Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

If Twinkie dies, we killed it

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
November 20, 2012 -- Updated 2003 GMT (0403 HKT)
 The Twinkie has been around for 82 years. Reports of its possible death spawned countless eulogies.
The Twinkie has been around for 82 years. Reports of its possible death spawned countless eulogies.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: Hostess might shut down and prove Twinkies aren't really indestructible
  • The chemical-stuffed snack inspires nostalgia, he says, but who eats them now?
  • Obeidallah: We rejected junk food and stopped buying Twinkies, Ding Dongs
  • Still, the Twinkie will live on in pop culture and had a good 82-year run, he writes

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the editor of the politics blog "The Dean's Report" and co-director of the upcoming documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" Follow him on Twitter: @deanofcomedy

(CNN) -- Shall I compare thee, Twinkie, to a sunny day? Thou art more lovely and flavorful than a Ring Ding or a Devil Dog.

No, actually this article will not be a Shakespearean-inspired sonnet to a Twinkie. In fact, to paraphrase a more appropriate Shakespearean passage: "I come to bury Twinkie, not to praise it."

On Friday, Twinkie producer Hostess Brands Inc. announced it would be closing down, thus ending its product line. The response to this snack apocalypse was swift.

Facebook and Twitter were filled with comments bemoaning the loss of this creme-filled sponge cake. Eulogies appeared in publications across the country.

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

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. (As if there weren't hundreds of other high-calorie, chemically colored, obese-inducing snack cakes you could consume.)

There appears to be no end to the mass mourning for this snack cake so closely associated with our childhoods. It was as if the loss of Twinkies was somehow going to erase our fondest childhood memories.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



But here's my question: Where were you when Hostess needed you? Such as any day before they announced its closing. Before Friday, you could have easily bought Twinkies, Ding Dongs, Yodels, Sno Balls, Suzy Q's or any other Hostess treat.

But you weren't there for them then. The company's sales dropped, and with rising costs, Hostess had to file for bankruptcy. Not once, but twice: In 2004 and again in 2012. Hostess has lost $250 million over the last three years and is saddled with more than $850 million in debt.

Nope, you weren't there for them then. And neither was I. Why? Because millions of us began to realize that junk food was not good for us. So in a desperate effort to live forever -- or at least a little longer -- many of us began to cut Twinkies, and foods like it, out of our diets.

Don't worry, Twinkies will live on
Uncertain future for Twinkies
Twinkie's history as a pop culture icon

True, Twinkies offered a tasty treat, but it also offered other things, such as 300 calories per package of two, nine grams of fat and 37 other ingredients ranging from high fructose corn syrup to chemicals that I never heard of. And then there's the even more insidious Ding Dong -- they're even higher in fat and calories than Twinkies at 368 calories a serving and a whopping 19.4 grams of fat, which represents 30% of the total fat nutritionists recommend we consume in a day.

The upside to these chemicals is that Twinkies never seem to grow old -- they're the Dorian Gray of snack foods. They can likely be bequeathed to your grandkids and look the same as the day you bought them.

But before anyone becomes truly depressed over Twinkies' fate, keep in mind that Twinkies will never really disappear -- and not just because of preservatives. On Monday, Hostess Brands Inc. announced it will enter into mediation with the striking Baker's Union, which offers a little hope that the company might be saved. And there is always a chance that another company will buy the rights to produce Twinkies if Hostess does indeed close. But even if you are never be able to consume a Twinkie again, Twinkies will live forever in pop culture. Twinkies have appeared in movies for years from "Ghostbusters" to animated films such as "WALL-E" to "Zoombieland," where Woody Harrelson's character searched, prophetically, for the last box of Twinkies.

iReport: Is this my last Twinkie ever?

While you may not be able to consume them, Twinkies will live forever in pop culture. Twinkies have appeared in movies for years from "Ghostbusters" to animated films such as "WALL-E" to "Zoombieland," where Woody Harrelson's character searched, prophetically, for the last box of Twinkies.

Twinkies will even live in the annals of criminal justice, thanks to the famed "Twinkie defense." Dan White shot and killed San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor and gay activist Harvey Milk in 1978. At White's trial, his attorneys argued that his diet of sugary snack foods, such as Twinkies, had damaged his mental capacity. White was found not guilty of murder, but of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

So Twinkies are immortal. But there is one real loss in the closing of Hostess that should evoke sympathy. It's not the possible end of Hostess' Ho Hos or even its oh-so-soft and white Wonder Bread. It's the 18,500 Hostess employees who are out of work. It's obviously never good to have your job end with no warning -- it's even worse when that happens in a challenging economy such as ours and right before the holiday season.

But as we close the book on Twinkies, we can all take some solace in the fact that they had a great 82-year run. It makes me think of the words of Shakespeare: "Parting is such sweet sorrow." Although on a calorie-by-calorie basis, I think Twinkies might actually be sweeter.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 27, 2014 -- Updated 0127 GMT (0927 HKT)
The ability to manipulate media and technology has increasingly become a critical strategic resource, says Jeff Yang.
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1617 GMT (0017 HKT)
Today's politicians should follow Ronald Reagan's advice and invest in science, research and development, Fareed Zakaria says.
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Artificial intelligence does not need to be malevolent to be catastrophically dangerous to humanity, writes Greg Scoblete.
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1505 GMT (2305 HKT)
Historian Douglas Brinkley says a showing of Sony's film in Austin helped keep the city weird -- and spotlighted the heroes who stood up for free expression
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Tanya Odom that by calling only on women at his press conference, the President made clear why women and people of color should be more visible in boardrooms and conferences
December 26, 2014 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
When oil spills happen, researchers are faced with the difficult choice of whether to use chemical dispersants, authors say
December 25, 2014 -- Updated 0633 GMT (1433 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2312 GMT (0712 HKT)
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0335 GMT (1135 HKT)
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1257 GMT (2057 HKT)
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 2115 GMT (0515 HKT)
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1811 GMT (0211 HKT)
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 2019 GMT (0419 HKT)
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2239 GMT (0639 HKT)
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 2345 GMT (0745 HKT)
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 2134 GMT (0534 HKT)
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
ADVERTISEMENT