Apparently, the bankruptcy of Hostess Brands means the end of Twinkies. Here is the story of this American icon from The Lexicon of Real American Food
The world's most famous snack cake was named after a shoe. In 1930, during the Great Depression, Jimmy Dewar, manager of Chicago's Continental Bakery, was looking for a way to use the company's "Little Short Cake Finger" pans year around instead of only during strawberry season. On a trip to St. Louis, Mr. Dewar saw a billboard advertising Twinkle Toe Shoes. No one remembers if the gigantic shoes were depicted filled with feet or empty, but the vision inspired Mr. Dewar. "I came up with the idea of injecting the little cakes with a filling," he recalled; and he named his invention Twinkies
. Once the recipe was perfected, Mr. Dewar ate three a day for half a century. "I have twelve great-grandchildren, all of them eating Twinkies," he boasted in 1981, shortly before he died at the age of 88.
The original filling was banana crème, but during the 1940s that was replaced by vanilla. Twinkies were the favorite petit four of 1950s TV marionette Howdy Doody, as well as of Doodyville cowhand Twinkie the Kid. Archie Bunker demanded them in his lunch box on All in the Family
. Twinkies became so significant a part of American life that they took the blame for driving former San Francisco City Supervisor Dan White insane. After he murdered Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978, White's lawyers successfully used what jurisprudence now knows as The Twinkie Defense
to convince a jury that their client was suffering "diminished mental capacity" because he ate a diet of Twinkies and candy bars. White got off on a lesser charge and subsequently committed suicide. "Nobody knows what's going on inside of me," he said, neither blaming nor exonerating Twinkies for his condition.
Deep-fried Twinkie on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair: