Many jokes are being made about the loss of the Twinkie now that Hostess Brands has decided it will cease operations (pending liquidation) after 82 years.

I can’t remember the last time I had a Twinkie. I vaguely remember reaching a point in my life when I decided, “Yuck. Gross. I hate Twinkies,” even if I couldn’t tell you exactly why.

But I do remember the Twinkie-eating experience. The taste of the whipped-cream-like filling. The fun of trying to suck it out of the yellow cake.

That was probably in the late ’70s, after the Twinkie had already been around for 40+ years.

The Twinkie was in stores with the first frozen vegetables packaged by Birdseye.

People had been enjoying Twinkies for a year when the Empire State Building opened.

Children were no doubt sticking their tongues into the creamy center of a Twinke while listening to the radio with their parents as Franklin Delano Roosevelt was sworn into office.

Twinkies were a staple in our (collective) pantries during the end of prohibition (perhaps being enjoyed as a complement to a long awaited glass of legal wine?), the death of John Dillinger, Life magazine’s first publication, and Orson Welles’ broadcast of the War of the Worlds, when I’m willing to bet hundreds of thousand of Americans already suspected they could, if they had to, survive on Twinkies, thanks to their indefinite shelf-life, if nothing else.

They were there for the release of Casablanca, the D-Day invasion, the division of Germany into East and West, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

No one who was born after 1930 knows what it’s like to not have Twinkies as a guilty option on the grocery store shelf. This mysteriously resilient, freakishly tasty, and lovably unhealthy dessert has been in the lunch boxes, lunch bags, and backpacks of children and adults alike for as long as most of us can remember.

To fulfill demand, Hostess was baking 500,000,000 Twinkies per year. That’s 1.6 Twinkies per American. (Okay, that’s 1.6 Twinkies per person per year, but you have to remember that many people decide they prefer Hostess Brand Cupcakes or DingDongs or other cake-ey desserts, all of which would disappear if these food one-handers actually stopped being produced.)

Part of me wants to join in on the fun of saying goodbye to the Twinkie by making jokes about how the Twinkie of today will still be good to eat in 90 years, so ha ha what’s the big deal, or by proclaiming “Good riddance!” to the chemical concoction shaped into a mini-log and injected with yet more chemicals made to resemble whipped cream.

But I can’t. Because even though I haven’t had a Twinkie in what I’m positive has to be more than 20 years, I love the Twinkie. I love fantasizing, now and then, about scooping or sucking out the center. Enjoy remembering its role in my childhood. (It wasn’t much of a role, really, but it was there, just like the woods at the edge of my childhood apartment building were there, just as my “Whiskers” puppy and kitten lunch box was there.)

I grew up in Germany, where – unless you went to the post commissary – Twinkies weren’t sold. Twinkies were distinctly American. And I’m not going to get ridiculously sentimental and suggest that Twinkies Are America, but – well, in a way, aren’t they?

If the Twinkie is lost, if Hostess Brands does cease all production and all of its little dessert treats are discontinued, is there anything that can take its place? (“Should there be?” the health nuts ask, and then they answer, “No! Twinkies and their ilk are poison!” To them I say, Get bent. I can regulate my own diet.)

The answer is…maybe there will be something, someday, to take the place of Hostess cakes, but as far as I know, nothing has quite yet measured up, or even managed to compete.

This is not a loss to be treated as a giggle following a news bite.

This is serious.

This is history.

Long live the Twinkie.

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About Kris Tsetsi

Kristen J. Tsetsi is the author of the novels "Pretty Much True..." and "The Year of Dan Palace" and the short fiction collection "20 Short Stories," all published under the name Chris Jane. Website: http://kristenjtsetsi.com

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Writing

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