natural organic compound often used as a food preservative. It was first isolated from the rowan tree (Sorbus Aaucuparia), hence its name. Its history is also interesting as sorbic acid was first used as inhibitors of a deadly toxin called Botulinum found in spoiled meats. This was a big deal before the advent of refrigeration. Basically, Potassium Sorbate exists in the Twinkie as an antimicrobial agent and food preservative. Sorbic Acid also has an LD50 of about 10 grams per kilogram of body weight.

Xanthan Gum and Cellulose Gum

Xanthan Gum Is a polysaccharide secreted by the bacterium Xanthomonas Campestris. It is used as a food thickening agent in salad dressings and baking products. Necessity is the mother of invention, and Xanthan Gum is no exception. The manufacture of one kilogram of cheese creates nine kilograms of byproduct whey, for which the USDA sought to find more uses. Since whey is composed mainly of lactose, scientists developed a strain of Xanthomonas Campestris that would grow on lactose rather than glucose. Whey- derived Xanthan Gum is used in many shampoos and salad dressings. Xantham Gum helps to create the pleasant texture of many ice creams and keeps toothpastes from solidifying. Finally, Xanthan Gum is a thickener used to replace gluten in baking goods such as Twinkies.

Allergies and Xanthan Gums. Xantham Gums are made from variety of sources like corn, soy, dairy, and wheat. As such, persons with known sensitivities to these food products may need to avoid foods containing Xanthan Gums or determine the origin of the Xxanthum Gum before consuming the product. Some people react to small amount of Xanthan Gum, causing symptoms of intestinal bloating and diarrhea.

Well, if you thought that Xanthan Gum was at least semi-natural, Cellulose Gum is completely chemical. It is also a food thickening agent. It gives a loaf of bread a much- improved quality at a reduced cost. The function of Cellulose Gum is to help fat distribute evenly, giving perfect edges, thus achieving economy.

However, this economy may come at a health cost. There is a thought that consumption of emulsifiers like Xanthan and Cellulose gum may promote Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome (IBS) disease and Metabolic Syndrome. There are research studies showing that these emulsifiers induce low- grade inflammation, weight gain, fat deposition, metabolic dysregulation, leaky gut syndrome, and changes the mix of natural gut bacteria.

A copy of the study can be found here. (see evernote) Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting Colitis and Metabolic Syndrome.

Yellow 5 and Red 40

Per the FDA, the increase in processed foods has caused a five-5-fold increase in consumption of artificial dyes since 1955. Three dyes – Red #40, Yellow #5, and Yellow #6. account for 90% of all dyes used. While still approved for use in the U.S., many other countries such as England and France have banned artificial coloring agents.

It’s probably the food dyes, not the sugar…

Even a U.S. study published in Science found that when children with high scores on a scale measuring hyperactivity consumed a food dye blend, they performed more poorly on tests that measured their ability to recall ages than when given a placebo.  A 2007 British study found that within an hour of consuming a mixture of common synthetic dyes, children displayed hyperactive behavior. In July 2010, the European parliament mandated that all food and beverages be labeled if they contained food dyes. And of course, an advisory committee (government) evaluated the study and determined that because of study limitations, the results could not be extrapolated to the general population, and further testing was recommended. You can imagine the stress relief of the higher ups at every major food corporation after this report!

Nowadays in Europe, companies like McDonald’s, Kellogg’s, and Nestle all sell their products without food dyes. While is the U.S., the practice of adding food dyes is still is common place, as we can see with our beloved Twinkie.

Some examples of natural dyes include beetroot red, annatto, paprika extract, and cochineal.

Allura Red AC goes by several names including azo dye, Allura red, Food red 17, C.I. 160035, FD&C Red 40 and E 129.

MSG – somewhere MSG is likely to be hidden in processed foods like Twinkies. Realize that humans are up to six 6 times more sensitive to the effects of MSG than rats. So, keep this in mind when you are doing your homework on PubMed with MSG in the search box.

Many studies show that MSG increases food intake by up to 40%, and induces obesity. MSG also causes insulin to go up to more than three over 3 times normal. MSG is prevalent in processed foods throughout your grocery store. Usually words such as: hydrolyzed, protein fortified, ultra-pasteurized, fermented, enzyme- modified are all synonymous with MSG. Up to 95% of foods are fortified with MSG per Dr. Cate Shannahan’s book, Deep Nutrition. Another good read is Rich Food Poor Food.

The Creamy Filling 

Despite Hostess’s secret recipe, most food scientists will tell you that while the main ingredients in the filling are superfine sugar, shortening (oil), corn syrup, water, polysorbate 60, and salt, the key is that old pastry standby, Cellulose Gum, which can absorb 15 to 20 times its own weight in water. A pinch sprinkled on water floats like a jellyfish. A moistened spoonful becomes a clear, gelatinous, slimy glob in a matter of minutes.

Cellulose Gum hangs on to the water in a Twinkie’s’ filling, and thus, like so many other ingredients, keeps it slipperier longer. Its fibers plump the filling up, replacing fat (that is, real cream) with a moist, glossy, fat-like texture, without contributing a single calorie to the cake, because Cellulose Gum is not digested. It’s what helps hold a flavor on the back of your tongue, and, quite literally, helps Twinkies’ fillings to shine. At the end the day, Hostess actually never says what’s inside of the creamy filling.

The “Butter” Flavor
Since, due to cost and rancidity issues, there’s no room in a packaged cake like a Twinkies for fresh butter, artificial butter is the answer—the same “butter flavor” used on movie popcorn.

Artificial butter, like many flavor chemicals, smells positively awful in its concentrated state. Diacetyl—the “di” in the name refers to its molecular structure, and the “acetyl” part shows that it is related to acetic acid,. It is so powerfully bad-smelling that some companies that deal with it do so in a dedicated, separate building. But diacetyl is a very common, smooth, slippery, butter-butterscotch flavor, and it occurs naturally quite often in spoiled fruit juice and over- fermented beer. A mere touch of it gives chardonnay wine its smoothness; higher concentrations are what make butter smell like butter, but even higher concentrations are what make butter smell rancid.

Diacetyl could also be extracted from butter, but that is extremely difficult and expensive. Luckily, the same exact molecule is more inexpensively created from natural gas by a few obscure Chinese chemical companies and a well-known German multinational corporation.

A volatile liquid, it is such a bright, intense fluorescent yellow that you can easily see where real butter gets its color. Packed carefully into 25-kilogram (55-pound) drums and sealed with a layer of nitrogen to protect it from moisture and fire (it is so highly flammable that a vapor mixture can actually explode), it must be stored under refrigeration. The containers are labeled “Harmful If Swallowed,” both ironic and ominous for a food ingredient.

Twinkie Shelf Life

It is an urban myth that a Twinkie can have an infinite shelf life of years due to the chemicals used in its their production. The Twinkie is in fact a perishable food that once had a shelf life of about 5 days back in the 1930’s. Then in 1990’s, the shelf life was reported to be about 26 days. Then, after big business bought Hostess, the decision was made by those big companies to add in certain chemicals to extend the shelf life to 62 days!

It should be pretty obvious that any company that decides to modify a food product to last for two2 months in the name of profit does not in any way shape or form have any interest in your well-being. Another great example is the company Walmart selling “Deep Fried Twinkies.”